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.

Kirk Edwards had a top score of 46 and Brian Lara scored an unbeaten 31 to spur West Indies Legends to their first win, a five-wicket victory over Bangladesh Legends in the Road Safety World Series Friday night.

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."

Eoin Morgan says Jofra Archer is a "huge asset" to England after the paceman hit out at suggestions he is not committed to playing Test cricket.

Archer is expected to be in the England side when they start a five-match Twenty20 International series against India at Narendra Modi Stadium on Friday, having missed the final Test at the same Ahmedabad venue due to an elbow injury.

Former England captain Michael Vaughan questioned Archer's desire for featuring in the longest format, comments which clearly irked the paceman.

Archer wrote in his Daily Mail column: "A lot of people are saying a lot of things about my right elbow, and so as the person the elbow belongs to, I would like to say something in response.

"Let me be clear about something: I've never changed my attitude towards playing for England. I've always wanted to play all three formats. That hasn't changed, and never will as far as I'm concerned.

"I always dreamed of playing Test cricket and don't feel I've had a bad game so far – yet unless I am taking four or five wickets in an innings, I am placed under scrutiny and some people start trying to decipher what's going on.

"Comments like 'he's not committed' or 'he's not good enough' appear as soon as you are not 110 per cent. I find it quite annoying how people read into stuff and form their own opinions.

"I saw one article from Michael Vaughan in which he said: 'If Jofra doesn't love Test cricket, England need to find out why.' We've never had a conversation about cricket, so I found it a bit odd. He doesn't know what makes me tick. He doesn't know what's driving me."

And white-ball captain Morgan said he has had no problems with World Cup winner Archer. In fact quite the opposite.

"He's a huge asset," said England's skipper. "He's a guy that bowls in three parts of the game and can be threatening whenever he comes on. He obviously has express pace, can bowl cutters, variations, and has a very good yorker. He's a huge asset in any format."

Asked if he finds Archer easy to captain, Morgan replied: "I do. He's always been engaging. He is a younger member of our squad that has different interests to the majority of our squad, because the majority of our squad is in their late 20s, early 30s.

"He loves enjoying what he does, in travelling, playing Xbox, playing cricket, playing in front of big, big crowds and he is a huge family man.

"The more I have got to know him: one, the better our relationship is but two, the more I have grown to enjoy his company away from the game because I have got to know him more. He's a funny guy."

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.

Rishabh Pant has revealed he took on a jaw-dropping reverse sweep against James Anderson because he felt it was a day when he could do no wrong.

Test cricket's most prolific pace bowler was staggered to be carved away to the boundary in such an unorthodox manner, as India got the better of England on day two in Ahmedabad.

Anderson had only just taken the new ball and had seen it already thrashed to the boundary by Pant from successive balls.

On his way to 101, Pant decided the moment was ripe to paddle Anderson over the England slips for one of the most remarkable shots likely to be played in a Test.

The fourth and final match of the series is leaning heavily India's way after they reached the close on 294-7, with a first-innings lead of 89 runs. 

Pant said of his special shot: "You have to premeditate that, but when everything is going your way you can try your luck sometimes."

Quoted in the Times of India, he said: "I get the license most of the time, but I have to assess the situation and take the game head on. I like to make the team win and if the crowd is entertained by that, I'm happy."

Pant came to the crease with India in trouble on 80-4, and they were also stumbling at 146-6, but his alliance with Washington Sundar (60 not out) turned the momentum of the game.

Anderson eventually took revenge, having Pant caught by Joe Root to end a 118-ball innings, but it was the batsman's day after he began with a cautious approach.

"If the bowlers are bowling well, respect it and take the singles, and that was on my mind," Pant said. "I like to play the situation and I just see the ball and react - that's the USP of my game.

"The team plan was to get to 206, past the England total, and then get as many runs as possible after that as a batting unit."

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.

Joe Root says England must not be "scared" about batting on another sharply turning wicket and have no "scars" from back-to-back defeats as they eye a 2-2 Test series draw with India.

The tourists are out of contention to play New Zealand in the ICC World Test Championship final at Lord's after India responded to a crushing defeat in the first match of the series with two resounding wins.

