England are confident they have the composure to cope with any mind games played by Scotland in Saturday’s Calcutta Cup clash.

The rivals collide in round three of the Guinness Six Nations, with Gregor Townsend’s hosts aiming to continue their recent dominance of the fixture that reads three successive victories.

Adding to the challenge of facing one of the most talented sides in Scottish history is the hostile atmosphere awaiting England at Murrayfield.

England fly-half George Ford was targeted in the tunnel by Ryan Wilson in 2018, sparking a brawl when Owen Farrell intervened, and the team bus is customarily held up by bagpipers.

Other tactics used in the past to unsettle the ‘Auld Enemy’ have been turning off the hot water in the changing room and disruption to their warm-up by entertainers.

England are on alert for niggle during the build up to the match and on the pitch itself, but number eight Ben Earl is backing his side to take any Scottish machinations in their stride.

“There’s a resilience in us, for sure,” said Earl, who is set to continue in the back row when Steve Borthwick names his team on Thursday afternoon.

“There is a good group of experienced players in this team now – Jamie (George), George Ford, Joe Marler, Dan Cole, Ellis Genge. Those guys are all different characters, but they’ve seen all the curve balls in the past.

“And then you’ve also got a group of lads who might not have played a load of Test rugby but who have played a lot of club rugby in some great games and in some great stadiums.

“So I’d say the group, in terms of expectation, is probably as prepared as any to deal with anything that’s thrown at us.

“You have to love it. If you don’t love it, then you’re playing the wrong sport at the wrong level. I absolutely love it.

“We’ve certainly spoken about the kind of Scotland are, what a good team they are, how good they are at home.

“It’s a tough place to play and we’ve definitely touched upon the trend of results over the last three or four years.

“But in terms of motivating factors, that’s one of many that we’ve got. We know the journey that we’re on as a team, in terms of what we’re trying to grow and evolve into. And that’s as much of a motivating factor as playing those guys.”

England are considering unleashing Manu Tuilagi against Scotland amid a warning from Kevin Sinfield that the midfield powerhouse remains a potent force.

Tuilagi is in contention to make his first appearance of the Guinness Six Nations at Murrayfield on Saturday, having been sidelined since December because of a groin tear.

It is the latest of many injury setbacks for the 32-year-old Sale Sharks centre, who broke his hand twice at last autumn’s World Cup, ruling him out of the start of the club season.

Tuilagi’s return would provide the ball-carrying muscle missing from England’s back line – Ollie Lawrence is also an option for the role – and Sinfield insists he still has plenty to offer the national side.

“I would say this without any doubt – don’t write him off yet,” the assistant coach said.

“He’s still got some really good years ahead of him and he’s very much a big part of how we move forward and what we are doing here.

“When you play like he has done for so long, and you are so physical, it is inevitable that at some point in your career you will have a run of injuries.

“What you find with the powerful-type guys, one injury tends to lead into another.”

Also back in contention for the pivotal round-three encounter in Edinburgh is George Martin, the star of England’s heartbreaking World Cup semi-final defeat to South Africa who is fully fit after tweaking his knee.

The 22-year-old enforcer, who can operate at lock or blindside flanker, stood toe to toe with the Springboks and his physicality will be a valuable asset against Scotland.

“Big. Physical. Aggressive. Great ball carrier and he’s one of our better defenders,” Sinfield said.

“In the semi-final he really stood out on the international stage against some of the biggest, nastiest, most aggressive forwards in the world. He was in and amongst it.

“If selected I have no doubt he’ll leave a mark on somebody. He’s already a top player, but he’s going to get better and better.”

England have won only one of their last six meetings with Scotland and visit Murrayfield knowing it is the most hostile of all opposition venues for Red Rose teams.

Fly-half George Ford has braced his side for a “niggly game” – he was targeted in the tunnel by Scotland number eight Ryan Wilson in 2018, sparking a brawl with Owen Farrell – and Sinfield insists frayed tempers are inevitable.

“There’s certainly going to be some niggle. When you’ve got two angry, nasty forward packs wanting to go at each other, there will be some niggle,” he said.

