India held their nerve to level the Twenty20 series against England at 2-2 thanks to a thrilling eight-run triumph at the Narendra Modi Stadium.

The home side posted 185-8 after being put in by Eoin Morgan, despite Jofra Archer claiming 4-33, while fellow pace bowler Mark Wood impressed again, taking 1-25 from his four overs.

However, for the first time in the five-match series, the team batting second were unable to reach their target, meaning the same venue in Ahmedabad will stage a winner-takes-all showdown between the teams on Saturday.

Jason Roy made 40 at the top of the England order and Ben Stokes smashed 46 at a strike-rate of 200 runs per 100 deliveries, only to be dismissed within sight of a first half-century in the format at international level.

Shardul Thakur dismissed Stokes and Morgan in successive deliveries at the start of the 17th over, yet it was all-rounder Hardik Pandya who was the pick of India's attack, finishing with figures of 2-16.

While Thakur was put under pressure when the equation of 23 runs from the final over was reduced to 10 off three balls, Archer's late boundary hitting was not enough for the tourists to snatch victory.

Suryakumar Yadav had earlier capitalised on the opportunity presented by an injury to Ishan Kishan, top-scoring with 57 from 31 deliveries for India. 

His innings included six fours and three sixes and proved crucial for the hosts, with openers Rohit Sharma (12 from 12 balls) and KL Rahul (14 from 17) once again struggling to gain momentum during the critical powerplay.

Virat Kohli had scored 150 runs without being dismissed in the previous two games, but India's captain was out for just one this time, beaten by a googly from Adil Rashid to be stumped by a distance. He finished the game off the field due to injury too, leaving Rohit in charge for the conclusion.

Rishabh Pant was also subdued in making 30, though Shreyas Iyer slammed 37 from just 18 deliveries to help compile comfortably the biggest total by either team in the series so far.

England are confident spinner Dom Bess will rediscover his rhythm after being left frazzled by India's batsman and his own wayward line on day two of the fourth Test.

India reached 294-7 thanks to a stunning 115-ball century from Rishabh Pant, who helped the hosts establish an 89-run lead, after surviving a big lbw shout from Bess shortly before tea.

Bess finished without reward, with figures of 0-56 in 15 overs pointing to a lack of threat from the 23-year-old off-spinner. He bowled with a lack of control at times, throwing in far too many full tosses, and will want to get among the wickets on Saturday morning and put a bad Friday behind him.

He was recalled for this contest in Ahmedabad having been left out for the second and third Tests, both of which England lost after making a winning start to the series in Chennai.

England spin coach Jeetan Patel said Bess had "needed a break" and was "jaded" by his experience of that opening match.

But Patel trusts Bess is capable of troubling batsmen again, and said of his disappointing performance so far in this match: "It's no real one thing, it's just a fact it didn't work out for him today.

"There's still room for him to improve, like everyone in this group, but Bessy's still very young. He's still learning how to bowl red ball at Test level which is very difficult. He'll be better for these experiences going forward.

"There's some things with Bessy that we'd like to get into. He's got time after this Test match to get back and look at that, but right now he's got a job to do and that's getting those three wickets tomorrow.

"He would have liked to have bowled a lot better today and liked to have given a lot more to the group, and it didn't work out for him. They played him very well. They sat on him and looked for balls to score off when they could.

"Right now he will be quite down and quite tired, but the beauty of this game is the fact there is another opportunity tomorrow."

Ben Stokes, by contrast, was hailed as England's 'Superman' by Patel. 

Stokes took 2-73 in 22 overs to follow up his 55 with the bat on Thursday, and at stumps he appeared exhausted, having been running in amid searing heat.

"Stokesy's your man. He's the guy you want to go to for anything really," Patel said. "He's almost like a Superman with this sort of stuff. He really does enjoy the tough battles.

"He bowled a lot of overs today. He almost bowled the whole first session and he got some crucial wickets for us on the way.

"He's pretty cooked as you can imagine, but he's a warhorse and he loves it. He loves when it gets tough and he loves when it gets hot and tiring, and that's when he stands up most. Hopefully we see the best of him again tomorrow."

Patel said Pant's innings was "pretty special" but claimed the match was "still quite in the balance".

"He came out after that tea break and took it to us," Patel said of Pant's effort. "Hats have to go off to how they played that."

Ben Stokes said his heated exchange with Virat Kohli was an example of "two blokes who care what they do" after the England all-rounder was accused of hurling abuse at an India bowler.

