England gave India a leg-up in the absence of Ravichandran Ashwin as Joe Root and Ben Duckett gifted away their wickets on the third morning of the third Test in Rajkot.

Ashwin’s bombshell withdrawal from the Test the previous evening because of a family emergency meant India could only replace their premier spinner with a substitute fielder, depleting their bowling.

But they found their guests in obliging mood as Root’s patented reverse ramp, with which he has had success in the past, off Jasprit Bumrah was brilliantly caught by Yashasvi Jaiswal at second slip.

After Jonny Bairstow fell for a record-breaking eighth duck against India, Duckett, who had batted with panache in an incredible counter-attacking 88-ball hundred on day two, toe-ended a Kuldeep Yadav long hop to cover for 153 as England lurched from 224 for two to 290 for five at lunch.

Memories of England burning themselves in last year’s Ashes Test at Lord’s – when several batters were caught hooking despite the absence of injured Australia spinner Nathan Lyon – came flooding back.

Captain Ben Stokes (39 not out) on his 100th Test and Ben Foakes (6no) survived some testing moments but England still trail by 155 runs on a pitch that is offering more assistance to the bowlers.

India used just three bowlers for most of the morning with Ravindra Jadeja, back from a hamstring injury sending down an over before lunch.

Before that, Bumrah and Mohammed Siraj dovetailed at one end with Kuldeep operating from the other.

Wickets had fallen early in each of the two previous days but the breakthrough on Saturday owed more to a rash stroke from Root rather than skill from Jasprit Bumrah. The match situation did not require a bold gambit but Root’s attempt to up the ante merely allowed India to get their tails up.

Root’s dismissal for 18 means he has failed to pass 30 in five innings in this series while he has been dismissed nine times in 21 innings by Bumrah.

Root’s dismissal was put into harsher context when Bairstow was plumb lbw after Yadav found sharp turn, with the Yorkshireman burning a review. No other batter in history has made more ducks against India than Bairstow.

Duckett was not as authoritative as the previous evening and gave the slightest of chances on 149, with Rohit Sharma getting a fingertip to an edge, before the left-handed opener moved to 150 off 139 balls.

He added just another three off 12 deliveries, which perhaps contributed to his eyes lighting up when a short and wide delivery was offered by Kuldeep but Duckett horribly miscued.

Ben Stokes has had an air of indifference at playing in his 100th Test but the England captain was “pretty emotional” at receiving his cap in a behind-closed-doors presentation.

England players typically hold a team huddle on the outfield before play to commemorate landmark appearances but Stokes this week described joining the 100 Test club as “just a number”.

In keeping with Stokes’ philosophy about personal milestones, his cap presentation took place in England’s dressing room before the opening day of the third Test against India in Rajkot got under way.

England assistant Paul Collingwood was tight-lipped about what he said to Stokes before handing over the cap but thought his former Durham team-mate was touched by the sentiments expressed.

“It was a real honour to be asked to present the cap in the first place,” Collingwood said.

“I’ve known Ben since he’s been a young whipper-snapper at Durham. It was great just to say a few nice words.

“It was just to really applaud what he’s achieved in his career so far, it’s certainly not coming to an end – hopefully he’s got another 100 Test caps in him.

“From the team’s point of view, it was to thank him for what he’s done and just the way he pushes the boundaries all the time and fills every player and member of coaching staff with confidence.

“It’s a great moment for him, I’m sure he’ll not be overly bothered about 100 Test caps but you could see once I was speaking he was pretty emotional to receive that cap.”

With the series level at 1-1 and resuming after a 10-day break, England made a terrific start as the recalled Mark Wood found the edges of Yashasvi Jaiswal and Shubman Gill to leave India on 33 for three.

Some early morning moisture aided England’s bowlers but as sun beat down on the Saurashtra Cricket Association Stadium, the pitch flattened out and Rohit Sharma and Ravindra Jadeja capitalised.

Rohit made 131 after being given a reprieve on 27 when Joe Root shelled a tough chance, which would have left India on 47 for four, while Jadeja contributed a princely 110 not out on his return from a hamstring injury at his home ground as India finished an engrossing day on 326 for five.