“It’s a Test match, there’s a lot at stake and we haven’t won against them for a number of years, so no doubt there’ll be some niggle.

“There will be some bits thrown at us over the next couple of days that we haven’t planned for or we haven’t quite expected.

“But that’s the nature of being in top-level sport and we meed to make the best of some of the circumstances we are faced with.

“The history is important for us to understand but it won’t change anything – we’re not going up there with any fear.

“We know how dangerous they are, we know they’re a good team, we know they’ve got some great players. But so have we.”

Scotland are hopeful that talismanic wing Darcy Graham will be fit enough to play a part in the Guinness Six Nations even though he will stay on the sidelines for Saturday’s Calcutta Cup showdown with England.

The 26-year-old – who is second on the national team’s all-time try-scoring list – missed the opening two matches of the championship against Wales and France with a quad problem.

Graham was scheduled to return to the fold for this weekend’s Murrayfield clash with England, but it emerged on Monday that he had suffered a new groin issue while training with Edinburgh last week, which has ruled him out of contention.

The free-scoring back – who missed the entirety of last year’s Six Nations with a knee injury – is due to be assessed this week and Scotland are hoping he will be able to return for the championship-concluding fixtures away to Italy and Ireland next month.

“Darcy had started back with Edinburgh and we were very happy about that,” said scrum coach Pieter De Villiers at a media briefing on Tuesday.

“But he’s picked up a bit of a groin niggle at the moment so he’s just nursing that. We’ll see how that goes.”

Asked if Graham was expected back before the end of the tournament, De Villiers said: “We’ve got another fallow week (after England) so that will hopefully give him enough time and then we’ll just assess things from there.”

Despite Graham’s ongoing absence, Scotland will welcome back two senior members of their back three this weekend, with Glasgow wing Kyle Steyn returning after missing the France game for the birth of his child and Toulouse full-back Blair Kinghorn available after sitting out the first two games with a knee injury.

“Blair has been training really well and we’re excited to see him back in the squad again,” reported De Villiers.

Saturday’s Calcutta Cup clash will be Scotland’s first outing since their agonising defeat at home to France, when the officials controversially decided not to award them what would have been a match-winning try after Sam Skinner appeared to ground the ball on the whitewash in the last action of a tightly-contested affair.

De Villiers admitted that having last weekend off was beneficial in helping the Scots banish any lingering frustration at having their hopes of a Grand Slam dashed in such galling fashion.

“Yes, it almost feels long ago,” he said of the extra time out of camp to regroup. “A bit of time off was good for the team.

“There’s obviously been frustration and disappointment. I thought we’d done enough to win that game but that’s the way rugby goes. Sometimes things don’t go your way.

“It’s the best thing for us to move on and prepare for England which is a fantastic game to look forward to. It’s all behind us.”

De Villiers has no concerns about any hangover from the France game plaguing Scotland this weekend as he feels recovering from such setbacks is “part of what we do”.

“It’s important to be able to move on,” he said. “It’s important to be able to be frustrated as well.

“As much as there were things we could have done better, it’s good to know that we did enough (to potentially win the game) as well.

“That’s important for our psyche and for moving on. It’s not the first decision to go against us and it won’t be the last decision to go against us.”

England will get a break from Jasprit Bumrah in Ranchi as India rest their star paceman for the fourth Test which starts on Friday.

The world’s number one-ranked Test bowler did not travel with the India squad as the two teams moved from Rajkot to the Jharkhand capital on a charter flight on Tuesday afternoon.

Bumrah has been the only frontline fast bowler from either side to be an ever-present in the series so far and there is just a four-day turnaround between the end of the third Test and start of the fourth.

It was widely reported that Bumrah would miss out in Rajkot after his starring role earlier this month in Visakhapatnam, where a nine-wicket match haul helped India level the series.

Bumrah featured in the third Test but had a more understated role with just one wicket in each innings on a flat pitch as India claimed victory by a record 434-run margin to move 2-1 up with two to play.

