Ben Stokes remains defiant as England collapse to record defeat in Rajkot Test

Ravindra Jadeja picks up five after Yashasvi Jaiswal double ton in 434-run win for India who take 2-1 lead in five-match series

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England captain Ben Stokes insisted that his team's aggressive tactics will not be abandoned any time soon even through they crashed to a 434-run defeat in the third Test on Sunday, handing India a 2-1 series lead.

England looked determined to take the attack to India no matter what, buoyed by the magical win in the first Test. But all the bravado got buried in the heat of Rajkot as Stokes’ side were blow away for just 122 in one of their worst efforts with the bat under the new leadership.

Despite the heavy defeat, Stokes said his team will not move away from their style of all-out attacking cricket.

“Everyone's got a perception and opinion about things, the people in the dressing room is what matters to us,” Stokes said when asked is the England team had crossed over from attacking to reckless cricket.

“One-two down in the series and a great opportunity for us to come back and win the series. We leave this game behind and we know we have to win the next two games to win the series. That's what we'll look to do.”

That India did not need Ravichandran Ashwin for much of the second innings – he had pulled out during the match for personal reasons but returned to the field on the fourth day – showed just how strong India are at home.

A target of 557 was excessive to the point of being ridiculous. The only issue of interest was how long England would bat and whether they could take the match deep into the fifth day. Unfortunately, they did not even last half a day.

England openers Ben Duckett and Zak Crawley have been rock solid at the top but a disastrous run out of first-innings hero Duckett extinguished any hopes of thwarting India’s opening bowlers.

Jasprit Bumrah then had Crawley lbw to open the floodgates. Ravindra Jadeja (5-41) ran through the middle order, making the most of a bone dry surface to have Ollie Pope caught at slip before trapping Jonny Bairstow and Joe Root lbw.

Root looked determined to bat long, making seven off 40 balls. While that came naturally to Root a few years ago, he has become an aggressor under Stokes and looked unsure of where to go, much like the rest of the team.

When Rehan Ahmed tried to take on Kuldeep Yadav and hit a long ball to Mohammad Siraj at the fence, England were 50-7 and facing the prospect of a 500-run defeat.

Tom Hartley (16) and Mark Wood (33) hit a few confident shots before Jadeja wrapped up the innings by getting the latter caught at long off to dismiss England for 122 and complete India’s biggest Test win by runs.

The match was out of England’s grasp at the start of the day as the home started with a lead of over 300 and eight wickets in hand, with centurion Yashasvi Jaiswal to come back having retired hurt the previous day.

Shubman Gill looked like he too would reach three figures but a poor call from nightwatchman Yadav saw him run out nine short of his ton.

Jaiswal came out to bat again and in the company of debutant and fellow Mumbai batsman Sarfaraz Khan, went into overdrive.

Jaiswal became the first Indian to hit more than 10 sixes in an innings and matched the record of Wasim Akram for the most maximums in a Test outing – 12- as he completed his second double ton in his short yet spectacular red-ball career.

Three consecutive sixes from Jaiswal off veteran pacer James Anderson encapsulated the gulf between the teams, which was further established as Sarfaraz scored an unbeaten 68 in a second innings total of 430-4 declared.

India captain Rohit Sharma lauded the fighting spirit of the team who were 33-3 in the opening hour of the Test, lost Ashwin midway during the match and saw England smash 200 runs in 35 overs in the first innings.

“When you are playing Test cricket, it is not played over two, three days. We do understand the importance of playing over five days. They played well and put us under pressure,” Rohit said.

“We have got class in our bowling, the message was to stay calm and I'm really proud of how we came back the next day

Updated: February 18, 2024, 12:44 PM