Devdutt Padikkal made a magnificent century and Virat Kohli became the first player to reach 6,000 Indian Premier League runs as Royal Challengers Bangalore thrashed Rajasthan Royals by 10 wickets.

RCB made it four wins out of four to go top of the table courtesy of a magnificent run chase from their openers at Wankhede Stadium on Thursday.

The second-bottom Royals posted 177-9 in Mumbai following a poor start to their innings after Kohli put them in, Shivam Dube top-scoring with 46 and Rahul Tewatia making 40.

Mohammed Siraj was the pick of the RCB bowlers with figures of 3-27, while Harshal Patel claimed 3-47.

The imperious Padikkal and Kohli made light work of chasing down their target in only 16.3 overs, dishing out some brutal treatment in a sublime stand.

Padikkal made his highest IPL total with a sensational 101 not out from only 52 balls and Kohli was unbeaten on a classy 72 from 47 deliveries when RCB reached their victory target.

Big-money signing Chris Morris was among the Royals bowlers to suffer, going for 38 from three overs, while Shreyas Gopal (0-35) also struggled and Tewatia's two overs cost 23 runs.

A dominant win for RCB puts them two points clear at the summit in what has been a dream start to the tournament for Kohli's side.


Siraj strikes big early blows

India seamer Siraj struck two huge early blows as the Royals were reduced to 18-3 in the fifth over after being put in by Kohli.

He rattled Jos Buttler's off stump to send the wicketkeeper-batsman on his way for only eight and saw the back of David Miller for a second-ball duck, trapping the South Africa batsman leg before with a yorker.

Washington Sundar removed the dangerous Sanju Samson straight after he had hit him for six, before clean striking and improvisation from Dube and Tewatia - who had two sixes apiece - got Rajasthan up to a more competitive score than they had been in danger of posting.

 

Padikkal and Kohli put on a show

Padikkal was the main aggressor as RCB got the run chase off to a flyer, dominating the strike as Kohli ticked over at the other end.

It took Padikkal just 28 balls to reach his half-century and Bangalore had 107 on the board just 10 overs in.

Kohli clicked through the gears as he reached yet another landmark and Paddikal brought up a maiden IPL century in the 17th over, with victory almost secure. He cleared the rope six times and hit another 11 boundaries, while Kohli struck three sixes and six fours in a batting masterclass from the openers.

Royal Challengers Bangalore made it two wins from two in the Indian Premier League as Sunrisers Hyderabad's miserable record at M. A. Chidambaram Stadium continued on Wednesday.

Glenn Maxwell hit his first half-century in the tournament since 2016 as the Royal Challengers – who had beaten defending champions Mumbai Indians in their opening fixture – posted 149-8 after being put into bat.

Hyderabad appeared on course to prevail in pursuit of their target when they reached 96-1, only for the departure of captain David Warner – caught in the deep for 54 - to trigger a dramatic collapse.

Shahbaz Ahmed claimed three wickets in an over, including Jonny Bairstow and Manish Pandey with back-to-back deliveries, to completely change the complexion of a run chase that fell apart.

While Rashid Khan made 17 in a hurry the Sunrisers still finished up six runs short on 143-9, meaning they have still yet to win a completed fixture at the venue in Chennai.

Bangalore's innings had been similar too, captain Virat Kohli making 33 before his departure to Jason Holder started a mid-innings wobble, his team slipping from 91-2 to 109-6.

However, Maxwell eventually mastered the tough batting conditions, producing a late onslaught as 39 runs came from the final three overs. He was dismissed off the last delivery of the innings for 59, caught behind to give Holder final figures of 3-30.

Taking it to the Max

Maxwell endured a lean 2020 IPL campaign in the United Arab Emirates, averaging 15.42 for Kings XI Punjab as he made only 108 runs. Having been released ahead of the auction, Bangalore already appear to be getting plenty for their money.

The Australian has now scored 98 runs in his two innings for the Royal Challengers, who sit on top of the table in the embryonic stages of the season.

Chennai trouble for chasing teams

After Kolkata Knight Riders had faltered in pursuit of a 153-run target to lose narrowly against Mumbai at the ground 24 hours earlier, Sunrisers let the same situation happen when seemingly well on top.