Despite being without several regulars in this series, including Virat Kohli because of personal reasons and injuries sidelining Mohammed Shami and Rishabh Pant, India have opted to rest Bumrah this week where conditions are again unlikely to be in his favour.

Batter KL Rahul will sit out again having missed the third Test with a quad injury.

“Jasprit Bumrah has been released from the squad for the 4th IDFC First Bank Test against England in Ranchi. The decision was taken keeping in mind the duration of the series and amount of cricket he has played in recent times,” a Board of Control for Cricket in India statement read.

“Meanwhile, KL Rahul is ruled out of the fourth Test. His participation in the final Test match in Dharamsala is subject to fitness.

“Mukesh Kumar, who was released from the squad for the third Test in Rajkot, has joined the squad in Ranchi.”

Bumrah is the leading wicket-taker in the series with 17 dismissals at a stunning average of 13.64 and it is thought the more seam-friendly conditions in Dharamshala – the venue for the fifth Test – will be much more to his liking.

England head coach Brendon McCullum anticipates a wicket which will turn as they take a step into the unknown later this week at the JSCA International Stadium Complex.

The venue has played host to just two Tests, the most recent in October 2019 where India beat South Africa by an innings and 202 runs, while England’s only previous visit to Ranchi was 11 years ago in an ODI.

Joe Root is the only survivor from that match in the current England squad. The Yorkshireman has struggled with the bat in the past few weeks, yet to reach 30 in six attempts although he has had a more prominent bowling role, sending down 107 overs so far.

Asked if Root could shuffle down the batting order by a place or two to make allowances for his extra workload, McCullum insisted the idea has not been discussed between him and captain Ben Stokes.

“I haven’t thought about it,” McCullum said. “I think Joe wants to be in the game. He’s totally invested in where this team wants to go. You see him on the field: he’s constantly going up to Stokesy.

“He’s incredibly invested. He spent a lot of time with his team-mates working in the nets on stuff as well. He wants a bigger role that he’s obviously offering. Honestly, I think Joe will be absolutely fine.”

England may get a break from Jasprit Bumrah in Ranchi as India are set to rest their star paceman for the fourth Test which starts on Friday.

It is understood the world’s number one-ranked Test bowler did not travel with India’s squad as the two teams travelled from Rajkot to the Jharkhand capital on a charter flight on Tuesday afternoon.

While there has been no definitive confirmation Bumrah will miss out, he has been the only frontline fast bowler from either side to be an ever-present in the series so far and there is just a four-day turnaround between the end of the third Test and start of the fourth.

It was widely reported that Bumrah would miss out in Rajkot after his starring role earlier this month in Visakhapatnam, where a nine-wicket match haul helped India level the series.

Bumrah featured in the third Test but had a more understated role with just one wicket in each innings on a flat pitch as India claimed victory by a record 434-run margin to move 2-1 up with two to play.

Despite being without several regulars in this series, including Virat Kohli because of personal reasons and injuries sidelining Mohammed Shami and Rishabh Pant, it seems India will leave out Bumrah this week where conditions are again unlikely to be in his favour.

Bumrah is the leading wicket-taker in the series with 17 dismissals at a stunning average of 13.64 and it is thought the more seam-friendly conditions in Dharamshala – the venue for the fifth Test – will be much more to his liking.

England head coach Brendon McCullum anticipates a wicket which will turn as they take a step into the unknown later this week at the JSCA International Stadium Complex.

The venue has played host to just two Tests, the most recent in October 2019 where India beat South Africa by an innings and 202 runs, while England’s only previous visit to Ranchi was 11 years ago in an ODI.

Joe Root is the only survivor from that match in the current England squad. The Yorkshireman has struggled with the bat in the past few weeks, yet to reach 30 in six attempts although he has had a more prominent bowling role, sending down 107 overs so far.

Asked if Root could shuffle down the batting order by a place or two to make allowances for his extra workload, McCullum insisted the idea has not been discussed between him and captain Ben Stokes.

“I haven’t thought about it,” McCullum said. “I think Joe wants to be in the game. He’s totally invested in where this team wants to go. You see him on the field: he’s constantly going up to Stokesy.

