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England batting collapse has India eyeing series victory

An almighty England batting collapse on day three of the fourth Test in Ranchi has India eyeing a series victory as they cruised through to the close of play on 40-0 in pursuit of 192 to win.

England, bowled out for 145 in their second innings, lost their last seven wickets for 35 runs, Ravichandran Ashwin (5-51) claiming his first five-for of the series and the 35th of his storied Test career.

It was he who started the rot with the wickets of Ben Duckett (15) and Ollie Pope (0), out for a pair, to consecutive deliveries. The off-spinner added the key scalp of Joe Root (11) to an unfortunate lbw decision on DRS – the ball shown to be mere millimetres from pitching outside leg stump – and later wrapped up the tail.

Score summary – India chasing 192 to win

India 40-0 after 8 overs in second innings: Rohit Sharma (24no), Yashasvi Jaiswal (16no)

England 145 all out in second innings: Zak Crawley (60), Jonny Bairstow (30); Ravichandran Ashwin (5-51), Kuldeep Yadav (4-22)

India 307 all out in first innings: Dhruv Jurel (90), Yashasvi Jaiswal (73); Shoaib Bashir (5-119), Tom Hartley (3-68), James Anderson (2-48)

England 353 all out in first innings: Joe Root (122no), Ollie Robinson (58); Ravindra Jadeja (4-67), Akash Deep (3-83)

Zak Crawley (60) and Jonny Bairstow (30) had punctuated the Indian bowlers’ dominance with a couple of decent cameos, the unpredictable Ranchi surface looking fairly benign in spells and utterly unplayable in others.

It was very much the latter when Kuldeep Yadav (4-22) came into the attack and found prodigious turn and variable bounce to trigger England’s collapse with the wickets of Crawley and the skipper Ben Stokes (4), both bowled, just before tea.

India's Kuldeep Yadav, center, celebrates the wicket of England's Zak Crawley on the third day of the fourth cricket test match between England and India in Ranchi, India, Sunday, Feb. 25, 2024. (AP Photo/Ajit Solanki)
Image: Kuldeep Yadav sparked the England batting collapse with four wickets either side of tea

Bairstow then succumbed to the very first ball of the evening session, lobbing a simple catch to short cover off Ravindra Jadeja (1-56), and England’s lower order subsequently subsided meekly.

Earlier, India having resumed the day on 219-7 in their first innings, frustrated England as a determined 90 from Dhruv Jurel on the third morning saw the visitors’ lead cut to 46.

Jurel and Kuldeep (28) first progressed their eighth-wicket partnership to 76 until James Anderson (2-48) bowled the latter via a deflection off his boot to claim his 698th wicket in Test cricket.

Shoaib Bashir celebrates his maiden five-wicket haul in Test cricket
Image: Shoaib Bashir celebrated a maiden five-wicket haul in Test cricket as he dismissed Akash Deep on day three

Shoaib Bashir (5-119) enjoyed a memorable moment as he took the final wicket he needed to claim a maiden Test five-for, Akash Deep (9) out lbw. But, at the other end, Jurel – having brought up a maiden Test fifty – began to rapidly shift through the gears to great effect, with England left rueing Ollie Robinson’s costly drop of him on 59 at midwicket.

In the fitting surroundings of MS Dhoni’s home city, Jurel channelled the big-hitting Indian great when smashing three glorious sixes, taking his tally for the innings to four, before he was bowled 10 short of a richly-deserved hundred by a beauty from Tom Hartley (3-68) – India all out for 307 on the stroke of lunch.

India's Dhruv Jurel plays a shot on the third day of the fourth cricket test match between England and India in Ranchi, India, Sunday, Feb. 25, 2024. (AP Photo/Ajit Solanki)
Image: India’s Dhruv Jurel hit a magnificent and match-altering 90 in just his second Test match

With batting having looked a lot easier in the morning session, England will have had high hopes of batting India out of the game in their second innings, only for the hosts’ spinners to bowl superbly as the pitch began to misbehave.

Duckett, armed with his bag of cross-batted tricks, will be disappointed to have been dismissed to a straightforward prodded defence to short leg, while Pope’s sorry luck in this Test continued with a second duck to an lbw decision on ‘umpire’s call’.

Crawley and Root rebuilt with a solid stand for the third wicket as again the life seemed to briefly leave the Ranchi surface until that tight DRS call against Root went Ashwin and India’s way.

Crawley found another willing partner in Bairstow as he pushed past fifty for the third time in the series, but once more he failed to convert that platform into a sizable contribution.

The England opener departed when deceived by a sharp turner from Kuldeep upon his reintroduction to the attack, completely turning the Test on its head as England crumbled thereafter.

Bashir: Anything is possible on that wicket

England’s Shoaib Bashir, speaking to TNT Sports, after his maiden Test five-for:

“It feels surreal. I’d like to dedicate this to my two late grandads who passed away a year and a bit ago.

“They used to watch Test cricket all the time on TV and their wish was to watch me play but that didn’t happen so it’s quite emotional.

“We would’ve liked to get one or two wickets there in that last period but me and Hartley know we’ve got a job to do tomorrow. On that wicket, anything is possible.”

Follow text commentary of day four of the fourth Test between India and England live on skysports.com and the Sky Sports App from 3.45am on Monday (4am first ball).

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