Wood eventually got reward for his short-ball plan by snaring Rohit to finish with three for 69 while he ran out Sarfaraz Khan with a fantastic direct hit from mid-on.

“Woody has good skill with the new ball, he can nip that around and swing it,” Collingwood said.

“But on flat pitches, you need something, be it a leg-spinner who can turn it both ways, or extreme pace.

“They are usually things that break those partnerships and give you an edge. You want a point of difference on these types of pitches.

“I thought we pushed hard all day and we threw everything at them. We all realise that however many runs India get, we’re going to go out there pretty positively with the bat.

“If we have to chase runs on this pitch, it’s a very fast outfield and we’re good at chasing.”

While Root’s drop of Rohit was a sliding doors moment, England might also have snared both centurions had they reviewed lbw decisions given not out on the field, with Rohit on 87 and Jadeja on 93.

“It can be frustrating at times, but you have to crack on and try to create more chances,” Collingwood added.

Jadeja was shuffled up one place to number five to spare debutant Sarfaraz Khan a baptism of fire following India’s top-order wobble.

By the time Sarfaraz made his entrance, India were on a healthier 237 for four after a mammoth 204-run union between their two old stagers.

Sarfaraz poured salt into England’s wounds by taking down the tourists’ spinners and contributing 62 off 66 balls before being left high and dry by Jadeja, who turned down the single that would have brought up his 100.

Sarfaraz was well short of getting back in his crease and Jadeja reached his century from the next ball although his customary sword-swishing celebration was not as vigorous as usual.

“We had a little bit of miscommunication and that happens, it is no big deal,” Sarfaraz said, absolving his team-mate of any blame.

Rehan Ahmed remains in limbo in India although England are certain the teenage leg-spinner’s visa problem will be sorted out on Wednesday ahead of the third Test in Rajkot.

Ahmed’s single-entrance visa expired the moment he left for England’s mid-series break in the United Arab Emirates and the 19-year-old was initially red-flagged upon the team’s return to India on Monday.

England captain Ben Stokes and head coach Brendon McCullum waited with Ahmed at Hirasar Rajkot Airport as an emergency two-day visa was granted before the trio got to the team hotel separately to the group.

Ahmed trained with his team-mates at the Saurashtra Cricket Association Stadium on Tuesday morning and – while there is yet to be a resolution -, England seem convinced the issuing of a new visa is a formality.

“It’s not a concern,” Stokes said. “The guys who dealt with it at the airport did a really good job, given where we found ourselves. I’m confident that will be sorted.”

It is unclear whether the issue will hinder Ahmed’s chances as he tries to retain his England spot when the series, which is currently deadlocked at 1-1 after two gripping instalments, resumes on Thursday.

But it has occurred just a couple of weeks after off-spinner Shoaib Bashir was forced to miss the first Test in Hyderabad because of a paperwork snag as his Pakistani heritage led to extended checks.

Ahmed, like Bashir, was born in the UK and is of Pakistani heritage but this is a separate matter owing to an oversight on the part of the England and Wales Cricket Board.

Ahmed was already in possession of an Indian visa after being placed on standby for England’s 50-over World Cup campaign in October and November but it was not activated then because he was not required to travel.

England’s players travel on electronic visas which are not stamped in passports so the situation with Ahmed only came to light in Rajkot following England’s six-day breather in Abu Dhabi.

Ahmed – who is England’s youngest cricketer in all three formats – has taken eight wickets in the series at a respectable average of 36.37 so far and also contributed 70 runs, including a cameo 23 after being bumped up to number three in the batting order as the so-called ‘nighthawk’ in the second Test.

England’s spin options have already been hard hit by Jack Leach’s series-ending knee injury, leaving Ahmed, Bashir and Tom Hartley as the three specialist spinners, boasting six Test caps between them, with Joe Root’s part-time off-breaks becoming increasingly called upon.

“We were advised, on returning to India, that there was paperwork discrepancy with Rehan Ahmed’s visa,” an England team spokesperson said.

“The local authorities at Rajkot Airport were supportive, enabling Rehan entry on a temporary visa. The correct visa should be processed and issued in the coming days.

“He will continue to prepare with the rest of the squad ahead of the third Test.”