England can ensure it will be Australia rather than Virat Kohli's side who face the Black Caps if they come out on top in Narendra Modi Stadium in a match that starts on Thursday.

Spinners Ravichandran Ashwin and Axar Patel have tormented the England batsmen in the previous two matches in Chennai and Ahmedabad, generating huge turn from day one.

England were beaten inside two days in the third Test after been skittled out for 112 and 81, with Kohli stating batsmen had not shown the skill required to contend with the conditions.

India captain Kohli also expressed his frustration over so much talk of the quality of the surfaces, but there have been no complaints from the England camp and Root knows they must raise their game.

The England captain, who gave nothing away over selection, said in a news conference on Wednesday: "I think the most important thing is that we learn all the lessons from the last two Test matches and make sure we're better for it.

"It's important that if we get ourselves in a similar position in the first innings, we really make that count and try and get some scoreboard pressure early on."

Asked about Kohli's comments on England's batting, he said: "I think that as batters, if you don't score runs you will always look at yourselves, you will always look at ways to try to improve and we've certainly done that.

"We've looked at a couple of dismissals, we've look at how we are going to find ways of building big partnerships and getting some significant scores if it is a similar surface, figuring out a game plan that suits each individual and in turn get those partnerships which we know is so important in Test cricket."

He added: "I think the most important thing is that as a batting group we are very clear about how we want to play, and we go into the game full of confidence.

"We have no scars from the last two Tests, and we play in a controlled, but fearless way. We shouldn't be scared about the surface in any sort of way or the guys bowling on it.

"It's very important we stay very calm, clear about how we want to score runs and trust both defence and when we want to score as well, trust those shots that make us the players we are."

Root revealed assistant coach Paul Collingwood and another member of the backroom team have been suffering from illness, but the players were not affected ahead of a Test for which Dom Bess is expected to be recalled.

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.

Australia off-spinner Nathan Lyon mocked England's team selection for their third Test hammering by India – declaring the spectacle on a sharply turning pitch in Ahmedabad to be "absolutely brilliant".

The tourists recalled James Anderson and Jofra Archer to feature alongside Stuart Broad and all-rounder Ben Stokes, in anticipation of conditions in the day/night Test being favourable to seamers.

However, a volatile surface offered assistance to spinners from the very start, with England bundled out for 112 and 81 as they lost by 10 wickets.

India only managed 145 in their first innings and England skipper Joe Root claimed career-best figures of 5-8 with his part time off-spin.

Despite being a far more respected practitioner of that particular craft, Lyon insisted he had no qualms over a surface that drew criticism from former England captains Michael Vaughan, Andrew Strauss and Alastair Cook.

"The best thing about this Test match that just passed is that England went in with four seamers," Lyon said, as quoted by cricket.com.au.

"That will do me. I don't need to say any more.

"I was up all night watching it. It was absolutely brilliant. I'm thinking about bringing that curator out to the SCG."

Lyon made a pointed reference to Australia's humiliating dismissals for 47 and 60 against South Africa and England in 2012 and 2015 respectively, when conditions favoured seam bowling.

"We play on seaming wickets around the world and get bowled out for 47, 60. Nobody ever says a thing [about the pitch]," he said.

"But as soon as it starts spinning, everyone in the world seems to start crying about it. I don't get it. I'm all for it, it was entertaining."

Despite Lyon's enjoyment of the latest match in the four-Test series, the result harmed Australia's prospects of reaching this year's World Test Championship final.

Only an England win in the final game can edge Tim Paine's side into the inaugural one-off showpiece against New Zealand at India's expense.

That would leave Australia out of action in the longest format until the start of their domestic season at the end of this year – an unhelpfully long time for speculation over ructions between coach Justin Langer and members of his team to fester.

"Me personally, if I had a problem with JL I'd go straight to him," Lyon added, casting doubt upon the rumours that emerged in the aftermath of Australia's humbling 2-1 home loss to an injury-ravaged India.

"But I don't have a problem with him. I don't understand where it's all coming from.

"I'd like to think anyone in that changing room or anyone at Cricket Australia or outside - if anyone has a problem with anyone, we're about being honest with each other."

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