“He’s incredibly invested. He spent a lot of time with his team-mates working in the nets on stuff as well. He wants a bigger role that he’s obviously offering. Honestly, I think Joe will be absolutely fine.”

Alice Capsey has set her sights on World Cup glory with England this year after a rollercoaster 2023.

The teenage sensation has enjoyed a rapid rise since starring in the inaugural Hundred at the age of 16, being snapped up by franchise leagues around the globe and making her international bow in both white-ball formats during the ensuing two-and-a-half-years.

Capsey played her part in the drawn Women’s Ashes last summer, but was also involved in the England team which lost in the semi-finals of the Twenty20 World Cup at the start of 2023.

The next World Cup will take place in Bangladesh later this year and the explosive batter wants to help Heather Knight’s side go all the way.

“Hopefully we can go one better this year and not have the same disappointment we had,” Red Bull athlete Capsey told the PA news agency.

“What we’ve got in the dressing room at the moment is a really fun and supportive culture. Everyone is loving being a part of it and the freedom we’re given.

“People really came out and watched us in the Ashes, so we want to keep building momentum. We want to keep showing what women’s cricket is about.

“We speak a lot in the dressing room about inspiring and entertaining. I think that shows in how we play and I hope it does, but that’s another thing we’ll look to build on and do even better this year. It is a really exciting year.”

Last year started with Capsey facing a race against time to be fit for the T20 World Cup in February after she broke her collarbone in the West Indies two months earlier.

Capsey recovered but was out for a duck in England’s semi-final loss to South Africa before she was whisked off to India for the inaugural Women’s Premier League, where she helped Delhi Capitals finish runners-up.

 

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A maiden Ashes series was the next assignment for Capsey, who struck a classy 46 in a memorable five-wicket victory over Australia at a packed Lord’s and followed it up with an important 40 in another nail-bitter at Bristol.

The final act of 2023, after featuring in the Hundred and Big Bash League in Australia, was England’s tour of India where red-ball disappointment followed for the 19-year-old after she had also been overlooked for the one-off Ashes Test in June.

“It has definitely been a rollercoaster,” Capsey admitted.

“Yeah, international cricket and any international sport is hard. It takes a toll on the mind and also physically so those couple of injuries didn’t help me, but I am starting to find my way now of how to manage it all.

“It was a season of highs and lows, but I probably didn’t perform as well as I would have liked. I was a bit inconsistent and that is something I want to work on and is definitely a goal I am looking towards for 2024.

“It was a really enjoyable year. A lot of firsts again which sounds a bit crazy after the last three years but it was brilliant.

“Playing in a World Cup and things like that, they are all high-pressure moments. Hopefully the more moments like that I have, the better I will get at competing in them and the more experiences I will have to look back on.

“I guess it is kind of building a toolbox so you can come back to when the pressure is on.”

Capsey begins 2024 in India with another edition of the WPL before she joins up with the England squad for the final two T20s of a five-match series in New Zealand.

It kickstarts an action-packed year of white-ball cricket, but the all-rounder’s Test ambitions still burn brightly.

“Everyone had a lot of conversations with the management staff and it was definitely a combined decision over what was best for the individual,” Capsey explained regarding her WPL participation.

“We have a World Cup in Bangladesh and looking even more to the future we have a 50-over World Cup next year in India and this is part and parcel of my development.

“I have targeted an area I want to work on, which is spin and it is another stepping stone in my development to spend a bit longer out here and pick the brains of the people who play spin the best.

“If individuals are getting better and learning how to play their best games in those conditions, it will benefit England as well.

“Having that aspiration to continue working really hard and that end goal to make my Test debut is definitely something at the forefront of my mind and something I’m working towards.”

Red Bull athlete Alice Capsey is an England and Delhi Capitals all-rounder. Find out more about her here.

What the papers say

The Sun reports that Gareth Southgate has his eye on three uncapped midfield players – Manchester United teen Kobbie Mainoo, Everton’s James Garner and Fulham’s Harrison Reed – as concern grows over the form of Kalvin Phillips.