Joe Root described himself as “privileged, humbled and very excited” after being confirmed as England’s new Test captain on this day in 2017.

The then-26-year-old Yorkshire batter was handed the reins in the wake of Alastair Cook’s resignation after a 59-game tenure.

Root, who was averaging a little under 53 over 53 Tests at the time, was appointed ahead of home summer series against South Africa and the West Indies with an Ashes tour looming, on the recommendation of the selectors and the ECB’s director of England cricket Andrew Strauss.

With Ben Stokes as his vice-captain, vastly-experienced bowlers James Anderson and Stuart Broad at his disposal and coaches Trevor Bayliss and Paul Farbrace behind the scenes, he set out on his mission with some optimism.

Root said at the time: “We have a very good group of players, and I’m looking forward to leading them out in the summer – building on Alastair’s achievements and making the most of our talents in the years ahead.”

The new captain was appointed with England in a state of flux, having lost a match for the first time to Bangladesh and suffered at the hands of India as Cook’s reign, which had taken his side to within a win of the top of the Test rankings, drew to a close.

In all, Root led his country out onto the field in 64 Tests and collected 27 wins before he eventually stood down from the role in April 2022.

His tenure included two depressing 4-0 Ashes defeats Down Under either side of a 2-2 draw at home, but also more encouraging series wins over India and in Sri Lanka before the coronavirus pandemic intervened.

However, he called it a day in April 2022 after a decisive 10-wicket defeat in the West Indies, with the pressure of the job weighing heavily on his shoulders.

He said: “I have loved leading my country, but recently it’s hit home how much of a toll it has taken on me and the impact it has had on me away from the game.”

Brendon McCullum credits the inspirational leadership and “total conviction” of Ben Stokes for giving England a fighting chance of leaving India with a series win.

The score is tied at 1-1 after two gripping Tests in Hyderabad and Visakhapatnam, giving England a realistic shot at becoming the first side to win away on Indian soil since 2012.

Head coach McCullum will lead his side to Abu Dhabi on Wednesday for a short break before the contest resumes on February 15 and, while the players will be resting up with family rather than hitting the nets, he insists they will be ready to “drop the shoulder and go hard” when they return for the third Test in Rajkot.

A crucial part of England’s ability to do just that so far has been the contribution of three novice spinners in the form of Rehan Ahmed, Tom Hartley and Shoaib Bashir, who have defied their lack of experience to claim 26 wickets between them against players who have grown up against the turning ball.

And McCullum was glowing about Stokes’ ability to instil belief in the group.

“There are heaps of positives. Our spin bowling unit, albeit young and raw, have shown they’ve got what it takes,” he said.

“I put it down to the skipper. He has total conviction in his methods and is incredibly empathetic towards people.

“He spends time with them to ensure his messaging is really consistent, in his body language and behaviours, and he backs up what he says to them off the field with opportunities on the field. He is desperate to lead this team and he wants to take this team to whatever level he can take it.

“I am absolutely delighted in how they have performed with very little experience under their belt. You look around and you just see guys who look like they belong at international level.

“I think 1-1 is probably a fair reflection of where the contest is at the moment and, if the next three Tests are anything like these last two, it’s going to be one hell of a series.”

A return to form for Joe Root would be the biggest possible boost for England’s prospects, with the former skipper yet to make an impression with the bat.

A total of 52 runs from four innings represents a meagre return for a cornerstone player with a strong case for being the country’s best ever sub-continental batter.

The manner of his most recent dismissal, slogging wildly at the wily Ravichandran Ashwin, caused consternation, but McCullum harbours no such concerns.

“There are three Tests left, still an opportunity to score a whole s*** ton of runs,” he said with a smile.

“Joe’s a world-class player and as good as anyone England has ever seen.

“People will look to the dismissal, look at the method of his option, but he was trying to get the field back so he could milk them.

“It is the bravery you have to show at times and sometimes you get out doing it, that’s just the way the game rolls. There is no doubt from our point of view about that approach.”

England are not currently anticipating any changes to their Test squad for the second phase of the trip.

A virus has made an unwelcome intrusion on the camp but should be gone before the series resumes and concerns over Root’s injured little finger have eased.

There is no expectation of Harry Brook returning to the tour, with the team management giving him space to deal with the family matters that brought him home on the eve of the series.

