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India v England: fourth Test, day one – live

He’s out! Rightly or wrongly, I suspect England will be fuming about that. Pope was on the walk and hit high on the pad – but the bounce has been uneven so far and I guess that one kept a bit low. The replay suggested it was hitting the leg bail. It was a brilliant review from India and Pope has gone for a second-ball duck.

Pope whipped across another excellent nipbacker from Deep. I reckon height will save him but it’s close…

India review for LBW against Pope! This is getting a bit too chaotic for England’s liking.

This time it’s for real: Akash Deep has his first Test wicket! Duckett pushes tentatively at a fine delivery and thin-edges through to Jurel. Deep beats his chest with delight; he has bowled beautifully.

Duckett could have left it, but a) it’s Duckett and b) it moved late from a full length. It was a really good piece of bowling.

9th over: England 46-0 (Crawley 34, Duckett 11) Duckett cracks the last ball of the over through the covers for his first boundary. There was enough in that over to suggest Jadeja will be a handful today, never mind on day three. In that context, this is a really good start from England.

Ravindra Jadeja almost strikes fifth ball. Duckett tried to sweep a ball from round the wicket, missed and was hit high on the back pad. India reviewed Kumar Dharmasena’s decision but there were two umpire’s calls so the original decision stands.

8th over: England 39-0 (Crawley 32, Duckett 6) Even Sunil Gavaskar, as classical an opener as we’ve seen, is high on life in the commentary box as he talks about England’s approach.

Duckett has been slightly starved of the strike, which has happened a few times in this series, but he has actually looked more comfortable than Crawley. He has also started quite slowly by his standards: he takes two from Deep’s over, which moves him to 6 from 17 balls. And now it’s time for trial by spin.

“This could be a fascinating contest, especially with England winning the toss on a sporting track, and India missing Bumrah the Magnificent,” says Brian Withington. “All results possible (other than a high-scoring bore draw?). What’s not to like?”

A 2am alarm call, but that’s about it. This series has been so much fun.

7th over: England 37-0 (Crawley 32, Duckett 4) We needn’t read too much into Crawley’s scratchy start; he struggled even more in the first hour of his astonishing 189 at Old Trafford last summer. (He also looked nervous as hell when he made all those single-figures scores in 2021, so nobody knows anything.)

Crawley has clearly decided to hit his way out of bother. After inside-edging Siraj through the vacant short leg region, he belts 18 off the next four balls! He hit three successive fours – straight drive, flick through midwicket, clip through square leg – and then ended the over with a disdainful clout over wide mid-on for six. Crawley, who has played a dog of an innings in so many ways, is 32 not out from 32 balls. He has the courage not to become ordinary.

6th over: England 18-0 (Crawley 14, Duckett 3) Deep beats Crawley twice more outside off stump, then finds an entirely genuine edge that flies wide of the cordon for four. If Deep had played 100 Tests this would be a seriously good new-ball spell. For a debutant it’s almost offensively good.

5th over: England 14-0 (Crawley 10, Duckett 3) Siraj has a big LBW appeal against Crawley turned down; too high. That seems to trigger a the-hell-with-this response in Crawley, who clumps the next ball down the ground.

He’s still struggling, but that was a decent shot. Duckett, by contrast, has been a) almost strokeless and b) immaculate in defence. It would be a glorious piece of trolling if he scores a 247-ball 41 today, with no leaves.

4th over: England 9-0 (Crawley 5, Duckett 3) Look, it won’t take long for Deep to take his first Test wicket. He has started superbly, with no sign of nerves, and is moving the ball both ways from a length. Crawley is really struggling to deal with his nipbackers.

Akash Deep is denied a first Test wicket. It was a storming delivery, which growled off the seam to beat Crawley on the inside and send the off stump flying. But Crawley was told to wait around and Deep soon heard the siren of doom.

Zak Crawley is put out of his misery by a spectacular delivery from Akash Deep!

3rd over: England 5-0 (Crawley 3, Duckett 2) There’s a deep point in place for Duckett, another moral victory for England, who thus gets only a single when he scythes Siraj square on the off side.

Siraj’s second over is another good one, with Crawley inside-edging a nipbacker for a single off the last ball. He looks a bit nervous.

2nd over: England 2-0 (Crawley 1, Duckett 1) Akash Deep is a relatively late bloomer: he’s 27 and only made his first-class debut in 2019. There’s a nice piece on Cricinfo that tells his backstory.

