The clash between unbeaten India and hosts South Africa lived up to its billing in the first semi-final of the ICC U19 Men’s Cricket World Cup 2024.

In a thrilling contest that went down to the wire, India secured a hard-fought victory, thanks to outstanding half-centuries from Uday Saharan and Sachin Dhas. 

Saharan's team will now have the chance to defend their title in the final on Sunday, 11 February.

India now await the winner of the second semi-final match between Australia and Pakistan on Thursday to see who they will face in the title clash.

India beat South Africa by 2 wickets in Benoni

South Africa 244/7 (50) vs India 248/8 (48.5)

After losing four tosses in the first four games, Uday Saharan got it right for the second in a row and chose to field first. This was the first time that India bowled first in the tournament, having batted in each of their five victories so far.

Once again displaying his customary aggression in the tournament, South Africa opener Steve Stolk took charge early on, hitting two fours in the first three overs. He continued his onslaught with a maximum off Raj Limbani in the fifth but it was the Indian pacer who had the last laugh as Stolk's attempted cut resulted in an edge straight into the hands of the wicketkeeper.

Lhuan-dre Pretorius kept the foot on the pedal thereafter, including a six and a four against Naman Tiwari in the 8th over. At the other end though, Limbani was on the money and accounted for the wicket of David Teeger for a duck, rattling the stumps with a peach of an inswinger.

Undeterred by the loss of two wickets, Pretorius continued playing attacking shots, and by the end of the Powerplay, South Africa were going close to a run-a-ball.

Saharan decided to introduce his spinners into play, effectively curbing South Africa's scoring – only five boundaries were scored in the span of overs 11 to 30.

However, the partnership between Pretorius and Richard Seletswane ensured a steady flow of runs, with Pretorius reaching his half-century off 59 balls.

With the run-rate at less than four, the mounting pressure got to Pretorius, who tried to swat Musheer Khan over mid-wicket, but Murugan Abhishek showed brilliant reflexes to hang on to a stunning catch.

The Proteas saw an uptick in boundaries when Seletswane and Oliver Whitehead combined for a 45-run partnership. Just as the partnership started to look dangerous, Musheer struck with the final ball of his spell, dismissing Whitehead.

South Africa’s decision to delay the entry of the dangerous Dewan Marais proved unsuccessful as he holed out to Saumy Pandey inches inside the boundary for just 3.

Between the two wickets, Seletswane brought up a patient half-century but having taken 90 balls to get to the milestone, the youngster fell trying to make up for the scoring rate.

Having hit Limbani for two fours in the 45th over, Seletswane tried to take the attack to Naman Tiwari in the next, but was undone by a good catch by Priyanshu Moliya running in from the deep.

Juan James too departed after a solid 19-ball 24-run cameo, leaving South Africa at 221/7 with two overs to go.

Tristan Luus gave the innings some much-needed impetus in the final two overs, unleashing two sixes and a four to finish with an unbeaten 23 off 12 balls. 

As a result, South Africa set India a target of 245. This was the first time a team had got past the 200-run mark against India in the tournament so far.

In the chase, South Africa started brilliantly, courtesy Kwena Maphaka's breakthrough on the first ball of the innings. Adarsh Singh found himself helpless against a sharp bouncer, awkwardly prodding it to the keeper.

The short ball proved to be India's downfall once more as Tristan Luus' accurately-directed bouncer outsmarted the dangerous Musheer Khan, sparking massive celebrations in the South African camp following the dismissal of the leading run-scorer in the tournament.

India had to be patient, waiting until the seventh over for their first boundary, which came in the form of a maximum from Arshin Kulkarni off Maphaka. Unfortunately, that solitary moment of joy for India was short-lived, as their difficulties continued to mount with Arshin falling victim to Luus in the final over of the Powerplay.

India's situation worsened when Moliya, who had managed to strike a boundary off the first ball of Luus' over, departed while attempting a loose drive.

Facing a daunting situation at 32/4, captain Saharan and Sachin Dhas orchestrated a remarkable rescue mission with an impressive partnership. With runs drying up, the pair mixed caution with aggression to keep the scoreboard ticking.