Paceman Mohammed Siraj claimed he was targeted after bowling to Stokes, which led him to call captain Kohli to deal with the situation.

Kohli stepped in and words were exchanged before the umpires intervened, with the episode occurring before lunch on day one of the fourth Test in Ahmedabad.

Stokes went on to make 55 in England's 205 all out, with India reaching 24-1 at stumps in reply.

England star Stokes attempted to defuse the situation by declaring it a case of "two professionals showing they care about the sport they love and enjoy".

He added: "A lot gets said nowadays when two guys seem to come to words out in the middle. Completely nothing untoward. Two blokes who care what they do.

"Nowadays in cricket it's a massive talking point when you see two opponents having a word with each other. People seem to not lose their heads but seem to think it's all wrong.

"Look at it from a different way - it's two, three guys who care about what they're doing, care about who they're representing, playing against each other.

"We're competitors so we're not going to back down to anyone, whoever it may be."

Stokes was suffering with a stomach upset on day one but managed to get through his duties, which including serving as an opening bowler for the first time in a Test match.

England selected only one frontline paceman in James Anderson, with Stokes ready to step in whenever seam at both ends may be order of the day.

Given he was feeling unwell, Stokes admitted it was a day of mixed blessings.

"I won't go into details but I've had better days," the 29-year-old said in a post-match news conference.

Asked whether he could continue to play uninhibited for the rest of the match, Stokes said: "I'll just to have see, day by day."

England's latest disappointing day with the bat was one that Stokes did not shy away from.

After being swept aside in two days in the third Test, also in Ahmedabad, England can still salvage a series draw but must win this week.

"I think we're more than capable of scoring 300 on a wicket like that, so it's frustrating," Stokes said, "but we can't dwell on it too much.

"It was nice to get a wicket there at the end of the day.

"I know it's a much better wicket than it was in the last game we played here."

Ben Stokes fought off a stomach upset to prop up another dismal England batting effort as India dominated day one of the fourth Test.

The all-rounder battled his way to 55 in a team total of 205 at the Narendra Modi Stadium, with England's hopes of drawing this series now seemingly in the hands of their bowlers.

James Anderson snatched the wicket of Shubman Gill from the third ball of India's reply, with the home team reaching stumps on 24-1.

After heavy defeats in Chennai and then inside two days last week in Ahmedabad, the second match of the series to be played at this stadium looked to be following a depressingly familiar pattern for England supporters.

England at least passed 200, having not done so for five successive innings, but that was small consolation as they again proved fragile against India's spinners. They need a win in this final match to draw the series.

There was much to enjoy for the Indian crowd, who savoured the sight of Zak Crawley, Dom Sibley and captain Joe Root all back in the hutch with just 30 runs on the board in the morning.

Axar Patel made the first incursions, bowling Sibley (2) off a slight inside edge as the England man waited for the turn that never came. That was from Axar's second ball of the match, and having taken 11 wickets in the previous Test, it was a foreboding message to England.

The left-arm spinner snared his second victim of this match when he had Crawley caught at mid-off, the batsman on the charge but hoisting the ball with a lack of control.

Root's recent hot streak very much ended in Chennai, and his pair of cheap dismissals in last week's third Test in Ahmedabad was emblematic of England's wider failings. His struggles continued when he was removed for just five this time, pinned lbw by Mohammed Siraj.

Jonny Bairstow and Ben Stokes began to rebuild for England, before Bairstow (28) went the same way as Yorkshire colleague Root when Siraj struck for a second time.

Stokes, shrugging off his stomach complaint, had been going through his repertoire, sweeping, reverse-sweeping, and looking in good shape, until Washington Sundar trapped him in front.

Ollie Pope (29) and Dan Lawrence (46) made starts but could not stay out there long enough.

The tourists scraped their way above 200, but former captain Andrew Strauss, analysing for Channel 4, lamented what he described as "a poor batting performance from England, there's no two ways about it".


New role for Stokes

With Jofra Archer ruled out by his ongoing right elbow problem, England elected to name James Anderson as their one frontline seamer, deciding the pitch would be most receptive to spin and pairing Jack Leach with Dom Bess. It was therefore Stokes to whom England turned as an opening pace partner for Anderson. Stokes has fulfilled various roles in his storied England career but this was his first stint as an opening bowler. With the all-rounder perhaps not in the best health for it, it was little surprise when he was taken out of the attack after bowling two overs.