The only uncertainty surrounds Jack Leach, who injured his knee in Hyderabad, missed the next game and has now been hit by illness.

“It is still pretty inflamed, but I don’t really know because he has been crook,” McCullum explained.

“His knee is pretty bad though and it was remarkable he got through what he did in the first Test match.”

England are locked at 1-1 after the first two games of their Test tour to India, with a pair of gripping matches in Hyderabad and Visakhapatnam.

Here, PA news agency looks at lessons learned as the teams take a week’s break before resuming battle in Rajkot.

Rookie spinners are learning fast

With Jack Leach injured, England sent out an almost-unbelievably raw spin attack in the second Test.

Rehan Ahmed, Tom Hartley and Shoaib Bashir had a grand total of three caps between them going into the game – compared to 96 for India’s lead spinner Ravichandra Ashwin.

But under Ben Stokes’ proactive captaincy the youngsters are over-delivering on expectations.

They have each shone in different passages and are a major reason why England have successfully kept India’s batters from getting away.

England took a big gamble by fast-tracking such inexperienced options in conditions where the slow bowlers take huge responsibility but their development is unfolding quickly in front of our eyes.

England need more from their Yorkshire engine room

Joe Root remains the best batter in the England team and nobody has epitomised the ambition of the ‘Bazball’ era better than Jonny Bairstow, but neither man has landed a blow on India so far.

In four innings on tour Root has 52 runs at 13 and Bairstow 98 at 24.50.

It is too early to call it anything other than a blip but if England are to prevail in the next three matches they will surely play an important part.

Root is the team’s best player of slow bowling and has an exceptional record on the subcontinent, while Bairstow has the ability to bully attacks into losing composure.

Both have big roles to play after a slow start.

India are missing Virat Kohli

Both teams are missing key members of their batting line-up for personal reasons, with Harry Brook back home in England and Virat Kohli withdrawing on the eve of the series.

India appear to be missing their former captain most obviously.

He would surely be a more attacking presence in the middle order and a psychological boost for his team-mates, not to mention an electrifying factor in the field.

As a spectacle, the series would benefit from his return, but it would give the away side a new batch of problems to deal with.

Anderson is essential

A lacklustre Ashes series left some wondering if time had finally caught up with the evergreen James Anderson.

Not for the first time, he has brushed the doubters aside with panache.

At the age of 41 his efforts on his return to the XI were exemplary.

He is in outstanding physical shape and bowling with skill, control and the occasional hint of magic.

No other bowler in the squad can combine economy and wicket threat quite like Anderson and, after missing the series opener, he is once again a must-pick.

Surgery has saved Stokes

Stokes finally opted to go under the knife in November in a bid to solve his long-standing left knee problems.

He had long resisted surgery, unsure how it would turn out, but it looks to have given him a new lease of life.

The skipper has already pulled off two brilliant pieces of fielding that would have been impossible before – a wonderful run out and a sensational running catch – and no longer seems in constant pain at the crease.

Even more importantly, he has been making a gentle return to bowling in practice and hopes to be back as a fully-fledged all-rounder by the summer.

West Indies fast-bowling sensation Shamar Joseph has jumped a massive 42 spots up the ICC Men’s Test rankings this week to sit joint 50th on the list.

Joseph, whose breathtaking performances in the recently-concluded two Test series against Australia earned him the Player of the series award, was instrumental in the regional side's historic second Test win against the World Champions. He took five wickets for 94 runs in the first encounter, which Australia won by 10 wickets and seven wickets for 68 runs in West Indies' famous eight-run win.

The 24-year-old Joseph and his pace partners all secured ranking upgrades, as Kemar Roach moved two places up to 17th and Alzarri Joseph inched four places up to 33rd. New Zealand’s Kane Williamson remains the Number one batsman ahead of England’s Joe Root and Australian Steve Smith, while the bowling list is headed by Indian Ravi Ashwin followed by South African Kagiso Rabada and Australia's captain Pat Cummins.

All-rounders Jason Holder, ranked at seventh, and 10th-ranked Kyle Mayers, the highest rated West Indies players on the all-rounders’ list, did not play against Australia in the recent series. India’s Ravi Jadeja heads that list.