Particularly targeting the bowling of Riley Norton, Dhas showcased his prowess by striking three boundaries in a single over, reclaiming some control for India. While Saharan held firm at one end, Dhas assumed the role of the aggressor, racing to a half-century off 47 balls to keep the required run rate under 6.

Saharan quickly found his rhythm with a splendid boundary off James, not only marking the 100-run partnership for the fifth wicket but also propelling himself past Musheer Khan to claim the top spot on the tournament run-scoring charts.

The partnership between the two was a masterclass in innings building and chasing, as they milked singles relentlessly while putting the poor deliveries away for boundaries. 

The skipper too got in on the act, reaching his fifty off 88 balls with a boundary as India inched closer to victory.

Just as the required run rate got to a run-a-ball, Dhas and Saharan dispatched James for a six and four respectively to calm the nerves in the Indian camp.

But there was another twist as South Africa hit back when Maphaka was reintroduced into the attack. He got the better of Dhas with a well-disguised slower ball, the batter falling agonisingly short of a century on 96. 

The wicket brought about a lull in scoring, and the mounting pressure became palpable. Aravelly Avanish displayed nerves of steel by striking a crucial boundary off Norton on the final ball of the 46th over.

Maphaka bowled the 47th over and made a big difference off the last ball of the spell with the wicket of Avanish, with Norton taking a good catch in the deep. Two balls later, the game turned on its head again when Abhishek Murugan fell victim to poor running, being caught short of his crease by a direct hit from Marais.

The two wickets put the pressure back on India but a six from an unlikely source – Raj Limbani – shifted the equation, bringing it down to nine runs required off the last two overs.

Saharan put to rest any hopes of a South African comeback with four off the first ball of the penultimate over. In another twist to the game, Saharan was run out trying to scramble for the winning run. 

However, Limbani came in clutch again and struck a four off the final ball of the over to continue their unbeaten run and book their berth in the final.

The Player of the Match, India captain Uday Saharan, shared insights in the post-match presentation after bailing the team out of early trouble.

“I just believed in myself [after coming out to bat]. I knew it was a matter of one partnership and the game would be ours. I just kept telling myself repeatedly that I needed to bat till the end.” 

 

SAT20 side Paarl Royals released a statement on their website on Tuesday confirming a report that West Indies left-arm spinner Fabian Allen was a victim of a robbery in Johannesburg during the ongoing tournament.

In what Paarl Royals described as an "isolated incident," Allen was robbed of his personal belongings, including a luxury wrist watch, while he was returning to the team hotel with a few other Royals players on January 25, a day after they played the Joburg Super Kings.

However, it could not be confirmed if Allen or Royals reported the issue to the police.

The Royals statement did not go into detail, but said Allen was "safe," and was preparing for the Eliminator against Super Kings on Wednesday in Cape Town.

"The franchise works closely with the league to ensure the safety and well-being of its players and staff, while also allowing them to have free personal time as well," the statement said.

"Following the incident, the player was provided with the necessary support by the franchise and the league, and [he] was keen to continue his participation at the SA20, and has since been available for selection (twice also featuring in the playing XI for the Royals)."

Royals ended third after the round-robin stage of the SA20 this season, with Allen having played eight out of their ten games.

However, he bowled only in four innings, having taken two wickets at 35.50 across the eight overs he has delivered. Allen wasn't selected to play in Royals' final two matches before the playoffs.

 

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.”

West Indies suffered a white-wash in the three-match One-Day International (ODI) series against Australia, after another woeful batting performance saw the Caribbean side slump to an eight-wicket thrashing at Manuka Oval on Monday.

Opener Alick Athanaze with a 60-ball 32, was the only batsman to offer any real resistance as West Indies were embarrassingly bowled out for 86 in 24.1 overs, their fifth lowest ODI score. Only Keacy Carty (12) and Roston Chase (10) were the other double figure scores in the dismal innings.

Still, Australia, playing their 1,000th ODI, the second nation to do so after India, were almost flawless following comprehensive victories in Melbourne and Sydney.

Xavier Bartlett, like he did in the first contest, again starred with the ball, as he ended with four wickets for 21 runs, after which openers Josh Inglish and Jake Fraser-McGurk raced toward the low target by smashing 67 runs within five overs, and laid the foundation for the hosts to complete their eight-wicket victory with 43.1 overs to spare in what was the shortest men's ODI ever played in Australia.