Axar and Ashwin put England in a spin... again

Three lbw verdicts to spin in England's innings told its own story. Stokes, Bess and Leach could not pick the straight ball, with Axar, Ashwin and Washington Sundar getting a wicket each that way. Axar finished with 4-68, Ashwin took 3-47, and England must hope their own spin squad of Bess, Leach and perhaps skipper Root can inflict similar damage on day two. India took advantage of some poor batting from England though, and a better-focused India effort could see them take the match away from the tourists. Axar, remarkably, has 22 wickets at 10.81 in his Test career to date.

Ben Stokes said the "phenomenal" Joe Root "makes us all feel pretty rubbish" with how easy he makes batting look after the England captain scored a record-breaking double century in Chennai.

Root became the first player to craft a double hundred in his 100th Test as England piled on the runs on day two of the series against India, closing on 555-8.

The imperious in-form skipper struck a magnificent 218 to replace Alec Stewart as England's third-highest Test run-scorer, with Stokes making a brilliant 82 on his return to the side.

Root, who reached his fifth double hundred in the longest format by coming down the track and hitting Ravichandran Ashwin for six, has now racked up 644 in his past three Tests after a dream series in Sri Lanka.

Stokes rates the Yorkshireman as the best player of spin England have ever had after his latest masterclass.

Asked about Root's exploits, Stokes said: "He makes us all feel pretty rubbish with how easy he makes batting look. I was quite surprised he ran down the wicket and hacked a six to bring up a double.

"He's in phenomenal form, just making things look very, very easy. The way that he dominates spin is incredible to watch and I don't think we've had an England batsman ever play spin in the way he does.

"He's got an option and answer for everything that's thrown at him and he's just a delight to watch at the moment."

Stokes was happy to hit the ground running after he was rested for the 2-0 whitewash of Sri Lanka and hopes the tourists can keep India in the field for another hour on day three before doing damage with the ball.

The all-rounder said: "It's nice to come back in after a bit of time off and spend some time in the middle. After putting ourselves in and being 500 and whatever we are with two wickets left going into day three, we're in a very strong position."

He added: "[There were] no thoughts whatsoever of a declaration tonight because that would be stupid if we won the toss and bat first.

"You just get as many runs as you can out here in India and if we can bat for another hour tomorrow we'd be very happy with that."

Stokes knows the England bowlers must be on the money if they are to take a 1-0 lead on a pitch that has been flat in the first two days but will deteriorate.

The vice-captain said: "Generally wickets don't get any better out here in India, especially when the heat blazes on it.

"It's going to get drier, it's going to break up, it's going to deteriorate but just because we've got out there and scored big first-innings runs, that doesn't give us the right to bowl them out twice, like we'd hope to do.

"We know we've still got a lot of hard work to do as a bowling unit here because it is tough to take 20 wickets anywhere, but out here sometimes 20 wickets is hard to come by, so we know we've got a big challenge ahead of us."

Joe Root became the first player to mark a 100th Test cap with a double century as England made India toil again on day two of the series in Chennai.

Root resumed on 128 at M. A. Chidambaram Stadium on Saturday and the captain went on to make a magnificent 218, putting on 124 for the fourth wicket with the brilliant Ben Stokes (82).

The tourists were in a commanding position on 555-8 at stumps on a day which saw the imperious Root take centre stage once again.

Yorkshireman Root moved above Alec Stewart to go third on the list of England's leading Test run-scorers with another masterclass, taking his staggering tally of runs to 644 in his last three Tests.

Having made 228 in the first innings of the first Test against Sri Lanka and a century in the second match in Galle, where England sealed a 2-0 whitewash, Root registered his fifth double century in the longest format as India bowlers were made to suffer in the heat.

Jasprit Bumrah removed Dom Sibley for 87 in the final over on day one, but Virat Kohli's side failed to make a breakthrough in the morning session on the second day.

Root was 156 not out at lunch and Stokes on 63 with England in command at 355-3 and Stokes was the only man to fall before tea, caught by a juggling Cheteshwar Pujara off Shahbaz Nadeem in the deep.

Ollie Pope made 34 on his return from a shoulder injury before he fell to Ravichandran Ashwin and Root's marathon knock was finally ended when he was trapped leg before by Nadeem, with England 477-6.

Ishant Sharma bowled Jos Buttler (30) and Jofra Archer first ball, but Dom Bess and Jack Leach were still there at the close. Rohit Sharma inexplicably dropped Bess at midwicket on 18, which just about summed up India's day.

Relentless Root leaves India in double trouble

After becoming the ninth player to make a hundred in his 100th Test on day one of the series, Root went on to etch his name in the record books.

