Shoaib Bashir is England's hero as India stumble in Ranchi Test

Off-spinner bowls 31 overs in a row and picks up four wickets as visitors sense big lead in fourth Test

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England continued to enjoy a remarkable turnaround in the fourth Test against India, reaping the benefits of sticking to the basics as they closed in on a huge first innings lead on a deteriorating pitch on Saturday.

A day after Joe Root returned to his traditional approach to batting and notched up an unbeaten ton, it was the turn of England's bowlers to tie down India's batsmen through disciplined bowling on a pitch offering inconsistent bounce.

Young off-spinner Shoaib Bashir (4-84) bowled a marathon spell of 31 overs to break the back of India, who crawled their way to 219-7 by stumps on day two, still trailing by 134 runs.

Wicketkeeper-batsman Dhruv Jurel, on 30, and Kuldeep Yadav, on 17, were batting at the close of play with an unbeaten stand of 42 to add some respectability to India's score.

But the day belonged to Bashir, plucked out of relative obscurity and thrust straight into Test cricket.

The off-spinner came on to bowl in the ninth over of India's innings and remained unchanged from his end until Root replaced him shortly before stumps.

He removed Shubman Gill (38) and Rajat Patidar (17), trapping both lbw. Gill and Patidar remained stuck at the crease throughout their stay and were sitting ducks for Bashir who targeted their pads on an indifferent surface, and succeeded.

Ravindra Jadeja tried to hit his way out of trouble but was caught at short leg to put India in trouble at 131-4 at tea.

Bashir then got the big scalp of top-scorer Yashasvi Jaiswal, who made 73 before the left-hander saw the ball sneak through his defence and crash into the stumps.

Jaiswal looked like the best Indian batsman, again. The nearest England got to dismissing him before his half-century was when Ben Foakes grabbed an edge. Replays, however, confirmed the ball had touched ground before the wicketkeeper collected it.

Third Test star Sarfaraz Khan and all-rounder Ravichandran Ashwin were then cleaned up by left-arm spinner Tom Hartley, who used the exaggerated variations in bounce effectively.

Earlier, Root hit an unbeaten 122 after England resumed on 302-7, with the former captain adding 102 invaluable runs with overnight partner Ollie Robinson, who made 58. But the latter's departure brought a quick end to the England innings.

Jadeja returned figures of 4-67 as he ran through the tail to restrict England to 353.

"He was brilliant. He is a great young lad to have in the group," centurion Root said of Bashir.

"He should take a lot of confidence for the rest of this game and going forward as well.

"It looks like the pitch will keep getting worse. If we can get three early wickets, hopefully that puts us in a really strong position," Root added.

India are without a number of first-choice players, with star pacer Jasprit Bumrah being rested from the match. Facing the possibility of a sizeable first-innings deficit, India's bowlers will have almost no room for error when it is their turn to bowl on a pitch that is showing serious wear and tear.

Updated: February 24, 2024, 1:10 PM