Shahbaz (3-7) bowled only two overs, yet the second from the left-arm spinner saw Bairstow, Pandey - who struggled to up the pace as he made 38 from 39 balls - and Abdul Samad all caught off top-edged attempts to go big to the leg side.

Harshal Patel hit the winning run off the last ball after claiming a five-wicket haul as Royal Challengers Bangalore beat Mumbai Indians in a thrilling first game of the Indian Premier League.

Defending champions Mumbai collapsed from 94-1 after 11 overs to 159-9 after being put in by Virat Kohli, all-rounder Harshal taking 5-27 in Chennai on Friday and Chris Lynn top-scoring with 49.

Four wickets fell in the final over of the holders' innings at M.A. Chidambaram Stadium, with Harshal claiming his maiden five-wicket T20 haul in the first match of his second spell with RCB following his Delhi Capitals exit.

Bangalore were cruising with Kohli (33) and new signing Glenn Maxwell (39) at the crease, but it was game on when they were 122-6 in the 17th over after losing four wickets for 24 runs.

AB de Villiers looked set to see them home, but RCB were left needing two off as many balls for victory when the maverick wicketkeeper-batsman was run out for 48.

Harshal held his nerve to take a single off the final delivery from IPL debutant Marco Jansen (2-28), sealing a dramatic two-wicket win for big-spending RCB.

Five-time champions Mumbai, bidding to become the first team to win the tournament three times in a row, were ultimately made to pay for scoring only 25 runs in the last four overs of their innings.

Late Harshal burst rocks Mumbai

The holders appeared set to post a challenging total with Indians debutant Lynn and Suryakumar Yadav at the crease after Rohit Sharma was run out for 19, but they capitulated in spectacular fashion.

Powerful new recruit Lynn struck three sixes as the Australian and Suryakumar (31) put on 70 for the second wicket before they were removed by Washington Sundar and big-money signing Kyle Jamieson (1-27) respectively.

Paceman Harshal then took centre stage, trapping Ishan Kishan lbw before dismissing Krunal Pandya, Kieron Pollard and Jansen in an incredible final over that ended with Rahul Chahar being run out. 

 

De Villiers delivers, Harshal the hero

Maxwell put on a show along with Kohli after Sundar and Rajat Patidar fell cheaply, clearing the rope twice.

The Australia all-rounder was on his way when he ramped Jansen to Lynn at short fine leg and the South African paceman struck for a second time in the 15th over to send Shahbaz Ahmed packing.

De Villiers made it advantage RCB as 15 runs came off the 18th over from Trent Boult and although he was run out by Krunal after hitting a couple of sixes in a brilliant 27-ball knock, Harshal ensured his innings was not in vain.

Virat Kohli had few complaints about India's performance against England on Friday, acknowledging Ben Stokes and Jonny Bairstow "blew us away".

India set England 337 to win and level the three-match ODI series, a total the tourists sped to carried by Stokes and Bairstow.

While opener Bairstow contributed 124, Stokes stole the show with 99 off just 52 balls - including 49 off the next 11 after reaching his half-century. He has averaged 56.4 over 42 ODI innings since the start of 2017.

The stand of 175 - after Bairstow and Jason Roy had put on 110 for the first wicket - saw England have two hundred partnerships in the same ODI for the first time since the Cricket World Cup in June 2019.

Although Stokes and Bairstow fell in consecutive overs and briefly gave India hope, Dawid Malan and Liam Livingstone completed a six-wicket triumph with 39 balls to spare.

"I think we set up quite a decent total on the board," said captain Kohli, who scored 66 and remains one century shy of Sachin Tendulkar's record of 20 in men's ODIs in India.

"But England found a way to get that 100-run partnership and we hardly had any chances come our way.

"I thought they batted brilliantly well tonight. Yes, we did not execute some things as well as we wanted to, but that was some of the most amazing batting that you're going to see while chasing a total.

"You have to give credit where it's due and tonight they totally blew us away with that partnership of Jonny and Ben Stokes.

"We didn't even have a chance, that's how good they were together and they thoroughly deserved to win."

Bairstow has 20 sixes over his past three ODI innings against India and no England batsman has more maximums against them in this format than his 26.