He starts with two slips and a gully for Duckett, immediately hitting a fullish length at around 85mph. The third ball strays down the leg side and is brilliantly stopped by the diving Jurel. Moments like that can be important in a low-scoring game.

Duckett and Crawley take a single apiece, then Duckett is beaten by a jaffa that snaps off the seam. This mysterious pitch is a test of England’s attacking intent, especially as they are batting first and have no frame of reference. They might need to sit in for a bit.

1st over: England 0-0 (Crawley 0, Duckett 0) Siraj’s first over is mildly terrifying, especially for those who were hoping to watch some cricket on Monday. Crawley is beaten twice outside off stump and rapped on the glove by a vicious lifter. One ball went through a bit low; two or three kicked from a length. Yeah, this is an interesting pitch.

Right, here we go. Mohammad Siraj, who outbowled Bumrah at Ranchi, will start to Zak Crawley. It won’t be a quiet start.

Just over ten minutes until the start of play. I’m off to grab a coffee but will be back in time to watch the first ball hit a crack and fly over Zak Crawley’s head for five wides.

Turn! Turn! Turn!

This is Graeme Swann’s verdict on the Ranchi pitch.

I’ve not seen a pitch like this in a long time. My fingers are twitching: it looks like a dried-up riverbed. There are a lot of cracks and they are very, very dry; if the ball hits those cracks it could explode. It should turn early in the game.

Deep Dasgupta, the former Indian wicetkeeper, thinks it could be hard to score square of the wicket but that it will “play much better than it looks”.

Akash Deep for Jasprit Bumrah is indeed the only change to the Indian XI.

India Jaiswal, Rohit (c), Gill, Patidar, Sarfaraz, Jadeja, Jurel (wk), Ashwin, Deep, Kuldeep, Siraj.

England Crawley, Duckett, Pope, Root, Bairstow, Stokes (c), Foakes (wk), Hartley, Robinson, Bashir, Anderson.

It’s just been announced that Rehan Ahmed is flying home today because of an urgent family matter. Ali Martin, our man in Ranchi, says he received the news after the team was announced yesterday, so it didn’t influence England’s selection.

Rehan won’t be returning for the fifth Test, which means Tom Hartley and Shoaib Bashir are the only specialist spinners left in the squad. I wonder what it would take for them to hit their knees in front of Liam Dawson.

It’s on! (Okay, it might not be on, but England really, really needed to win the toss.)

“The first hour should give us an indication what the pitch will be like,” says Ben Stokes.

“Yeah we would have batted first,” says Rohit Sharma with magnificent languor. “The pitch looks a little dry, with a few cracks, but that’s the nature of the pitch here. We’ve gotta play well to win the game, like we have in the last two games.”#

Interesting… very interesting

England have announced their team early, as is their wont. Ollie Robinson and Shoaib Bashir come in for Mark Wood and Rehan Ahmed.

India’s XI hasn’t been announced but we know that Akash Deep, the right-arm swing bowler who impressed enormously against England Lions, will make his debut in replace of the rested Jasprit Bumrah. That’s likely to be the only change from Rajkot.

I have most admired him, because he had the courage and the ability not to become ordinary.

Des Hoare’s quote about the former Australian captain Kim Hughes, taken from Christian Ryan’s glorious book Golden Boy, can be applied to – or at least adapted for – Ben Stokes’ England side. They don’t have the ability of a great team, which makes their courage even more admirable and their achievements even more life-affirming.

The backlash after England were hammered in Rajkot – parts of which were disproportionate, entitled, juvenile, ignorant and miserably lacking in both empathy and respect for an awesome Indian performance – will probably make them go even harder in the fourth Test in Ranchi. They’ll mess up at times, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming, and there’s every chance they’ll lose the series 4-1. So what: they’re playing away to India, the toughest challenge in Test cricket since going to the Caribbean to the West Indies in the 1980s, with a virgin spin attack and a malfunctioning middle order. The miracle is that it took until the middle day of the series for India’s superiority to become apparent.

Even now, when all logic says the series has taken a decisive turn, the hopeful voice, the one that thinks England can take this to a decider in Dharamshala, is still being given an audience. That’s purely because of all the extraordinary things they have done under Ben Stokes and Brendon McCullum.

In a world full of uniform individuality, we should cherish every chance we get to watch a team of true originals. Trust me: we’ll never have it this good again, and whatever happens in the next two and a half five days won’t change that.

Right, that’s enough 3am sermonising. Let’s get on with the game.

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