Boost for England with Jasprit Bumrah likely to be rested for fourth Test

Fast-bowler is the leading wicket-taker of the series with 17 scalps

India's Jasprit Bumrah has been the leading wicket-taker after three Test against England. AP
Powered by automated translation

India fast-bowler Jasprit Bumrah is expected to be rested for the fourth Test in Ranchi, which will be welcome news for England still recovering from the record defeat in the third Test.

The Indian quick is the leading wicket-taker from either side after three Tests, with 17 scalps, and has consistently been the most threatening bowler. However, he is likely to be given rest as part of his workload management, having sent down 80 overs so far in the series.

If Bumrah does sit out of the fourth Test that begins on Friday, Ben Stokes' team will fancy their chances of scoring heavily against an inexperienced new-ball attack. Mohammad Siraj will, in that case, lead the bowling alongside either Mukesh Kumar or the uncapped Akash Deep – hardly a nightmare scenario for England.

India could well be forced to go to their spinners sooner than expected, and for longer. Also, there is no news on the fitness of KL Rahul, with star batsman Virat Kohli still unavailable. All of which will be music to the ears of England management who need every good news they can get.

The visitors were in a great position on day two of the Rajkot Test, racing to 207-2 in 35 overs with star spinner Ravichandran Ashwin pulling out of the match for personal reasons.

But all hopes of a decent first innings lead were blown away by another collapse as India gained a lead of 126 before Yashasvi Jaiswal smashed a double century to to put the match beyond England. The home team won by a mammoth 434 runs.

Jonny Bairstow was among the many England players who came in for criticism. Bairstow has scored just 102 runs in three matches in India but coach Brendon McCullum said it was important to show faith in the batsman.

Bairstow's highest score in the series so far was 37, posted in the opener in Hyderabad. He scored four runs in England's thrashing in Rajkot and was trapped lbw for a duck in his first innings, making him the player with the most ducks against India in Test cricket with eight.

The 34-year-old's struggles with the bat prompted former England captain Alastair Cook to say he should be dropped from the side but McCullum is keen on helping him rediscover his form.

Asked if Bairstow would make his 99th Test appearance in Ranchi, McCullum said: “I haven't even seen the wicket. But I'd anticipate Jonny would be playing, yes.”

McCullum acknowledged that Bairstow had underperformed during the series but said he deserved some time to get back on track.

“I'm not blind but he's done so well for us and he's had such an impactful career,” McCullum said.

“So from our point of view, we've got to keep on giving him confidence and block out a lot of the external noise as well and keep him really present and focused on what he's trying to achieve, and I'm sure Jonny will come good.

“[I will] spend a bit of time with Jonny and remind him that he's such a wonderful player.”

Updated: February 20, 2024, 8:35 AM