The Yorkshire wicketkeeper was enthused by Kohli's praise, responding: "I'll take that! It's very kind of him to say that.

"He's been one of the best players around the world for a period of time. I'm very pleased, and likewise, pleased to be striking the ball the way I am at the moment."

Bairstow and Roy now have 13 century stands together, the most by an England pairing, while no opening partnership in men's ODIs can top their average of 61.6 (from 20 innings or more).

It is certainly a role Bairstow is enjoying, as he added: "I'm happy. Since opening the batting, I've got 11 [centuries], I think I've only opened 56, 57 times.

"I'm happy with those figures but those figures mean nothing if you don't keep converting them in the future. I'm happy with how I'm playing my cricket at the moment, really enjoying it."

Virat Kohli hailed "one of our sweetest victories" after India fought hard to overcome England by 66 runs in the opening ODI in Pune.

Man-of-the-match Shikhar Dhawan laid a solid foundation for India with an assured 98, missing out on three figures when he miscued a pull off Ben Stokes to Eoin Morgan at midwicket.

Kohli made a similarly fluent half-century but the hosts had stumbled to 202-5 when debutant Krunal Pandya joined KL Rahul in the 41st over.

Krunal (58 not out) laid waste to an otherwise impressive England bowling performance, his 26-ball fifty the fastest ever in a maiden ODI, while wicketkeeper Rahul similarly impressed with an unbeaten 62 as India posted 317-5.

England threatened to make short work of that total as Jonny Bairstow (94) and Jason Roy (46) motored to 135 without loss inside 15 overs, before India's seamers turned the contest on its head.

Prasidh Krishna, also on debut, was the pick with 4-54, while Shardul Thakur's 3-37 accounted for the dangerous trio of Bairstow, Morgan (22) and Jos Buttler (2), and the excellent Bhuvneshwar Kumar took 2-30.

"That's one of our sweetest victories in the recent past. We haven't won many good games in ODIs," India skipper Kohli said at the post-match presentation.

"It was a great comeback from all our bowlers after going for few runs early on. Prasidh was amazing, Krunal as well. Shardul, Bhuvi were amazing. I am a really proud man right now.

"The team showed great character and intensity. As I've mentioned in the past as well, we promote players who have intent and back their skills.

"A special mention to Shikhar's innings as well and KL was back among the runs. We want to back people who will do a selfless job.

"It's a healthy competition between everyone for every slot. We have two or three players available for every slot."

Perhaps not to quite the same extent, but world champions England have their own enviable depth of talent.

Nevertheless, the steadying hand of Joe Root at number three, where Stokes stepped up to be dismissed for one, and Jofra Archer's death bowling were certainly missed as both players undertake a period of rest.

As in the recent 3-2 reverse in the T20I series, captain Morgan was left to rue middle-order failings, with the plummet form 135-0 to 176-5 key in England's challenge fading to 251 all out with 47 deliveries unused.

Nevertheless, he stood by the aggressive approach that has brought his side so much recent success.

"I thought the bowlers were outstanding and there was a bit more on offer for their seamers," he said.

"The two openers were outstanding, but we failed to build on from that. We need to execute better than we did. India did really well and deserved to win.

"Being able to take the attack to the opposition is something that we pride ourselves on. We want to continue to push the envelope in that regard. It's better for us to lose like this than losing by 20 runs.

"The game is always moving forward, technology and fitness are moving forward, so we need to push hard as we can. It's important for us to dictate the way we play."

Virat Kohli has revealed he will open the batting during the upcoming Indian Premier League season as he prepares to take on that role for India in the Twenty20 World Cup later this year.

The 32-year-old was named at the top of the Indian order in a T20 international for just the second time since 2018 ahead of Saturday's series decider against England.

That decision paid off handsomely as Kohli struck an unbeaten 80 off 52 balls to help his country to a huge total of 224 and, ultimately, a 36-run victory that clinched a 3-2 series win.

And the captain explained after the match that he is planning to continue in an opening role for Royal Challengers Bangalore in the IPL next month, with one eye on doing the same for India when they host the T20 World Cup in October.

"I am going to open in the IPL as well," he told Star Sports.