The match lasted just 31 overs and was completed in three hours, including the innings break.

Australia 87 for 2 (Fraser-McGurk 41, Inglis 35*) beat West Indies 86 (Bartlett 4-21) by eight wickets

Inglis raced to 22 off seven deliveries, as he played gorgeous orthodox shots, but was quickly overtaken by Fraser-McGurk, who muscled three sixes in four balls off seamer Matthew Forde.

Fraser-McGurk was on track for a rapid half-century, but holed out to mid-on to end his 18-ball 41 and dashed Australia's hopes for a 10-wicket win.

Aaron Hardie made just two before Australia passed the target after 6.5 overs.

Earlier, Steven Smith's decision to bowl first was aided by a shoddy West Indies effort with a number of batters dismissed in tame fashion.

Following his stunning four-wicket debut at the MCG, Bartlett was immediately on the money with the new ball, as he had opener Kjorn Ottley trapped in front in his second over.

Athanaze and Carty held firm as West Indies' fortunes momentarily seemed to turn, and they eyed a decent total on the traditionally batting-friendly Manuka Oval surface.

West Indies avoided the early collapses that marred their opening two games, but the introduction of Lance Morris in the 11th over soon left them in familiar woe.

Morris had his first international wicket when Carty was brilliantly caught by a flying Marnus Labuschagne at backward point. Captain Shai Hope unsuccessfully reviewed a leg-before-wicket decision off Sean Abbott in the next over, before Morris clean bowled debutant Teddy Bishop with a searing full delivery that rattled the stumps.

Athanaze held the innings together until he threw away his wicket with a rash sweep stroke against leg-spinner Adam Zampa that was caught at deep backward square.

Smith went on the attack and brought back Bartlett, who on his first delivery nicked off Romario Shepherd.

West Indies' woeful performance was summed up with a comical run out of Forde, who bickered with batting partner Roston Chase on his way off, as their 27-year ODI drought against Australia in Australia continues.

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.

Sir Alastair Cook stood down from his role as England Test captain on this day in 2017.

Cook’s 59 Tests in charge made him the nation’s longest-serving skipper, until he was overtaken by his successor Joe Root, with his spell at the helm beginning in 2013.

Throughout that period Cook won eight of his 17 series in charge, including a 2-1 win in India in 2012 – their first series victory there since 1985 – as well as a win in South Africa in 2015-16.

Cook also led the team to two home triumphs in the Ashes, in 2013 and 2015, with a Test record that totalled 24 wins and 22 defeats.

The opener cited a loss of energy as the reasoning behind his resignation, concluding that the team would benefit from new leadership and deciding to devote his full focus to his batting.

Cook, whose last series as captain was a 4-0 defeat to India, said: “It’s been a huge honour to be England captain and to lead the Test team over the past five years.

“Stepping down has been an incredibly hard decision but I know this is the correct decision for me and at the right time for the team. We’ve kind of stagnated if we are being brutally honest.

“There is a lot of work to be done and I felt I just didn’t have that energy to do it. That’s part and the parcel of being captain, you are responsible.”

Cook remained part of the squad under new captain Root until 2018, when he announced his retirement from international cricket after 12 years, signing off with a century against India in his final innings in his 161st Test.

Cook, who was the recipient of a knighthood in the Queen’s New Year Honours in 2019, retired from cricket last October.

West Indies cricketer Fabian Allen, currently representing the Paarl Royals franchise in the SA20 league, encountered a harrowing experience as he was robbed at gunpoint in Johannesburg.

The 28-year-old Jamaican all-rounder fell victim to the armed robbery outside the team hotel, near the renowned Sandton Sun Hotel, according to reports emerging from South Africa.

During the incident, the assailants brandished a firearm, confronting Allen and making off with his phone, personal belongings, and a bag. The shocking event raises concerns about the safety of players participating in the league, potentially impacting its image.

Sources affiliated with the Paarl Royals team, SA20, and Cricket West Indies (CWI) have confirmed the incident.

Reports said West Indies head coach Andre Coley has been in touch with Allen and has reported that the player was not harmed.

Cricket South Africa (CSA), Cricket West Indies (CWI), and the SA20 league have all confirmed the incident, which has raised additional concerns over player safety in South Africa.

