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Despite losing the series to India, Ben Stokes expressed his immense pride in the performance of his team.
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Despite losing the series to India, Ben Stokes expressed his immense pride in the performance of his team.

Ben Stokes expressed his pride in his England team for giving their all against India, despite suffering their third consecutive loss, which marks his first series defeat as captain since assuming the role two years ago.

With a score of 192 on the fourth day in Ranchi, there were hopes of a potential fifth Test decider in Dharamsala next week. These hopes were raised when Shoaib Bashir took two wickets in two balls after lunch, reducing the hosts to 120 for five. However, Shubman Gill and Dhruv Jurel remained composed and forged a chanceless partnership of 72 runs, leading India to a five-wicket victory. This win also gave India a 3-1 lead in the series, with one match remaining.

According to Stokes, the score of three-one may not appear favorable, but I am most proud of the approach we took against India. This team has not faced this type of challenge before. I am extremely proud of our response to everything, even when we experienced three negative outcomes.

“There was a belief that we had no chance of being competitive against India, but even today’s match was not an easy victory and I believe they would agree. I am extremely proud of each player’s effort and determination against India. No one has backed down.”

“Of course, our goal is to win every single game and series. However, many discussions arise after the fact. This is something I have accepted, and the team has as well. Our approach to the game is straightforward. One moment can change everything, so why not savor every chance we get to play?”

Stokes admitted that his team was unable to counter India’s spinners on the critical third day. Ravichandran Ashwin and Kuldeep Yadav took nine wickets together, causing England to collapse and finish with a total of 145 runs. The duo took advantage of the unpredictable pitch, despite Stokes acknowledging the quality of all four Test match pitches.

There has been a lot of focus on England’s aggressive tactics, but they were deemed ineffective in Ranchi due to the formidable attack they were facing. Stokes commented, “The conditions we were up against with [Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, and Kuldeep] were extremely difficult. When India gains momentum in those conditions, it becomes tough for any team to not only score runs, but also keep the strike moving.”

Joe Root (top left) catches out India’s Sarfaraz Khan from the bowling of the impressive Tom Hartley (bottom left).

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“You’ve got to give them credit for the way they bowled in that crucial period. They sensed an opportunity to put us under pressure; that period was the game. It was nigh on impossible to operate how we wanted to.”

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According to Stokes, England has discovered two promising players, Bashir and Tom Hartley, who will “finish this tour with pride” after collectively taking 12 wickets in this Test match. On the other hand, Rohit Sharma, the opposing captain, has extended India’s undefeated streak at home to 15 series (or 17 if including one-off Test matches).

Sharma, who scored 55 runs during the chase and earned a nod of approval from Stokes after hitting a daring six off Jimmy Anderson on Monday, stated: “We were aware that this series would be tough and England would play a unique style of cricket compared to other teams. They found success with it, but our batting and bowling as a unit remained composed.”

Source: theguardian.com