"Look, I've batted at different positions in the past, but I feel like we do have a very solid middle order now, and now it's about your two best players getting the maximum number of balls in T20 cricket. So I would definitely like to partner Rohit at the top.

"As I rightly said, if we have a partnership and we both are set, then you know that one of us is going to cause some serious damage. That's exactly what we want. 

"And the other guys feel much more confident when one of us is still in and set, they know that they can play more freely. 

"It augurs well for the team and I would like this to continue, and hopefully continue that form through to the World Cup."

Kohli also revealed that India's preparations for the T20 World Cup will be aided by a number of short-form games against England to be played after their scheduled Test series in August and September.

He added: "I just found out that we might have some more after the Test series against England.

"[We are] more or less sorted [in terms of who will make the squad]. We are very very confident. Very happy with how things have panned out. We just want to keep moving forward with more positivity and fearlessness."

India clinched a 3-2 Twenty20 series victory over England after coming out on top in a high-scoring decider at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad.

The hosts triumphed by 36 runs as they prevailed for a second successive outing after being put into bat by visiting skipper Eoin Morgan, with the previous encounters all won by the team chasing.

Captain Virat Kohli – shifted up to open – led the way with 80 not out as India amassed 224-2, their fourth highest total in the shortest format.

Jos Buttler and Dawid Malan both made half-centuries as England raced out of the blocks in reply, yet their chase ran out of steam. Unable to hit boundaries regularly when it mattered, they finished up on 188-8.

India had also made a fast start when they batted thanks mainly to Rohit Sharma. He dominated an opening partnership worth 94, belatedly making a major contribution in the series with 64 from just 34 deliveries.

Ben Stokes finally ended the initial onslaught thanks to an inside edge onto the stumps, though there was little respite for England's bowlers as the runs continued to flow.

Suryakumar Yadav (32) wasted little time in going on the attack, hitting the second and third deliveries he faced during an Adil Rashid over for six, though the leg-spinner would later dismiss the right-hander thanks to a stunning catch in the deep.

Jason Roy ended up holding the ball, though his role was a minor one. Chris Jordan had taken a superb one-handed effort on the run from long-on, then passed it on to his waiting team-mate before stepping over the boundary.

Still, Hardik Pandya capitalised on his promotion up to four with 39 not out, combining with Kohli to add 81. Mark Wood and Chris Jordan both registered unwanted half-centuries with the ball, while Jofra Archer finished with 0-43 from his four overs.

England lost Jason Roy for a duck in the first over, yet Buttler and Malan made 52 and 68 respectively to keep the game firmly in the balance.

However, amid the run-scoring carnage, Bhuvneshwar Kumar claimed 2-15, including the crucial wicket of Buttler. The seam bowler's economical four overs helped put the brakes on England, who were 104-1 at the halfway stage before slipping off the pace.

World Cup on the horizon

The top two-ranked nations in T20 cricket did not disappoint in a series that offered the opportunity to explore options ahead of the World Cup on Indian soil later this year.

Kohli finished up averaging 115.5, yet new faces Yadav and Ishan Kishan also caught the eye for India with the bat. Similarly, Malan – who became the fastest player to 1,000 international runs in the format – showed in the finale how he can change his approach, depending on the match situation.

Jordan goes the distance

Not for the first time in his career, Jordan produced a sensational catch, this time to see off Yadav. However, while a fantastic asset in the field, he has struggled to have an impact with the ball in the five games.

Between overs 17-20, Jordan has been hit for eight sixes in the series. That is five more than the rest of the England attack combined, while an economy rate of 13.5 in that period will be a concern for captain Morgan.

Ishan Kishan enjoyed a stellar India debut as his brilliant 56 helped Virat Kohli's side to a seven-wicket triumph over England in the second Twenty20 International.

Hunting a record-setting, seventh successive oversees T20 victory, England were put in to bat in front of a vociferous, 70,000-strong crowd in Ahmedabad, where Jason Roy's 46 was not followed up as the tourists managed a relatively modest 164-6

Ishan took the chance to shine, the 22-year-old carrying his IPL form onto the international stage with a superb innings which included five fours and four sixes.

Rishabh Pant offered a great cameo of 26 from 13, before Kohli (73), who survived a lengthy stumping review, guided India to a convincing win that ties the series at 1-1.