Though physically unharmed, reports suggest that Allen is understandably shaken by the ordeal.

 

West Indies pacer Shamar Joseph was featured as the International Cricket Council (ICC) today revealed the shortlists of nominees for the ICC Men’s and Women’s Player of the Month awards for January 2024.

The ICC Men’s Player of the Month shortlist includes the architects of two memorable Test victories away from home, plus a prolific pacer who celebrated another significant milestone in the longest format.

The orchestrator for what was perhaps one of the most dramatic Test victories in recent memory, Joseph’s month will be long remembered for his bowling efforts in the second innings of the second Test v Australia in Brisbane.

Defending a modest target of 216 for victory, Joseph unleashed a remarkable spell of fast bowling, taking seven for 68 to cue wild celebrations.

This, in addition to taking the wicket of Steve Smith with his first ball in international cricket in a five-wicket-haul in Adelaide, saw him named Player of the Series and nominated for ICC Men’s Player of the Month for the very first time.

Joseph will be vying for the award against Australian quick Josh Hazlewood and English batsman Ollie Pope.

The Australian pacer joined an elite club in January after taking his 250th wicket in the longest format. Hazlewood played three Tests during the month, starting in fine fashion with four wickets in the second innings of their third matchup against Pakistan, to bowl the tourists out cheaply and contribute to an eight-wicket win in Sydney. The 33-year-old followed up by taking nine wickets in the first Test against West Indies and five in the second Test in Brisbane, clocking up 19 wickets at a sensational average of 11.63.

Facing a 190-run deficit in the first India v England Test in Hyderabad, Pope came to the crease at 45 for one. The 26-year-old then dug in and produced a batting masterclass to overturn the deficit, and set a challenging total which India fell short of. A blend of innovative stroke play and resilient defence characterised Pope’s innings in which he scored 196 in 278 balls, including 21 boundaries. The innings propelled England to a score of 420 before they bowled India out to secure a record-breaking victory.

The nominees for the Women’s award are Australia’s Alyssa Healy and Beth Mooney as well as Ireland’s Amy Hunter.

The three nominees for either category are shortlisted based on performances from the first to the last day of each calendar month.

The shortlist is then voted on by the independent ICC Voting Academy* and fans around the world. The ICC Voting Academy comprises prominent members of the cricket fraternity including well-known journalists, former players, broadcasters and members of the ICC Hall of Fame.

The Voting Academy submit their votes by email and hold a 90 per cent share of the vote.

Fans registered with the ICC can vote via the ICC website, accounting for the remaining 10 per cent. Winners are announced every second Monday of the month on ICC’s digital channels. 

 

The 2024 Republic Bank Caribbean Premier League will take place from 28 August to the 6 October with final will once again taking place in Guyana with the National Stadium in Providence hosting the conclusion of the Men’s event for the third year.

The tournament plans to have matches in Antigua & Barbuda, Barbados, Guyana, St Kitts & Nevis, Saint Lucia and Trinidad & Tobago, Once again, the window for the CPL will not clash with West Indies fixtures so the best Caribbean talent will be on show at the Biggest Party in Sport.

Pete Russell, Republic Bank CPL’s CEO, said: “We are very pleased that this window allows the CPL to give the best players from the Caribbean the opportunity to showcase their talents. The window also allows CPL franchises to sign the best available international players after successful discussions with other leagues to avoid the same clashes we had in 2023. As always,we would like to thank Cricket West Indies for their help and support in finding a window that works so well for all stakeholders.”

Johnny Grave, Cricket West Indies CEO, said: "We are pleased to have once again worked closely with the CPL to strategically prioritize this window so that all West Indian cricketers can participate in the full CPL tournament once again. With the 2024 CPL taking place just two months after hosting the ICC Men's T20 World Cup in the region, it provides another fantastic opportunity for our fans to enjoy some world class exciting T20 cricket and for our regional governments to benefit from more cricket generated economic activity.”

 

India head coach Rahul Dravid has praised England’s ‘Bazball’ approach, even if the word itself leaves him cold.

Dravid saw his side square the five-match series 1-1 with a 106-run victory in Visakhapatnam, with Jasprit Bumrah and Ravichandran Ashwin taking three wickets each to dent England’s reputation as unstoppable chasers.

