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Stokes could bowl as he says England have ‘great chance’ of series win

Captain Ben Stokes has not ruled out bowling for England in the final two Tests against India as his side look to recover from a 434-run thrashing in Rajkot.

The tourists suffered their heaviest defeat in terms of runs since 1934 as they were skittled for 122 on day four of the third Test – tailender Mark Wood (33 off 15) was the only player to pass 16 as England slipped 2-1 down in the five-match series.

Stokes has not bowled against India so far as he continues to recover from surgery on his left knee late last year but told TNT Sports that he “feels great.”

Sky Sports’ England player ratings: Third Test

Zak Crawley 5
Ben Duckett 8.5
Ollie Pope 5
Joe Root 3
Jonny Bairstow 3
Ben Stokes 6.5
Ben Foakes 6
Rehan Ahmed 7
Tom Hartley 6.5
Mark Wood 7
James Anderson 6.5

The 32-year-old said: “I have managed to get my first bowl at 100 per cent. I’m not going to lie. I feel really great.

“As a person I like to jump the gun a little bit but things are feeling really good. I have a whole body to get used to bowling again.

“It’s not a yes – but it’s not a no either.”

‘The only opinions that matter are ours’

England’s second innings lasted just 39.4 overs with India left-arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja taking five wickets, including Joe Root (7) and Jonny Bairstow (4) lbw on the sweep.

However, the away side threw away a golden opportunity in their first innings, with Ben Duckett’s sublime century having propelled the team to 224-2 in reply to India’s 445 all out and with home off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin absent due to a family emergency.

Root was promptly caught off Jasprit Bumrah on the reverse scoop – a shot Telegraph writer Scyld Berry described as the stupidest shot in English Test cricket history – and a blizzard of rash strokes led to England losing eight wickets for 95 runs and their final five for 20.

England's Joe Root playing a reverse scoop (Associated Press)
Image: Joe Root was out on the reverse scoop in England’s first innings, triggering a collapse of 8-95

India opener Yashasvi Jaiswal subsequently scored his second double century of the series as the hosts set their opponents a record 557 to win – and then demolished them.

Asked at the presentation whether England were reckless with the bat on the third morning, Stokes said: “Everyone has a perception, an opinion but the opinions of the people in the dressing room are the only ones that matter to us.

“Duckett played an unbelievable first innings and that was the tone we wanted to set throughout.

“It was about identifying that opportunity to push the scoreboard on and get as close as we could do to India’s total.

England's Ben Duckett after his century in Rajkot (Getty Images)
Image: Ben Duckett struck 153 from 151 balls in England’s first innings at Rajkot

“I wanted us to be bowling yesterday, even though it came earlier than we expected, because of how we felt the wicket was going.

“We wanted to push the game on as much as we possibly could, but sometimes game-plans don’t work out.

“It doesn’t always work out how you want, but we still have a great chance to win the trophy 3-2.”

‘Stokes’ England better placed than any other side to park this defeat’

Stokes added to TNT Sports: “I am very disappointed to be on the wrong side of a result but the one thing we are very good at as a team is leaving it behind us and focusing on what is ahead.

“Games can be won and lost in the head so we will be leaving all the disappointment and emotion from this week and moving on to the next one [in Ranchi from Friday].”

Ben Stokes (Getty Images)
Image: England captain Stokes: ‘Games can be won and lost in the head so we will be leaving all the disappointment and emotion from this week and moving on to the next one’

Former England captain Sir Alastair Cook added while analysing the game for TNT Sports: “This side is better placed than any other side in England history to park a 434-run loss.

“In isolation that is an incredible figure but Stokes has this unflappable belief that he can win from anywhere. That belief rubs off on his team.

“I imagine [England Test coach] Brendon McCullum will be checking people are okay in themselves and with their own games but there will be no big team meetings.

“Stokes will be practising heads and tails as if he can win [the toss], that’s probably the most important thing he can do.”

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

England Test series in India 2024

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