The captain's decision-making paid off from the outset as he bowled first and Bhuvneshwar Kumar pinned Jos Buttler leg before three deliveries in, yet cool shots from Dawid Malan (24) and Roy put England on the front foot.

With Malan going lbw on review, Bhuvneshwar took a good catch on the boundary to send Roy packing four short of his half-century, before Jonny Bairstow looped to Suryakumar Yadav.

England still looked in a strong position, yet Eoin Morgan (28) and Ben Stokes (24) failed to capitalise on sluggish bowling late on.

KL Rahul's early dismissal then represented a promising start with the ball for England, but Ishan subsequently came to the fore.

With Kohli at the other end, the debutant set about dismantling England's attack, the pair's 16 from the final over of the powerplay putting the hosts in the driving seat.

Dropped by Stokes on 40, Ishan made England pay, surpassing 50 with successive sixes off Adil Rashid, although his magnificent innings came to an end when he was trapped lbw later in the same over.

Pant picked up where Ishan left off, lashing Rashid deep into the crowd before he sent Chris Jordan for 10 from two deliveries, only to pick out Bairstow with the next ball.

Having allowed the supporting cast their moments in the spotlight, Kohli picked his time to shine, moving onto 53 with a sublime lift over the long-off boundary.

Kohli was lucky to survive after smart work from Buttler behind the stumps, but there was no doubt India deserved their success and the skipper's supreme six wrapped things up in style.
 

India's faith in youth rewarded

After suffering a comprehensive defeat in the first match, India needed a response, and in the form of Ishan, who averaged 57.33 in the IPL last year, they may well have found their next T20 superstar.

Ishan is just the second India player to score a half-century on their T20 debut, after Ajinkya Rahane, who amassed 61 against England in Manchester in 2011.

Another landmark for clinical Kohli

Kohli's record in run chases is exceptional and, while Ishan will enjoy the limelight of a special debut, India's captain ensured he was not totally outdone.

He ultimately finished as the top scorer, and his composure and clinical shot selection was displayed in all its glory by a nonchalant, flick of the wrists for a six which not only confirmed victory, but also brought up his 3,000th T20I run.

England's bowlers produced an outstanding performance to lay the platform for an emphatic eight-wicket win in the first Twenty20 International against India.

The tourists were bamboozled by spin to lose the Test series but found a pitch much more to their liking at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad, a venue where they twice suffered heavy defeats to go down 3-1 in the longest format.

Jofra Archer led the way with figures of 3-23 as India – who host the ICC T20 World Cup later this year – were restricted to 124-7 after being put in by visiting captain Eoin Morgan.

England had no such problems in their reply, Jason Roy smashing 49 off 32 deliveries to help wrap up victory with 27 balls to spare. 

Jos Buttler contributed 28 in an opening partnership worth 72 with Roy, who hit three sixes before being trapped lbw by Washington Sundar, one of three frontline spinners selected by the hosts for the opener in a five-match series. 

By contrast, England fielded a solitary slow bowler in their XI. Leg-spinner Adil Rashid (1-14) claimed the prized scalp of Virat Kohli for a duck having opened the bowling in a T20 at international level for the first time. 

Archer and Mark Wood (1-20) also struck early blows as India limped along to 22-3 by the end of the batting powerplay. Shreyas Iyer led a recovery of sorts, top-scoring with 67, but their final total never appeared enough at the halfway point. 

Rishabh Pant (21) thrilled the crowd with an outrageous reverse sweep off Archer that went for six, yet could only pick out Jonny Bairstow when he flicked a full delivery from Ben Stokes into the deep. 

Iyer and Hardik Pandya (19) shared a half-century stand having come together at 48-4, only for the latter to become the first of two wickets in as many deliveries from the excellent Archer. 

England made sure there were no complications in the chase with a powerplay onslaught from their openers, allowing Dawid Malan and Bairstow to ease them to their paltry target, the duo finishing unbeaten on 24 and 26 not out respectively. 

Virat Kohli has ruled out Ravichandran Ashwin making a Twenty20 return for India anytime soon ahead of the five-match series against England.

Ashwin was named man of the series in a 3-1 Test series victory over England that sealed India's place in the ICC World Test Championship final against New Zealand.