Dravid was known as ‘the Wall’ during his playing days, a nod to his watertight technique, but he has been impressed by the way the tourists have utilised their attacking methods on turning pitches.

“I think they’re playing very well. Whether you call it ‘Bazball’ or whatever you want to call it, it’s not,” he said.

“I know it’s just a term, and I’m not sure how happy they are about it, but they are playing really good cricket. It’s not like wild slogging, they are actually showing some very good skills.

“Some of the shots they are playing require a lot of ability. You can’t just come here and execute those things by saying ‘I want to play attackingly’. I think there’s more to it than just attacking cricket.

“I have seen at times they know when to pull back and they know when to attack. They’re playing slightly differently, no doubt about it. They know how to find that balance and we know we’re up against a challenge that we’re looking forward to.”

Bumrah won a deserved player-of-the-match award for his match figures of nine for 91, including a game-defining spell of vicious reverse swing in the first innings.

The image of him sending two of Ollie Pope’s stumps flying in opposite directions encapsulated his brilliance in a single frame.

“As a youngster that was the first delivery I learned in tennis-ball cricket,” Bumrah recalled.

“I used to feel that was the only way to take wickets. I look to solve the problem, every wicket is different and I have to use what I have in my armoury.”

Ben Stokes felt England were let down by technology at a crucial moment as they slipped to a series-levelling defeat against India but refused to blame the result on “if, buts and maybes”.

The tourists were bowled out for 292 on day four of the second Test in Visakhapatnam, going down by 106 runs as they fell well short of a history-making chase.

Opener Zak Crawley looked the man most likely to do something special and his dismissal for 73 just before lunch turned the game decisively in India’s favour.

Kuldeep Yadav’s lbw shout was initially turned down by experienced umpire Marais Erasmus, who judged the ball to missing leg stump, but DRS surprisingly ruled in the bowler’s favour when ball-tracking suggested it was going on to hit.

England lost Jonny Bairstow in the next over and never quite recovered, with Stokes making it clear he felt Crawley was the victim of a HawkEye glitch.

“My personal opinion is that the technology has gone wrong on this occasion. That’s where I stand on it,” the England captain said when questioned about the decision.

“Technology in the game is obviously there and everyone has an understanding of the reasons it can never be 100 per cent. That’s why we have the ‘umpire’s call’, that’s why it’s in place.

“So when it’s not 100 per cent, I don’t think it’s unfair for someone to say ‘I think the technology has got it wrong’. I will say that, but in a game full of ifs, buts and maybes I am not going to say that’s the reason why we haven’t got the result we wanted.

“You can’t really do much with things that have been and gone. You can’t really overturn a decision that has been made.”

England’s score was the second highest fourth-innings total any overseas team have scored in Indian conditions, but the scale of their target was simply too great to overcome without a big century to build around.

Ollie Pope, Ben Foakes and Tom Hartley were all battling against illness that emerged in the camp overnight, along with the injured Jack Leach at the team hotel, leaving Stokes proud of the fight his side put up.

“There’s a bit of a virus going round, a couple of guys woke up not feeling great,” he said.

“It’s not ideal, you want everyone to be feeling great but I’m proud that the guys who were feeling under the weather didn’t shy away and gave it their best.

“We had full belief in ourselves that we could chase that down. Taking on challenges like that is what we are about. In moments like this, when you have scoreboard pressure, that is when we get the best out of ourselves as individuals. Unfortunately, this time we didn’t get on the right side of the result.”

A quick scan of their second-innings boundary count – 42 fours and four sixes – tells the story of how England went about their business in a match that ended with four full sessions unused.

It was the kind of aggressive display which has become par for the course under Stokes’ leadership and even dismissals like Joe Root’s for 16, an agricultural heave from the side’s most elegant player, do not give Stokes pause for thought.

“I think our approach is what we’re known for, the way in which we play,” he said.

“Regardless of the situation, we want to stay very true to ourselves. I was happy with the way we went about that chase. That’s exactly how we play cricket. It won’t always work but a loss is a loss; you don’t get any points losing by five and you don’t get less for losing by 100.”

England will travel onwards to Abu Dhabi for a break on Wednesday, before returning to India for the third Test in Rajkot on February 15.

