Dhruv Jurel and Shubman Gill counter 'Bazball' to clinch Test series for India in Ranchi

Hosts chase down 192 with five wickets in hand to take unassailable 3-1 series against England

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A young wicketkeeper batsman playing just his second match showed that there is still room for old-fashioned gritty batting in Test cricket as India held their nerves to seal a five-wicket win in the fourth Test against England in Ranchi, to take an unassailable 3-1 lead in the series.

Dhruv Jurel (39 not out off 77 balls) calmed the nerves of a tense Indian dressing room as he added 72 runs for the sixth wicket with Shubman Gill (52 not out off 124) to help chase down 192.

Jurel is just 23 but the composure he showed in both innings was singularly responsible for keeping India's batting together; his 90 in the first innings rescuing India from 177-7 to 307 before taking the hosts to victory from a precarious 120-5 in the final innings.

He was named player of the match, beating stiff competition from Joe Root who hit a sublime first-innings ton and Ravichandran Ashwin who turned the match on its head with a five-wicket haul in the second innings that restricted England to just 145.

Needing 152 more runs at the beginning of the fourth day's play on Monday, India looked to be cruising to victory as openers Rohit Sharma (55) and Yashasvi Jaiswal (37) added 84 runs.

However, England knew one wicket would open the floodgates. And it did when Root, arguably England's most attacking spinner, induced a mistake from a Jaiswal drive, which was caught well at short third man. Then, captain Sharma was caught behind, and also stumped, off Tom Hartely after reaching a fifty.

When Rajat Patidar's lack of confidence was exposed again during a six-ball duck – caught at short leg – India were 100-3 with England right back in the match.

Just as England's spinners were getting into their groove, the home team's batsmen went into their shell. Something had to give.

Ravindra Jadeja poked around for 33 balls for four before Shoaib Bashir – another impressive youngster who has shown remarkable maturity this series – got the left-hander to push a full toss to mid wicket.

Bashir (3-79) was on a hat-trick when he had the dangerous Sarfaraz Khan caught at short leg. India were staring down the barrel at 120-5 and 192 a long way away.

The Indians had two options – go on the attack or take the tougher but more reliable path forward. Gill and Jurel chose the latter, smothering the spin and variable bounce with everything they had, playing with as soft hands as possible.

The entire partnership had just one boundary – a drive from Jurel against Bashir that brought the target under 50 – until India were within touching distance of victory.

Then, with 20 needed, Gill dispatched Bashir over the long off and mid wicket fence for two sixes in three balls to bring up his fifty and all but seal victory.

The formalities were completed when Jurel, deservedly, tucked Hartley for two behind square.

India captain Sharma credited the young players in the team for overcoming serious odds to win the series. It must be remembered that India have played the series without Virat Kohli and Mohammad Shami, while KL Rahul, Jadeja and Jasprit Bumrah have been missing at various points.

“It's been a very hard-fought series, so to come on the right side of it feels very good. A lot of challenges were thrown at us but we responded and were quite composed.” Sharma said.

The absence of senior players almost cost India this Test, but Sharma said the youngsters have shown they belong at the highest level.

“These guys want to be here. It's a big challenge, but the responses I get are encouraging.

“It's always not pleasing when you miss key players. To fill their shoes was not easy, but they responded really well. When you make a mark like that, you hold yourself in a good position for a long career. This will motivate them.”

England captain Ben Stokes, on the other hand, said he was proud of the fight shown by his team and added the series scorecard of 3-1 does not do justice to the type of cricket his team have played.

“It was a great Test match, the scoreboard doesn't give enough credit to the game as a whole. So much credit to our spinners, being exposed to a situation like that at the start of their careers. I couldn't be more proud,” he said.

Updated: February 26, 2024, 10:34 AM