The off-spinning all-rounder took 32 wickets and averaged 31.50 with the bat, scoring a magnificent century on his home ground in Chennai.

Ashwin has not played for his country in the shortest format since July 2017 and it appears that is not about to change with a Twenty20 World Cup to come on home soil this year, as India have full faith in Washington Sundar.

India captain Kohli said ahead of the first T20 on Friday: "Washington has been doing really well for us, so you can't have two players of the same discipline playing in one squad.

"Unless Washi has a drastically horrible season and things go south for him. The question has to be asked with some kind of logic as well.

"You suggest where you would add Ash and play him in the team when someone like Washington already does that job for the team. So, it's easy to ask the question but you should have a logical explanation to it yourself."

Kohli vowed his side would take a positive approach from the start when they face a top-ranked England team, with all matches in the series being played at Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad.

The skipper said: "The kind of players we have added into the squad is precisely to give our batting line-up more depth and not play in a similar kind of pattern that we have played with in the past.

"We want to be a side that plays free cricket, not have any baggage of lack of depth and one guy having to bat long enough to make sure we get to a big total.

"We have explosive batsmen in the team now, who can change the game at any stage even if you are two or three wickets down. That's exactly what we've tried to address in picking this squad.

"So this time around, you will see guys a bit more expressive in terms of approaching the innings, and playing more freely.

"I'm not worried about whether we have enough batsmen to take care of things if we lose a couple of wickets early, which was the case before to be honest. We didn't have enough depth in the batting to be able to play freely throughout the first 10 or 12 overs. But I see us being much more positive and free from this period onwards."

Rohit Sharma feels India have "a lot of work to do" before they challenge for T20 World Cup glory as they prepare to face top-ranked England in a mouthwatering five-match series.

India are on a high after beating England 3-1 to secure a place in the inaugural ICC World Test Championship final against New Zealand.

A strong England squad led by Eoin Morgan will be looking for revenge at the Narendra Modi Stadium, but face a huge test against an India side who have won six and drawn one of their previous seven series in the shortest format.

India sit second in the rankings and are eager to make a statement seven months before the T20 World Cup begins on home soil.

Vice-captain Rohit knows they are not the finished article ahead of the first match in Ahmedabad on Friday, with Suryakumar Yadav, Ishan Kishan and Rahul Tewatia in line to make their debuts.

The in-form batsman said: "It's nice for the fans also to look forward to something because it's not every second year you are playing the World Cup, otherwise the charm of the World Cup goes away.

"The freshness of the World Cup remains and it's going to be an exciting World Cup as it is being played in India. We are all looking forward to that but before that, we still have a lot of work to do."

England, who whitewashed South Africa 3-0 late last year, have not lost a T20 series since they were beaten by India in 2018.

 

Malan is the man

There will be an array of outstanding batsmen on show in what should be a pulsating series and it is Dawid Malan who comes into it as the best in the world in this format.

The left-hander was named man of the series in a whitewash of the Proteas, making a magnificent 99 not out in the final match at Newlands on the back of another half-century.

England have an embarrassment of riches in the batting department, with the likes of Morgan, Ben Stokes, Jonny Bairstow, Jos Buttler, Jason Roy and Sam Billings in the squad.

Liam Livingstone will also get the opportunity to make his mark after some explosive knocks for Perth Scorchers in the Big Bash League.

Kohli closing in on historic landmark, Pant returns

India captain Virat Kohli needs only 72 more runs to become the first man to reach the 3,000 mark in T20Is.

The prolific skipper averages 50.5 for his country in the shortest format and has more runs than anyone in matches between these two nations (346).

England will also need to remove Rishabh Pant before he gets into full flow, as the wicketkeeper-batsman demonstrated when he made a scintillating century in the final Test.

Pant, who has not played a T20 for India since January 2020, averages just 20.50 at international level in this format but that figure will surely be on the rise before long.

Key Opta Facts

- Kohli has dropped more catches than any other fielder from a Test-playing nation in men's T20Is since the start of 2019 (seven), three of which were rated as easy chances.

- Malan has the highest batting average of any man to log 10 or more T20I innings (53.4 from 19 knocks). Her has reached 50 in seven of his 12 overseas knocks.