Coach David Moyes’ future with West Ham looks fraught as the club is understood to be sounding out Julen Lopetegui, Steve Cooper and Graham Potter to lead the Hammers, writes the Daily Mail.

Steve Bruce is keen to move abroad, with the ex-Newcastle boss looking to become the next manager for South Korea, writes the Daily Mirror.

Social media round-upPlayers to watch

Kylian Mbappe: The  Paris Saint-Germain star put pen to paper with Real Madrid weeks ago, reports the Daily Mail.

Liel Abada: According to the Daily Record, Celtic will speak to the winger’s agent this week to sort out his future.

Yann M’Vila: West Bromwich Albion has signed the former France international, but only until the end of the season, says the BBC.

England were chastened as never before in the Bazball era following another blockbuster double century from Yashasvi Jaiswal as they were set a world record 557 to win the third Test.

Jaiswal, who made 209 in Visakhapatnam last time out, equalled the record for the most sixes in an innings with a dozen in his unbeaten 214 to underpin India’s 430 for four declared in Rajkot.

England then lost both openers on the stroke of tea, ending a grim session on 18 for two in sapping conditions, as India took a giant stride towards moving 2-1 up in the five-match series.

Ben Stokes and England’s bowlers were powerless to stop Jaiswal, who crashed James Anderson for three successive sixes at one stage and shared an unbroken 172 in 158 balls alongside Sarfaraz Khan (68no).

Anderson leaked 78 from 13 wicketless overs, the first time he has gone at or more than a run-a-ball in several years, while Joe Root and Rehan Ahmed conceded over 100 runs with economy rates exceeding four.

This marked the first time under Stokes and head coach Brendon McCullum’s stewardship that an opposing team had declared against England.

Ben Duckett said the previous evening India “can have as many as they want and we’ll go and get them” but India are set to be boosted by the reintroduction of Ravichandran Ashwin on the penultimate day.

Ashwin, India’s premier spinner, pulled out of the Test on Friday night to tend to a family medical emergency but it was announced he will return on Sunday afternoon and be available immediately.

Even before he had taken the field, Duckett ran himself out before Zak Crawley was given lbw off Jasprit Bumrah, the decision staying with the on-field umpire as the ball would have flicked leg stump.

Jaiswal made 104 before retiring hurt on the third evening although he was back in situ after England made their only breakthrough of the first hour when Shubman Gill was run out for 91.

Nightwatcher Kuldeep Yadav added 27 before edging Rehan Ahmed to Joe Root. There was no celebration and the umpires had to send the decision upstairs to confirm the dismissal.

That merely brought together Mumbai mates Jaiswal and Sarfaraz, two of India’s big-hitters with a licence to throw caution to the wind and the pair accelerated sharply either side of lunch.

It was especially brutal in the first hour of the afternoon as 98 runs were added. Anderson attempted to frustrate Jaiswal by initially bowling wider but after going straighter the 41-year-old was flicked over long leg, carved over deep extra cover then driven back over his head for three sixes in a row.

Anderson, who has only gone at six an over on only a handful of occasions and not since December 2006 when he has sent down more than 10 deliveries in an innings, was hooked for Root soon after.

Root put down a difficult return catch when Sarfaraz was on 37 – the Yorkshireman’s second drop of the Test, although this was not as important as his first-day spill of Rohit, which cost 104 runs.

Sarfaraz went on to record an almost understated 50, the debutant’s second of the Test, with the crowd’s energy firmly fixed on Jaiswal.

He pushed Root into the off-side for a single, spreading his arms aloft before taking off his helmet and leaping and punching the air before soaking up the acclaim and sharing a handshake with Stokes.

Jaiswal was denied the chance to set the record for the most sixes in an innings, he is joint with Pakistan great Wasim Akram on 12, as Rohit called in his batters.

Dan Cole was given the green light to continue his England career by wife Isobel having decided he did not want to join the contingent of players retiring after the World Cup.

Cole took stock of his Test future after helping England finish third at last autumn’s global showpiece knowing that Courtney Lawes, Jonny May and Ben Youngs had already played their final international games.