Ollie Pope had his England team-mates in awe with a remarkable century in the first Test against India, leaving Joe Root scrambling for superlatives.

Root finally settled on “absolute masterclass” as he tried to sum up Pope’s unbeaten 148 on day three in Hyderabad, fine words from a man with more than 11,000 Test runs and 30 centuries under his belt.

England were 190 runs behind when they started their second innings, but Pope defied the perilous match situation, an unpredictable pitch and a world-class bowling attack to produce a career-best knock.

He overcame all three as he hit 17 fours over 208 deliveries and he carried the tourists to 316 for six – a handy lead of 126, in circumstances that could easily have produced an innings defeat.

That it all came in his first match back after six months sidelined by shoulder surgery, on a surface where the next best score from either team stands at 87, was even more impressive.

Should England somehow find a route to an unlikely victory over the next two days, it will surely go down as an all-time classic.

“I’m speechless really…it’s one of the best knocks I’ve ever seen,” said Root.

“I’ve seen a lot of cricket, I’ve played and batted out there in the middle with a lot of brilliant players and to witness that was was really special. There’s a lot of people in our dressing room that have seen and played a lot of cricket that are of the same mind as I am.

“The way that Popey played today, honestly, it’s an absolute masterclass in how to bat in these conditions as an overseas player. We all know he’s got an array of shots and can score all round the wicket, but to have the self-belief and desire to put a score together for the team and get us to where we are now was outstanding.

“The maturity he showed, the smarts, the way he manoeuvred the field…it was unbelievable. You sit here very emotional being part of it, but I’m sure I’ll sit back and still be impressed and wowed by the way he’s played.”

Root has long been England’s standard-bearer in Asia, where he has scored five centuries, including doubles in Galle and Chennai, but suggested he would happily pass the torch to Pope.

“I’m not any more, I think that’s the benchmark,” he said.

“I might have scored a few runs in the sub-continent but not on a surface like that, against an attack like that.

“I didn’t even mind when he ‘big dogged’ me and said, ‘Can you do the press tonight?’ He spoke this morning in front of the group and and he’s grasped the moment, taken responsibility and backed it up in his actions. That’s what you want from leaders within the dressing room.

“As an old-timer in this team, it’s great to see these young lads coming in, really putting their stamp on things and leading from the front.”

England will want to add plenty more runs on day four to flip the pressure back on their opponents and will be hampered in the fourth innings by an injury to lead spinner Jack Leach.

It is understood he is suffering from pain and swelling, but Root is full of positivity about the way his side have taken the fight to hosts who have lost just three times in their last 46 games at home.

“Regardless of what happens for the rest of the game, I think we’ve laid down some good markers and shown that we have got the tools and skills to really compete in these conditions,” he said.

“Dream the dream. We’ll go to bed and think of what could be tomorrow, then throw everything at the day.”

Ollie Pope led the resistance with a brilliant, battling century as England fought hard to keep the first Test against India alive in Hyderabad.

Faced with the unenviable task of overturning a 190-run first-innings deficit, the vice-captain dug deep to make an unbeaten 148 as his side found their way to 316 for six at stumps on day three.

While the tourists still have plenty of work ahead of them to turn the pressure fully back on India, they showed admirable steel to build a lead of 126 with four wickets still in hand.

Pope’s fifth Test hundred was the mainstay, marking a welcome return after six months out following surgery on a dislocated shoulder.

The Surrey batter had not played since the second Ashes Test last summer and, without any warm-up games to find his feet, looked short of rhythm when he was dismissed for just one on the first day.

He started sketchily again, aiming an errant reverse sweep at his second ball as he searched for scoring shots, but grew in stature as he put together an innings of real substance.

Having bounded along to his half-century in just 54 deliveries, he took 100 more to reach three figures.

The longer Pope took, the more controlled he appeared, and this was a knock that reinvigorated a contest that seemed destined to slip away from England in a hurry.

The scoreboard looked ominous when skipper Ben Stokes fell at 163 for five, India still 27 ahead, but Pope and Ben Foakes, with 34, gritted their teeth in a partnership worth 112.

India began the day on 421 for seven and were mopped up efficiently for the addition of just 15 runs.