- KL Rahul recorded 670 runs from his 14 knocks in the 2020 IPL. He comes into this series having scored more runs in men's T20Is than anyone else since November 2019 (643).

- Yuzvendra Chahal is responsible for the best figures ever recorded against England in a men's T20I (6/25 in February 2017). The spinner is the leading wicket-taker in this fixture (nine), but has only claimed 15 scalps at an average of just 42.1 since the start of 2019.

Virat Kohli believes India delivered on the challenge to show "fearlessness" against England as the hosts scorched to a series-clinching victory in Ahmedabad.

A crushing win by an innings and 25 runs at the Narendra Modi Stadium sealed a 3-1 triumph for India, capping an impressive recovery after going down to defeat in the opener.

The first two Tests were played in Chennai, with the third and fourth in Ahmedabad, and once India were jolted to form by their early setback they found dominant form.

"I think the comeback pleased me the most," Kohli said. "I think the first game was a bit of an aberration, in the way that we play as a team.

"There was just a hiccup and I think England outplayed us. From the next game onward it was more exciting cricket and we got into the game early."

India have booked a showdown with New Zealand in the World Test Championship final, which is due to take place in England in June, at Lord's if COVID-19 conditions allow.

"Now we can accept we are in the final," Kohli said. "It was more of a distraction until now for us, because we are a side that is very committed to playing Test cricket and these extra things can be a distraction.

"Now we are in the final which we can't wait to be a part of."

India had a host of star performers against England, with a number of outstanding contributions in the final match. Rishabh Pant was named man of the match after his stellar century and Axar Patel took nine wickets to reach 27 from his first three Test appearances, having forged an outstanding spin partnership with Ravichandran Ashwin.

Kohli pointed to Rohit Sharma's 161 in the first innings of the second Chennai match as the most telling contribution in the series.

"Ashwin's obviously been a banker in the last six, seven years in Test cricket – his numbers speak volumes for what he's done in the last few years," Kohli said, speaking at the post-match presentation.

"But I think Rohit's knock was the defining moment in us coming back into the series, getting 160 on that pitch is as good as a 250 on any good batting wicket

"It's definitely one of his best Test knocks, if not the best, and that gave us the kind of momentum we needed as a side and really got us into the contest. It was an outstanding innings."

Kohli explained: "After the first game, we had to up our body language. We spoke about the fact that nothing's a given whether you're playing at home or away.

"Every team at international level is a quality side and we need to be at our A game to be able to beat them and that's exactly what our mindset is.

"I know in future we'll have hiccups, we'll have a few things that will be of concern, but we'll have to keep ironing them out and that's been the hallmark of our team.

"Our bench strength is as strong as it's ever been and that's a great sign for Indian cricket.

"The idea was to have youngsters who come in and perform with fearlessness, take the situations on, so when the transition happens eventually it's not difficult for Indian cricket and the standard doesn't fall below what we have set in the last few years."

He pointed to Pant, Washington Sundar and Axar showing tenacity with the bat in India's innings in the fourth Test. 

"These are the kind of situations where individuals stand up and say, 'Okay, I'm going to make a mark and make a name for himself and be that player that can be counted on', and that's exactly what they've done," Kohli said.

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."

India captain Virat Kohli has criticised the "narrative" around spinning pitches ahead of the fourth and final Test against England. 

The hosts hold a 2-1 lead in the series going into the match, having bounced back from a heavy opening defeat inspired by Joe Root's double century to record wins of their own in Chennai and Ahmedabad. 

During the latter two encounters, India spinners Ravichandran Ashwin and Axar Patel found prodigious turn, with the third Test over inside two days as England were dismissed for 112 and 81. 

India's 145 all out was perhaps the most eyebrow raising score though, as Kohli's opposite number Root claimed 5-8 with his part-time off-spin. 

Nevertheless, Kohli insists the scrutiny given to playing surfaces that offer early assistance to spin bowlers is disproportionate when set against those where seamers enjoy an advantage. 

"I totally believe that there's always too much noise and conversation about spinning tracks," he said. 

"Unfortunately, everyone sort of plays along with that narrative and keeps making it news. 

"If a Test match happens and we win on day four or day five, no one says anything. If a match finishes in two days everyone pounces on the same issue. 

