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‘Definitely a chance’ Stokes could bowl in fourth Test, says Pope

Ollie Pope says there’s “definitely a chance” Ben Stokes could bowl against India in the Test series as England look to bounce back from a record 434-run thrashing in Rajkot last week.

Stokes had surgery on his left knee in November as he raced to be fit for the India series and has not bowled since the second Ashes Test in July.

The England captain bowled in the nets during a training session on Wednesday as England prepare to come back from 2-1 down in the fourth Test of the five-match series on Friday.

“I think there’s definitely a chance, Stokes has not confirmed yet with even in the changing room,” vice-captain Pope said ahead of the match in Ranchi.

“He bowled in the nets today so he’s going to see how he pulls up and how he does, and if that’s good then hopefully he can proceed with the ball in his hand in the game.

“It’s pretty tough to get the ball out of his hand to be honest, but I’ll chat to him before the game. If he’s got full confidence in his knee then you’ve got to trust the medical advice and trust his opinions as well, that’s the main thing.

“Then if he needs a bit of guidance on the pitch and then I can be someone he can lean on.”

England captain Ben Stokes (Associated Press)
Image: England captain Ben Stokes was dismissed for 41 and 15 in the third Test in Rajkot

Stokes had ruled out bowling ahead of the fourth Test saying: “I’ve pinky promised my physio I won’t be loosening up to bowl even if everything is feeling well because that would just be a risk that’s not worth it.”

Pope insisted that England are not thinking about their defeat and instead are concentrating on how they can execute their plans better going forward.

“We’ve left it at the ground. It’s disappointing the way we played in the last two days especially from being right in the game after after day two,” Pope said.

“We’ve realised where we went wrong and what we need to execute better, it’s just a skill set and has nothing to do with the way we’re going about things. It’s just those fine margins.

“When you come to India, they’re an amazing team in their own conditions, and we’re aware that could happen at some point in the series. When we do get in a position of dominance we need to drive it home as much as we can.

England's Joe Root celebrates the wicket of Rohit Sharma in Rajkot
Image: England’s Joe Root celebrates the wicket of Rohit Sharma in Rajkot

“But the vibe in the group is really good, that’s what we’ve done well over the last few years is, if we’ve gone down, we’ve drawn a line under a poor performance and the guys are fresh and ready to go again.”

Robinson in frame for series debut?

England are likely to go back to their policy of selecting one front-line seamer to bowl alongside three spinners
that they had in the first two Tests on a pitch in Rajkot Pope described as “interesting” two days out from the start.

That suggests either or both of James Anderson and Mark Wood dropping out, with Ollie Robinson in the frame for the first time in the series, and Tom Hartley, Rehan Ahmed and Shoaib Bashir as the spinners.

Ollie Robinson in training ahead of fourth India vs England Test in Ranchi (Getty Images)
Image: Ollie Robinson looks set to make his first appearance of the series for England in Ranchi (Getty Images)

“It looks an interesting pitch,” Pope said. “It doesn’t necessarily look like a belting wicket at the moment. It kind of looks like one half is good and there’s a lot of cracks (on the other half).”

“If that does a fair bit like we expect it to having looked at it, it definitely brings us into the game,” Pope said. “If it does spin from ball one, I guess it’s an even playing field.

“We won the first Test batting first and India won the second and third batting first.

“The toss doesn’t define the result but it does give you an advantage if you win. If the wicket does do a fair bit like we expect it to, then it does bring us into the game.”

“We have got some young spinners but I think they’ve bowled well on some pretty good surfaces as well so it definitely brings some wicket-taking opportunities into the game.”

England will definitely get a break from facing Jasprit Bumrah, the world’s No 1-ranked Test bowler, as India have confirmed they will rest their key pace bowler.

Bumrah has taken 16 wickets at 13.64 in the series so far and been India’s frontline fast bowler.

India opener Yashasvi Jaiswal broke into the Top 15 of the ICC Test batting Rankings for the first time after scoring an unbeaten 214 in the third Test against England.

Jaiswal joins Virat Kohli (seventh), Rohit Sharma (12th) and Rishabh Pant (14th) in the rankings.

Follow over-by-over text commentary from the fourth Test between India and England, in Ranchi, live on and the Sky Sports App from 3.45am on Friday (first ball at 4am).

England Test series in India 2024

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