The 36-year-old prop has re-established himself in the front row under Steve Borthwick after spending three years in Red Rose exile and is eager to make the most of his time at the top.

“My wife is very understanding that I haven’t got many games left. It was a joint decision,” Cole said.

“She understands that with Steve and the coaches that she knows from Leicester, it is a very good team environment and place to be. I won’t be doing it forever, so enjoy it.”

When asked if the current Six Nations would be his last campaign with England, Cole replied: “I haven’t made up my mind. I haven’t thought about it so far, we’ll see how it goes.

“After the World Cup I thought about everything really. I had a conversation with Steve and he said to me after Courtney had announced his retirement at a press conference ‘are you planning any press conferences or announcements?’.

“I said that ‘I’ve got to speak to my wife and to you Steve because if you’re not going to pick me then I will’. He said that I’d like you to have the option (to play on). I was like fair enough because I owe Steve a lot. And here I am!

“It’s one of those things where you never want to give up, but at the same time you can understand why boys with families do because international rugby is a tough environment to be in. It’s intense.”

Cole will be involved in next Saturday’s visit to Murrayfield where England will be aiming to register a third win of this year’s Six Nations, keeping them on course for the Grand Slam.

The Leicester tighthead’s scrummaging expertise has led to his Test resurgence and he believes the set-piece is more vital than it has ever been.

“Tournament by tournament in international rugby, there are less scrums but they are of higher importance, which is why teams don’t want to give an inch there,” Cole said.

“You have seen in the first couple of weeks of the Six Nations they can sometimes be a bit messy and slow.

“I know the reaction to that over the first couple of weeks of the Six Nations hasn’t been great, but obviously it can be a massive turning point in the game.

“It’s tough because it’s so important and every scrum is heightened. You are playing international rugby and so you are not going to be playing against any mugs, everyone knows what they’re doing and everyone is good.”

England gave India a leg up in the absence of Ravichandran Ashwin as Joe Root’s ugly dismissal sparked a dramatic collapse on the third day of the third Test in Rajkot.

Ashwin’s bombshell withdrawal from the Test the previous evening because of a family emergency meant India could only replace their premier spinner with a substitute fielder, depleting their bowling.

But they found their guests in obliging mood as Root’s patented reverse ramp off Jasprit Bumrah was brilliantly caught by Yashasvi Jaiswal, and a position of 224 for two became 319 all out.

Root was far from alone from contributing to his own demise, with Ben Duckett (153) and Ben Stokes (41) also guilty of loose strokes, as England surrendered a 126-run first-innings deficit before India swelled their advantage to 170 after going to tea on 44 for one.

Root partly atoned by making the breakthrough when India batted again, dismissing Rohit Sharma lbw when the home side’s captain missed a sweep. Umpire Joel Wilson’s not out decision was overturned but England still have a lot of work to do in the final session to swing back a bit of momentum.

The tourists’ profligacy drew parallels with last year’s Lord’s Ashes Test, where England were on 188 for one in reply to 416, with Australia minus spinner Nathan Lyon due to injury, before a succession of rash shots saw them skittled for 325.

England’s attacking brand under Stokes and Brendon McCullum is well-known but the match situation did not require a bold gambit from Root at the outset of a day where conditions grew increasingly sapping.

Duckett’s swaggering century had carried England to 207 for two from just 35 overs and, seeking to stay on the front foot, Root’s attempt to up the ante merely flew to second slip where Jaiswal held on excellently.

Root, who dropped Rohit Sharma in India’s first innings which cost 104 runs, was out for 18 which means he has failed to pass 30 in five innings in this series.

Root’s dismissal was put into harsher context when Jonny Bairstow was plumb lbw after Kuldeep Yadav found sharp turn. It was the Yorkshireman’s eighth duck against India and no other batter in history has made more.

Duckett lacked the fluency that had brought him an 88-ball hundred the previous evening but still moved to 150. However, he added just three off his next 12 deliveries which might explain why a batter so accustomed to feeling bat on ball chased a long hop from Yadav and toe-ended to cover.