Joe Root, continuing his unexpected emergence as his side’s most threatening bowler, snapped up two in two balls, Ravindra Jadeja lbw for 87 and Jasprit Bumrah for a golden duck. Rehan Ahmed provided the finishing touch when he zipped one low through Axar Patel.

If India losing three wickets without a run caused jitters in the away dressing room they were not evident in a dashing opening stand of 45 between Zak Crawley and Ben Duckett.

Crawley reverse swept with authority and lifted Patel down the ground for six, but was gone for 31 before the end of the 10th over, nicking Ravichandran Ashwin to slip.

Pope’s presence was not immediately reassuring, hitting fresh air almost immediately as he attempted to get off the mark with a reverse sweep of his own, but Duckett’s arsenal of sweeps proved a reliable source of runs.

England took lunch at 89 for one and were up to 113 when a masterful spell of reverse swing from Bumrah cut their fightback down.

He should have had Duckett lbw but saw his appeal wrongly shrugged away by the on-field umpire and his captain.

Undeterred he came again, shaping the ball through the air, through the gap that Duckett’s lavish drive left and sent his off stump flying for 47.

Root followed after just six balls, trapped in front by another that tailed in and thudded his front pad. On a pitch that had rendered the pace bowlers an afterthought for so long, it was an exceptional intervention from Bumrah.

It was credit to Pope that he not only survived it but also kept his score moving, picking off boundaries and topping them up with hard running between the wickets.

He needed a partner to help but lost Jonny Bairstow for 10, offering no shot to Jadeja’s arm ball, and then saw Ashwin snake one past Stokes’ outside edge and into the top of off.

England were still 18 behind at the start of the evening session but Pope and Foakes knuckled down to turn that into a workable lead.

Foakes watched the ball on to his bat and took minimal risks, while Pope showed real poise as he built his score with a new sense of calm.

By now the reverse sweep that had left him looking vulnerable earlier was coming out of the middle of the bat and providing a vital supply of boundaries.

He gradually became more inventive as he sought gaps in the field, leaving India scratching their heads as they tried to pin him down.

He scrambled three off Jadeja to reach a hard-won hundred, his first in the second innings and third overseas, and marked it in under-stated fashion.

Foakes’ stay was ended by a grubber from Patel, who blotted his copy book by dropping Pope on 110.

That allowed Pope to walk off unbeaten at the close with Ahmed at his side, dreaming of further heroics on day four.

England were fighting to keep the first Test alive after a double strike from Jasprit Bumrah tightened India’s hold on day three in Hyderabad.

Faced with the unenviable task of overturning a 190-run first-innings deficit, the tourists reached 172 for five at tea, with Ollie Pope unbeaten on 67.

Bumrah took the lead with a magical spell of pace bowling on a pitch that has largely rendered the seamers as an afterthought, removing the fluent Ben Duckett and key man Joe Root.

Pairing speed through the air with devilish reverse swing he sent Duckett’s off-stump flying for 47 and then trapped Root lbw for just two to reassert India’s strong position.

England had enjoyed a positive start to the day, taking three quick wickets in the morning session to bowl India out before reaching a promising 113 for one at a lively scoring rate.

Bumrah’s classy intervention knocked the stuffing from their burgeoning counter-attack and when captain Ben Stokes was beautifully bowled by Ravichandran Ashwin late in the afternoon session the net closed further still.

Play began with India on 421 for seven, adding another 15 before losing their remaining wickets without scoring.

Root snapped up two in two balls, Ravindra Jadeja lbw for 87 and Bumrah castled for a golden duck. Rehan Ahmed provided the finishing touch, zipping one low through Axar Patel and ushering the game along to its decisive moment.

Zak Crawley and Duckett made a typically positive start, zoning out the precarious match situation to clear 45 from the deficit despite considerable scoreboard pressure.

After a couple of polite new-ball overs from Bumrah it was spin at both ends and the initial signs were good.

Crawley sent a couple of reverse sweeps to the boundary boards before trying something even more expansive, moving his feet to the pitch and lifting Patel for six down the ground.

He hurried along to 31 in 33 balls but his fun was shut down in the 10th over, Ashwin clipping the outside edge with a precise delivery that nestled in Rohit Sharma’s hands.