The 30-year-old put on another exhibition of how to bat against spin, using his feet superbly, sweeping impeccably and showing incredible powers of concentration.

Root spent almost nine hours at the crease before he was trapped in front by Ashwin, hitting two sixes and 19 boundaries. Kohli offered a handshake as he made his way back to the pavilion after one of the great Test knocks.

 

Stokes hits the ground running, Ishant on the brink of landmark

Stokes missed the 2-0 whitewash of Sri Lanka last month, as he was given a hard-earned rest.

There was no rest for India in the field as the all-rounder hit the ground running in his first match of the year, clearing the rope three times and hitting 10 fours.

Paceman Ishant was impressively economical on a flat track. He was on a hat-trick after cleaning up Buttler and Jofra Archer, but Jack Leach denied him that feat.

National selector Ed Smith says Jonny Bairstow understands why he has not been included in the England squad for the first half of their Test series against India.

Bairstow, Sam Curran and Mark Wood have been rested for the opening two matches of a series that gets underway at MA Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai on February 5.

Jofra Archer, Ben Stokes and Rory Burns return, while Ollie Pope will be added to a 16-man squad when he has fully recovered from a shoulder operation.

The squad was named on the eve of a second Test versus Sri Lanka which England will start looking to secure a 2-0 series whitewash.

Batsman Bairstow made 47 and an unbeaten 35 in a seven-wicket win for the tourists in Galle last week after being recalled for a first Test appearance since facing South Africa at the end of 2019.

Smith explained that the decision to omit Bairstow was taken to ensure he has enough time off with such a hectic schedule to come this year, including the T20 World Cup in India.

"I spoke at length to Jonny yesterday, as well as at Loughborough before the Sri Lankan tour," Smith said.

"[I said to Bairstow he has] a fantastic opportunity coming up in Sri Lanka, where we expect you to get game time. But at some point, as is the case with the other multi-format players, you're going to need your rest too, and he completely understands that and endorses it."

Smith added: "Whenever you take rest there's always a downside. These guys, Jonny included, love playing for England, but they also understand that they need their rest, so there's always two sides to it.

"But it felt right for Jonny to take his break now, because obviously he's a key part of the white-ball set-up, so that he can continue on with that when he comes back into the Test squad, as we build towards a very important cycle in the T20s, with the World Cup in the autumn."

Smith was impressed with the impact Bairstow made on his return in the longest format.

"It was great to see Jonny looking very focused and clear in Test cricket. He was given lots of visibility ahead of time that he would be likely to bat three, playing as a batsman," he said.

"But over the long term, as I've said many times, I think Jonny is a highly talented player, and we know he brings a lot to the party and can play a number of different roles. That remains the case."

 

England squad for first two Tests against India: 

Joe Root (captain), Jofra Archer, Moeen Ali, James Anderson, Dom Bess, Stuart Broad, Rory Burns, Jos Buttler, Zak Crawley, Ben Foakes, Dan Lawrence, Jack Leach, Dom Sibley, Ben Stokes, Olly Stone, Chris Woakes.

Reserves:

James Bracey, Mason Crane, Saqib Mahmood, Matt Parkinson, Ollie Robinson, Amar Virdi.

Jonny Bairstow, Sam Curran and Mark Wood have not been included in the England squad for the opening two Tests against India.

Batsman Bairstow, all-rounder Curran and paceman Wood have been rested and will fly home after the ongoing Test series in Sri Lanka along with quick Craig Overton.

Jofra Archer, Ben Stokes and Rory Burns are back in the squad for a series that starts at MA Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai on February 5.

Fast bowler Archer and all-rounder Stokes did not travel to Sri Lanka as they were given a break, while opening batsman Burns stayed at home for the birth of his first child.

Batsman Ollie Pope will fly out to India and be added to a 16-man squad when he has fully recovered from a shoulder operation.

The national selectors have also named six travelling reserves, three of which are spinners, for the series against an India side on a high from a dramatic 2-1 victory in Australia.

 

England squad for first two Tests against India: 

Joe Root (captain), Jofra Archer, Moeen Ali, James Anderson, Dom Bess, Stuart Broad, Rory Burns, Jos Buttler, Zak Crawley, Ben Foakes, Dan Lawrence, Jack Leach, Dom Sibley, Ben Stokes, Olly Stone, Chris Woakes.

Reserves:

James Bracey, Mason Crane, Saqib Mahmood, Matt Parkinson, Ollie Robinson, Amar Virdi.

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