Stokes, in his 100th Test, and Ben Foakes came through an exacting period, especially from Kuldeep, who bowled 12 overs unchanged with Ravindra Jadeja curiously unused until just before lunch.

Stokes was judicious off front and back foot and looked primed to mark his milestone Test in fashion but was suckered into a slog sweep off Jadeja, with Bumrah running back to take the catch.

Foakes fell for 13 next ball after pushing at Mohammed Siraj, albeit the ball sticking in the pitch a little, with those two dismissals the start of England losing their last five wickets in 38 balls and their final three in nine. Siraj bounced back from his mauling off Duckett to take four for 84.

England gave India a leg-up in the absence of Ravichandran Ashwin as Joe Root and Ben Duckett gifted away their wickets on the third morning of the third Test in Rajkot.

Ashwin’s bombshell withdrawal from the Test the previous evening because of a family emergency meant India could only replace their premier spinner with a substitute fielder, depleting their bowling.

But they found their guests in obliging mood as Root’s patented reverse ramp, with which he has had success in the past, off Jasprit Bumrah was brilliantly caught by Yashasvi Jaiswal at second slip.

After Jonny Bairstow fell for a record-breaking eighth duck against India, Duckett, who had batted with panache in an incredible counter-attacking 88-ball hundred on day two, toe-ended a Kuldeep Yadav long hop to cover for 153 as England lurched from 224 for two to 290 for five at lunch.

Memories of England burning themselves in last year’s Ashes Test at Lord’s – when several batters were caught hooking despite the absence of injured Australia spinner Nathan Lyon – came flooding back.

Captain Ben Stokes (39 not out) on his 100th Test and Ben Foakes (6no) survived some testing moments but England still trail by 155 runs on a pitch that is offering more assistance to the bowlers.

India used just three bowlers for most of the morning with Ravindra Jadeja, back from a hamstring injury sending down an over before lunch.

Before that, Bumrah and Mohammed Siraj dovetailed at one end with Kuldeep operating from the other.

Wickets had fallen early in each of the two previous days but the breakthrough on Saturday owed more to a rash stroke from Root rather than skill from Jasprit Bumrah. The match situation did not require a bold gambit but Root’s attempt to up the ante merely allowed India to get their tails up.

Root’s dismissal for 18 means he has failed to pass 30 in five innings in this series while he has been dismissed nine times in 21 innings by Bumrah.

Root’s dismissal was put into harsher context when Bairstow was plumb lbw after Yadav found sharp turn, with the Yorkshireman burning a review. No other batter in history has made more ducks against India than Bairstow.

Duckett was not as authoritative as the previous evening and gave the slightest of chances on 149, with Rohit Sharma getting a fingertip to an edge, before the left-handed opener moved to 150 off 139 balls.

He added just another three off 12 deliveries, which perhaps contributed to his eyes lighting up when a short and wide delivery was offered by Kuldeep but Duckett horribly miscued.

India spinner Ravichandran Ashwin has withdrawn from the third Test against England in Rajkot because of a family medical emergency.

Ashwin became just the ninth bowler in history and second Indian after Anil Kumble to reach 500 Test wickets on Friday when he dismissed Zak Crawley in the final session of the second day.

However, just a few hours after the close of play, the Board of Cricket for Control in India announced Ashwin had immediately pulled out of the squad and his availability for the last three days is unknown.

“In these challenging times, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and the team fully supports Ashwin,” read a statement from the BCCI secretary Jay Shah.

“The BCCI extends its heartfelt support to the champion cricketer and his family. The health and well-being of the players and their loved ones are of utmost importance.

“The board requests respect for the privacy of Ashwin and his family as they navigate through this challenging time.”

A tweet from BCCI vice-president Rajeev Shukla added: “Wishing speedy recovery of mother of @ashwinravi99. He has to rush and leave Rajkot test to Chennai to be with his mother”

Joe Root made partial amends for his costly drop of Rohit Sharma by taking care of Ravindra Jadeja but England were still made to toil against India in Rajkot.