Pope started sketchily, busy but uncertain in his movements, while Duckett was poised. Trusting his arsenal of sweeps and reverses he guided the score to 89 for one at lunch, with the hosts’ lead just into three figures.

England continued chipping away until Bumrah returned to the fray early in the afternoon. He should have had Duckett lbw for 39 but saw his appeal shrugged away by the on-field umpire and his captain, who declined to call for DRS.

Undeterred he came again, shaping the ball through the air, through the gap that Duckett’s lavish drive left and violently into the off stump.

Root was next to succumb, beaten on the crease after just six balls and trapped in front. He sent the decision upstairs but found no reprieve.

Pope was still making the odd mistake but he rode his luck and continued scoring briskly as he brought up his first half-century in India at nearly a run-a-ball.

England still needed a big partnership and were unable to find one as the spinners found their rhythm.

Jonny Bairstow was bowled for 10 offering no stroke to Jadeja, mis-reading one that skidded on with the arm, and Stokes saw Ashwin clip the top of off with a ball that snaked past his outside edge.

Zak Crawley was an early casualty as England set about the mammoth task of overturning India’s 190-run lead on day three of the first Test in Hyderabad.

Crawley hurried along to 31 from 33 balls but was first man down when he nicked Ravichandran Ashwin to first slip in the 10th over of England’s second innings.

The tourists took lunch on 89 for one, still 101 behind, with Ben Duckett settling well on 38no.

They started the day by taking the last three Indian wickets for 15 runs as they finished 436 all out in the morning session, Joe Root dismissing Ravindra Jadeja and Jasprit Bumrah with successive deliveries to collect four for 79.

Rehan Ahmed closed the innings when he spun one low through Axar Patel, ushering the game along to a crucial phase as England returned to the crease.

Having been bowled out for 246 inside 65 overs on day one, they knew they would need to do considerably more on a wearing pitch to have a chance of an unlikely success.

Crawley and Duckett made a typically positive start, clearing 45 from the deficit in the face of considerable scoreboard pressure. After two polite overs from Bumrah, it was spin at both ends and the initial signs were good.

Crawley sent a couple of reverse sweeps to the boundary boards before trying something even more expansive, moving his feet to the pitch and lifting Patel for six down the ground. It was a bold beginning but it ended all too quickly, Ashwin clipping the outside edge with a precise delivery that nestled in Rohit Sharma’s hands.

Ollie Pope started sketchily, busy but uncertain in his movements, but Duckett was poised. Trusting his arsenal of sweeps he hit five boundaries as he smothered the turning ball with some style.

Joe Root struck in the first over of the day and Tom Hartley claimed a maiden international wicket but England were unable hold India down on the second morning of the first Test.

The home side reached lunch just 24 behind on 222 for three, adding 103 for two in the opening session at Hyderabad’s Ranjiv Gandhi Stadium.

KL Rahul’s 55no and Shreyas Iyer’s 34no left India a healthy position as they looked to build a match-winning lead, but England showed fight in an even first hour.

Concerningly, first-choice spinner Jack Leach managed only two overs in the session and appeared to be suffering from a stiff back.

Explosive opener Yashavi Jaiswal gave the tourists a major headache on Thursday evening with a swashbuckling start to the innings but he added just four to his overnight score to fall for 80.

Ben Stokes had pondered the idea of opening the bowling with Root on the eve of the series, fancying his off-breaks to cause problems for the left-hander, but ultimately favoured his specialist spinners on day one.

Reversing that decision he tossed Root the ball at the start of play and saw him pick up Jaiswal with his fourth delivery, reaching for a caught and bowled off a thick inside edge.

Things almost got even better when Root had new man Rahul nicking two balls later on nought, but Ben Foakes was not able to pull off what would have been an excellent catch behind the stumps. Rahul made the most of it, hitting six fours in his 72-ball half-century, while Iyer also got a strong start.

Debutant Hartley was looking to bounce back from a difficult start to life as a Test bowler, Jaiswal having smashed his first ball for six in a costly maiden spell, but was thrust straight back into the action by Stokes.