England ran out of miracles as their hopes of making history ended in a thumping 106-run defeat in the second Test against India.

The odds were stacked against the tourists from the start but they pitched up on day four in Visakhapatnam with real belief that they could do the unthinkable by chasing 399 – a target no England side has ever reached before and more than any side has ever made batting last on Indian soil.

Instead, their knack of turning cricketing logic on its head deserted them and they were knocked over for 292 to level the five-match series at 1-1.

They decisive moment came just before lunch, when top-scorer Zak Crawley (73) and fourth-innings dangerman Jonny Bairstow both fell lbw in the space of five deliveries. That turned an already dominant position into a bulletproof one for India, leaving England captain Ben Stokes as their last roadblock to victory.

He has rescued plenty of lost causes over the years but was only just getting started when he was brilliantly run out by a side-on direct hit from Shreyas Iyer. Stokes was slow off the mark and paid for his hesitation, but it still needed a perfect throw from the fielder.

Stokes was not alone in playing a part in his own downfall, with Joe Root ending a brief and chaotic innings with an unusually ugly shot.

England went down fighting but an India side with the two highest scores of the match, Yashavi Jaiswal (209) and Shubman Gill (104), and the best bowler in Jasprit Bumrah, who took match figures of nine for 91, were worthy winners.

Despite having two full days to reach their mammoth target, England made no secret about their attacking intentions. The first session showed that was not just talk, with 127 runs scored and 86 in boundaries, but the price tag of five wickets was too steep to bear.

Rehan Ahmed, promoted late on Sunday evening as England’s so-called ‘nighthawk’, was the first when he stayed back to Axar Patel and fell lbw for 23. But his contribution was always likely to be a bonus and the arrival of Ollie Pope felt like the start of the real contest.

From the moment he stroked his first ball for four through cover his intent was clear but despite five quickfire boundaries, all off Patel, he looked error-prone. The mistake came when he slashed at a good ball from Ashwin, who had Rohit Sharma to thank for a sharp one-handed catch at slip.

Crawley was showing greater authority at the other end, converting his overnight score of 29 into a polished half-century. Twice he showed the full face of the bat and drove star seamer Bumrah back down the ground and he used his long stride well to manufacture a half-volley off Patel.

Root, who has been troubled by a painful finger injury, is more than capable of the same kind of control but did not look himself during a short stay. Two of his first three balls went for four, a perfectly timed reverse sweep followed by a ricochet off the glove, and he charged down the pitch to belt Patel for six.

The next ball was perilously close to pinning him lbw, saved by a whisker on DRS, and he was gone in Ashwin’s next over. Rather than relying on timing he threw the kitchen sink at a slog-sweep and sprayed a leading edge off the toe end.

Crawley now had the responsibility of making the big century England needed to stay alive but it was not to be. Mis-reading the wrist-spin of Kuldeep Yadav as he attacked from a leg-stump line, he was given lbw after a smart review by Sharma.

That was more than enough to give Indian the upper hand but Bumrah had one more up his sleeve. Bairstow was the victim this time, beaten by a sliver of movement off the pitch that trapped him in front.

The afternoon began with a lofty 205 still needed and Stokes carrying a familiar burden. He looked in determined mood but paid dearly for easing into what looked a regulation single to midwicket. Iyer only had a split second to get everything right but his pick-up and throw was outstanding.

A dejected Stokes stopped to speak to Ben Foakes before departing but, although the wicketkeeper shared an eighth-wicket stand of 55 with Tom Hartley, England’s race was run. Both men fell for 36, with Hartley last to fall when Bumrah ploughed down his off stump.

England’s hopes of chasing down a staggering 399 to win the second Test were dwindling fast on the fourth morning as wickets tumbled in Visakhapatnam.

The tourists delivered on their promise to embrace all out attack as they pursued their highest ever fourth-innings target but reached lunch in deep trouble on 194 for six.

With 205 still needed and Ben Stokes the last recognised batter, England appeared to be all out of miracles as India’s bowlers flexed their muscles.

Zak Crawley was alone in getting to grips with the challenge, making an impressive 73 before falling just before the break, but Ollie Pope and Joe Root both paid the price for their ultra-aggressive approach.