"It has always been the case that spinning tracks come into focus way more. When the ball seams on a particular pitch and teams get bundled out for 40, 50 or 60, no one writes about the pitch. It's always about bad batting. 

"I think we need to be very honest with ourselves. What space are we talking from and what is the idea behind continuing this narrative? What purpose does it serve people who keep coming this conversation, which is quite one-sided?"

Bad batting was a huge part of the problem last time out according to Kohli. 

The teams reconvene at the Narendra Modi Stadium on Thursday for a traditional red-ball Test, with questions also having been posed over how easy it was to pick the pink ball used in the day-nighter. 

"I don't understand why a cricket ball or a cricket pitch, all these things are brought into focus," Kohli countered. 

"Why don't we focus on the fact that the batsmen were just not skilled enough on that pitch to play properly. 

"It was a bizarre display of batting by both teams. I will continue to maintain that, because I've played this game long enough to understand what happens on the cricket field. 

"It's not a change in ball colour. It's still round, it still weights five-and-a-half ounces. I don't know what difference it makes suddenly." 

If India avoid defeat, they will secure a place in the ICC World Test Championship final against New Zealand at Lord's later this year. However, a victory for England would see their Ashes rivals Australia sneak into the inaugural showpiece.

India will hope England fail another trial by spin at the Narendra Modi Stadium when Virat Kohli's side attempt to secure their place in the ICC World Test Championship final.

The tourists won the first match of the series, but back-to-back victories have ended their hopes of facing New Zealand in another final at Lord's.

In-form India only need to avoid defeat in a fourth and final match of the series, which starts in Ahmedabad on Thursday, with Australia hoping England salvage a 2-2 draw to set up a trans-Tasman showdown.

India won the third Test at the same venue by 10 wickets inside two days to take a 2-1 lead, as England were unable to contend with huge turn generated by the spinners on a much-discussed playing surface.

Ravichandran Ashwin and Axar Patel wrought havoc to put the side who sit second in the rankings on the verge of the final in London.

Root not thinking of Australia

Of course, the situation in the series leaves England in the unusual position of trying to do old rivals Australia a favour.

"I wouldn’t see it as that. I would see it as us ending the series as a draw and having done something special in India," captain Joe Root told reporters.

"Ultimately it is about not having any baggage going into this game. [Winning] would be a monumental effort from this group of players."

 

Rahane: India planning to turn the screw

England have kept quiet about the standard of the pitches in the second and third Tests, concentrating on trying to learn from their struggles in such tough conditions.

India vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane says the tourists can expect more of the same.

"The wicket will be similar to the third Test match and also the second Test in Chennai. Spinning track." the batsman said.

He added: "Talk [about the pitch] happening outside is not at all affecting Indian team. We are concentrating on what we have to do. When we tour we never complain about a pitch."

England to save their Bess for last?

The tourists went with just one frontline spinner in the third Test, with Jack Leach getting the nod ahead of Dom Bess.

Root showed he possibly ought to be more than just a part-time bowler, claiming a stunning maiden five-wicket Test haul with incredible figures of 5-8 as India collapsed to 145 in their first innings.

Bess could join Leach in the team for the last match of the series, having taken five wickets in a first Test that England won by 227 runs and impressed in Sri Lanka.

 

Key match facts

- India are yet to lose a Test at Narendra Modi Stadium versus England (W2, D1). They have only been beaten twice on the ground in the longest format, winning five and drawing six.

- England have failed to post totals of more than 178 in five of their six innings in the series. The 193 they made combined in two innings in the third Test is the fourth-fewest they have mustered in a Test match when they were bowled out in both knocks.

- Root has only been out twice when playing a conventional or reverse sweep since the start of the Sri Lanka Test tour, scoring 233 runs in the process. The other England batsmen have recorded 206 runs between them over the same period, being dismissed on 12 occasions when deploying those strokes.

- James Anderson has gone 454 deliveries without dismissing Virat Kohli in Test cricket; the India skipper has been dropped three times off his bowling in that time.

- Ashwin has dismissed Ben Stokes on 11 occasions in the longest format, almost twice the number of any other bowler The England all-rounder only averages 18 against the India spinner.

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