India vs England | Both teams up for the turf challenge in Ranchi | BetaVersa - BetaVersa
March 25, 2024

India vs England | Both teams up for the turf challenge in Ranchi | BetaVersa

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India’s Shubman Gill has turned things around after a modest start to the series.

India’s Shubman Gill has turned things around after a modest start to the series.
| Photo Credit: K.R. Deepak

 Heard first, Ben Stokes’ statement on Wednesday that he had “never seen” a pitch like the one at the JSCA Stadium here is sure to convey a sense of shock and dread.

But going by his demeanour in Thursday’s pre-match briefing it was reflective more of the confusion regarding how the turf will play.

“There is a bit more grass taken off from yesterday [Wednesday],” Stokes said. “You do expect the wicket to look different on the day before [the Test] than two days out. But our overall thinking and understanding is that it hasn’t changed much from yesterday.”

On Wednesday, Ollie Pope had described the 22 yards as “platey” with a lot of cracks. Late afternoon on Thursday, the curator bounced the ball outside the right-hander’s off-stump a few times at the Amitabh Chaudhary Pavilion End and then had the roller go over that area.

“We won’t go with many preconceived ideas,” Stokes insisted. “The pitch could be flat as a pancake. Who knows. If it is that, we will adapt. If it does more than what we think, we will adapt to that as well.”

To cover all bases, England has brought in off-spinner Shoaib Bashir for leggie Rehan Ahmed, and speedster Ollie Robinson instead of Mark Wood to join forces with Jimmy Anderson.

“Bashir releases the ball from such a height, the extra bounce he gets, we feel it is going to bring us more into the game,” Stokes said. “Spin is going to be assisted. But I also feel that having two seamers, we have a good chance. Purely because of Robinson’s release height and the relentlessness with [which he bowls in] his areas.”

India’s batting coach Vikram Rathour also harped on balance, meaning India could also line-up with two pacers and three spinners.

“In India, there is always a conversation about the pitch. This looks like a typical Indian wicket and seems like it will turn. There are cracks, definitely.

“But I am not sure how much it will turn or when it will start to. We have the required balance in our team to deal with any situation.”

Rathour was all praise for India’s young batters like Yashasvi Jaiswal, Sarfaraz Khan and Shubman Gill for shouldering the burden in the absence of Virat Kohli and K.L. Rahul.

“There is cricket intelligence in them,” Rathour said. “They are very cricket smart. When you miss key players, there is a sense of loss. It’s better if you have everyone.

“But a home series is a good opportunity for youngsters to come through. They have played on these wickets [before] and it is good to see them perform.”

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