England scored 127 runs in the session but the price tag of five wickets was too steep as the hosts closed in on a series levelling win.

Rehan Ahmed, promoted late on Sunday evening as England’s so-called ‘nighthawk’, was first down for 23 as he stayed back to an Axar Patel delivery that kept low and trapped him lbw.

His contribution was always likely to be a bonus and the arrival of Pope felt like the start of the real contest. He proceeded to stroke his first ball to the cover boundary, signalling his intent from the off.

Pope hit five boundaries in quick time, all off Patel, but the Surrey man was keeping the bowlers interested too. His rush for runs quickly caught up with him when he slashed at a good ball from Ashwin, who had Rohit Sharma to thank for a brilliant one-handed catch at slip.

Crawley was showing greater authority at the other end, converting his overnight score of 29 into a polished half-century. Twice he showed the full face of the bat and drove star seamer Jasprit Bumrah back down the ground and he used his long stride well to manufacture a half-volley off Patel.

Root is more than capable of that kind of control but his brief stay was little short of chaotic. Two of his first three balls went for four, a perfectly timed reverse sweep followed by a ricochet off the glove, and he charged down the pitch to belt Patel for six.

The next ball was perilously close to pinning him lbw, saved by the umpire’s call on DRS, and he was gone in Ashwin’s next over. Rather than relying on timing he threw the kitchen sink at a slog-sweep and sprayed a leading edge off the toe end.

He has been carrying a painful finger injury for the past 24 hours and it is hard to know much trouble that was causing. But it was, by any measure, a frazzled innings and took his series tally to 52 in four attempts.

Crawley now had the responsibility of making the big century England needed to stay alive but it was not to be. Mis-reading the wrist-spin of Kuldeep Yadav as he attack from a leg-stump line, he was given lbw after a smart review by Sharma.

That was more than enough to give Indian the upper hand but with the ball beginning to reverse swing, Bumrah had one more up his sleeve. Jonny Bairstow was the victim this time, lbw after being beaten by a sliver of seam movement in the last over before the break.

James Anderson was in bullish form as England faced down a record chase of 399 in Visakhapatnam, claiming India were struck by an attack of nerves.

From an overnight score of 67 for one the tourists will be attempting not only the biggest ever pursuit by an England side but the highest ever in Indian conditions. Yet Anderson revealed their irrepressible head coach Brendon McCullum had already prepared them to take on 600.

England have been chasing the second Test ever since losing the toss on the first morning, but they are a side who truly come alive when the result is on the line and have won eight of their last 10 batting last.

When they hunted down 378 against the same opponents at Edgbaston in the summer of 2022 – the biggest ever fourth-innings pursuit by an England side – they did so with ease as unbeaten centuries from Jonny Bairstow and Joe Root delivered a thumping seven-wicket win.

And Anderson feels India’s dominant position on the scorecard masks a vulnerability, pointing to a second-innings collapse that saw them lose six for 44 to finish 255 and give England a glimmer of hope.

“I think the nerves were there to see in the way they batted. I think they didn’t know how many was enough,” said the 41-year-old.

“The chat last night from the coach was that if they get 600, we were going to go for it, but they were quite cautious even when they had a big lead.

“I don’t know if ‘intimidating’ is the right word but we’re putting different thoughts in opposition’s minds and captain’s minds. It definitely felt like they were unsure what a good score would be against us. There’s been moments throughout the last two years, particularly in the last 12 months, that makes us think we’re doing something well because the way teams have reacted.

“We’ve got so much quality in our dressing room and there are guys in there who can maybe get 150 for us and win us the game.”

Root has more big scores than anyone else in the away dressing room, but he may not be operating at 100 per cent due after an injury scare. He took a blow to the finger in Sunday’s warm-up and another while fielding at slip in the morning session, forcing him off the field for treatment.

It may not be wise for Root to do so himself, but the rest of his team-mates will be crossing their fingers it is nothing serious.

“His finger isn’t great. Hopefully he’ll turn up at the ground and be OK to hold a bat,” said Anderson.

“He’s been looking after it, making sure he did everything he could to help us out in the second innings. We’ll need everyone, I think.”

England’s eagerness to go on the attack was personified by the emergence of Rehan Ahmed at number three, volunteering his own promotion up the order in the ‘nighthawk’ role first devised by Stuart Broad.