Having shipped 63 runs from nine wicketless overs on day one he was much improved at his second attempt, sending down 11 overs for 34. Even more importantly, he opened his account with the scalp of Shubman Gill.

Gill never really got going in his 23 and flicked Hartley off his leg stump and straight to Ben Duckett at midwicket. The left-armer sprinted away in a mix of celebration and relief. England used one short spell from Mark Wood but with Leach seemingly unable to take a full load, lacked an extra option.

England lost three wickets in quick succession against India’s spinners after the tourists enjoyed a bright start to the first Test in Hyderabad.

At lunch the tourists were 108 for three, with Yorkshire duo Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow in the midst of a repair job following India’s triple breakthrough.

A bullish opening stand of 55 between Zak Crawley and Ben Duckett gave England the upper hand for the first 45 minutes, but once the seamers gave way to the slow bowlers it was a different story.

India picked up three wickets for five runs in the space of 21 balls, Ravichandran Ashwin picking off both set batters and Ravindra Jadeja making short work of an uncomfortable Ollie Pope.

The game was moving away from England quickly, as it has many times before in this part of the world, but they found stability in their experienced middle-order pair.

Root survived an lbw scare off his second ball to reach 18no and Bairstow, resuming life as a specialist number five after ceding the wicketkeeping gloves to Ben Foakes, found a nice flow for 32no.

With a side containing a solitary seam option and four spinners, England captain Ben Stokes would have been mightily relieved to win the toss and surprised nobody by choosing to bat.

The hosts devoted the first eight overs to pace but despite a hint of swing for Mohammed Siraj and Jasprit Bumrah, Crawley and Duckett took their chance to get on top with a handful of boundaries.

Crawley produced a pair of sweet on-drives off, with Duckett riding the odd play-and-miss as he flashed eagerly through the off-side.

At 41 for nought, India skipper Rohit Sharma had seen enough and sent for spin. Almost instantly, things began to happen. Duckett swept a couple of fours before he became the first wicket of the series, pushing forward with a straight bat and falling to a tight lbw as Ashwin squeezed one through.

Pope, playing his first innings since the second Ashes Test in June, followed close behind. He lasted 11 uncomfortable deliveries before nicking Jadeja tamely to slip for one. There was a big shout against the newly arrived Root moments later, but after a long delay DRS appeared to show a thin edge before impact with the pad.

England’s relief lasted just a matter of seconds with Crawley driving Ashwin straight to mid-off, where Siraj scooped a low catch. At 58 for three, it was a tense time but Bairstow’s arrival at his former IPL home ground shifted the tone.

Tom Hartley will make his Test debut as one of three spinners as England took a major selection gamble for their series opener against India in Hyderabad.

Hartley, the Lancashire left-armer, joins the established Jack Leach and teenage leg-spinner Rehan Ahmed in an attack that suggests the tourists expect lavish turn.

Mark Wood has been picked as the only seam bowler in the side, meaning England’s record wicket-taker James Anderson sits out.

With Wood operating best in short, rapid bursts, England are ready to embrace an entirely different rhythm of cricket. Joe Root’s off-breaks are also likely to feature heavily and Stokes has even suggested he could open the bowling with the part-timer.

Ben Foakes returns as wicketkeeper, with Jonny Bairstow reverting to a specialist batting role at number five.

Joe Root has followed the lead of England Test captain Ben Stokes by skipping next year’s Indian Premier League.

It was confirmed on Wednesday that Stokes would not appear for Chennai Super Kings in the 2024 edition of the IPL, with the 32-year-old citing the need to manage his fitness and workload.

Root has now joined his red-ball skipper in sitting out the Twenty20 tournament, which will run from March until the end of May.

Rajasthan Royals secured the services of Root at the 2023 mini-auction and he featured three times for the franchise earlier this year, but will not join up with the group that contains England white-ball captain Jos Buttler next year.

Royals director of cricket Kumar Sangakkara said: “During our retention conversations, Joe informed us of his decision to not take part in IPL 2024.

“Even in a short span of time, Joe was able to create such a positive impact on the franchise and the players around him.

“His energy around the group and the experience he brought to the Royals will be missed. We respect his decision totally and wish him success in everything he does.”

Root is set for a key role in England’s five-match Test series away to India, which starts on January 25.

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