He could have been out twice in the final over of the day but instead picked up two risky boundaries.

“He got announced as ‘nightwatchman’ over the Tannoy but he certainly wasn’t that,” Anderson said with a smile.

“I know there are 180 overs left in the game, but we will try to do it in 60 or 70. That’s the way we play, and we saw that tonight with Rehan going out and playing his shots. We have set our stall out.”

England’s reputation as the most fearless chasers in the game will be put to its biggest challenge yet after they were set a record 399 to win an absorbing second Test against India.

Since the ‘Bazball’ era began, Ben Stokes’ side have won eight of their 10 fourth-innings pursuits, including a new English record of 378 against the same opposition at Edgbaston 18 months ago.

Speaking after that match, Stokes said: “There was a bit of me that wanted them to get to 450, just to see what we’d do”. Now, he is one step closer to finding out.

That it is even considered possible after England ended day three on 67 for one speaks volumes for the way this team have raised expectations, not least in Hyderabad last week where they overturned a 190-run first-innings deficit.

But the challenge of finding another 332 runs in Visakhapatnam is even steeper, with a tricky turning pitch bringing the home spinners into play and the dynamic Jasprit Bumrah leading the attack.

England lost Ben Duckett for 28 when he was well caught off bat and pad but they refused to back down, Zak Crawley reaching 29 not out and Rehan Ahmed throwing the bat in a late cameo as the so-called ‘nighthawk’.

India had a chance to bat England even further out of the game but failed to back up Shubman Gill’s century as they were bowled out for 255.

England’s inexperienced bowling attack, featuring three young spinners with three Test caps between them coming into the match, Tom Hartley leading the way with four for 77.

The trio were perfect, with the occasional drag down or full toss creeping in, but their readiness to keep rolling up to try their luck showed plenty of heart. At 211 for four, with Gill on 104, that did not look enough but they clubbed together to take the next six wickets for 44.

India turned up already 171 in front and with all 10 wickets intact, a formidable starting point if ever there was one. But it was England’s old stager James Anderson who had the first say.

At 41 – and with no other seam bowlers in the side – he showed no signs of weariness as he blew away the Indian openers.

More than half of a sold-out Sunday crowd were still queuing outside when he struck with his fourth ball of the morning, a beauty that stood up off the seam and hit the top of Rohit Sharma’s off stump as he looked ruefully over his shoulder.

Yashavi Jaiswal, following up his stunning double century, was next to succumb to Anderson’s unforgiving line and length as he flashed a drive to slip. When Gill was given lbw to Hartley with just four to his name, England seemed to be calling all the shots.

But he took a chance on DRS and seemed more surprised than anyone when replays suggested a thin edge. A few moments later he had another scare, this time saved on umpire’s call as Anderson rapped him front.

Having survived his double scare, the Punjabi added exactly a hundred more runs. In the context of the game, against opponents not easy to intimidate, it was a crucial knock.

When Anderson exited the attack, the control went with him. Gill took the lead past 200 by launching Shoaib Bashir for six and dashed to 50 with successive fours off Ahmed. He shared a stand of 81 with Shreyas Iyer but Stokes’ refusal to give up on a lost cause got England back in the struggle.

Racing 20 metres as the ball sailed over his head he tracked it perfectly, dived at full length and pulled off a magnificent take before celebrating in front of a small pocket of travelling fans.

Ben Foakes produced a smart take of his own to give England a fourth success in the morning session, staying low to snatch Rajat Patidar’s bottom edge. There runs were ticking by too though, 102 of them before lunch and another 97 in the afternoon.

Gill took a six and two fours off one Ahmed over as he took India 300 ahead and brought his third Test hundred up in 132 balls. Bashir finally got him when he gloved a sweep behind, leaving Hartley and Ahmed to share the last four wickets.

Srikar Bharat, Kuldeep Yadav and Bumrah made six between them and Ravichandran Ashwin a frustrating 29 after Crawley put him down on four.

England were left with 14 overs to face, but allowed India an important breakthrough when Ashwin had Duckett well caught by the wicketkeeper off bat and pad.

Ahmed was pushed up the order to save Ollie Pope the ordeal and showed his fearless nature with three risky shots in a row in the final over before stumps.

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