Root put down a difficult chance when Rohit was on 27 on the opening day of the third Test, with the India captain amassing a further 104 runs, but the Yorkshireman held on when offered a return catch by Jadeja on the second morning.

Jadeja’s dismissal for 112 left India on 331 for seven but hopes of a swift conclusion to the innings were thwarted by the obduracy of debutant Dhruv Jurel (31 not out) and Ravichandran Ashwin (25no).

The pair put on an unbroken 57 to carry India to 388 for seven at lunch, although England had an unexpected helping hand from Ashwin, whose unnecessary encroachment on the middle of the pitch led to five penalty runs being awarded to the tourists.

Jadeja was officially warned about running on the so-called ‘danger zone’ the previous evening and any further indiscretion leads to the opposing team starting their innings on five without loss.

Ashwin pushed for a run before being sent back but because he had not moved to the side, increasing the risk of scuffing up the surface, he was disciplined, much to his chagrin, by umpire Joel Wilson.

England began the day needing quick wickets as India resumed on 326 for five and they saw off the overnight batters within the first five overs, Anderson collecting Test dismissal 696 after winkling out nightwatcher Kuldeep Yadav.

Anderson found a hint of away movement with a relatively new ball to take the outside edge and Ben Foakes took a simple catch.

Root came within a whisker of off-stump on a couple of occasions before gratefully accepting a tame chip from Jadeja, who would have been expected to marshal the lower order when the day began.

But Jurel averages 46 in first-class cricket while India’s number nine Ashwin has five Test centuries so England’s work was far from complete. Jurel showed his class by upper-cutting Mark Wood, the pick of England’s bowlers the day before, for six.

Tom Hartley beat the bat on a couple of occasions and rare edges dropped short of fielders as India crept towards a score upwards of 400, even if Ashwin’s transgression gives England a leg up at the start of their innings.

Ben Stokes has had an air of indifference at playing in his 100th Test but the England captain was “pretty emotional” at receiving his cap in a behind-closed-doors presentation.

England players typically hold a team huddle on the outfield before play to commemorate landmark appearances but Stokes this week described joining the 100 Test club as “just a number”.

In keeping with Stokes’ philosophy about personal milestones, his cap presentation took place in England’s dressing room before the opening day of the third Test against India in Rajkot got under way.

England assistant Paul Collingwood was tight-lipped about what he said to Stokes before handing over the cap but thought his former Durham team-mate was touched by the sentiments expressed.

“It was a real honour to be asked to present the cap in the first place,” Collingwood said.

“I’ve known Ben since he’s been a young whipper-snapper at Durham. It was great just to say a few nice words.

“It was just to really applaud what he’s achieved in his career so far, it’s certainly not coming to an end – hopefully he’s got another 100 Test caps in him.

“From the team’s point of view, it was to thank him for what he’s done and just the way he pushes the boundaries all the time and fills every player and member of coaching staff with confidence.

“It’s a great moment for him, I’m sure he’ll not be overly bothered about 100 Test caps but you could see once I was speaking he was pretty emotional to receive that cap.”

With the series level at 1-1 and resuming after a 10-day break, England made a terrific start as the recalled Mark Wood found the edges of Yashasvi Jaiswal and Shubman Gill to leave India on 33 for three.

Some early morning moisture aided England’s bowlers but as sun beat down on the Saurashtra Cricket Association Stadium, the pitch flattened out and Rohit Sharma and Ravindra Jadeja capitalised.

Rohit made 131 after being given a reprieve on 27 when Joe Root shelled a tough chance, which would have left India on 47 for four, while Jadeja contributed a princely 110 not out on his return from a hamstring injury at his home ground as India finished an engrossing day on 326 for five.

Wood eventually got reward for his short-ball plan by snaring Rohit to finish with three for 69 while he ran out Sarfaraz Khan with a fantastic direct hit from mid-on.

“Woody has good skill with the new ball, he can nip that around and swing it,” Collingwood said.

“But on flat pitches, you need something, be it a leg-spinner who can turn it both ways, or extreme pace.

“They are usually things that break those partnerships and give you an edge. You want a point of difference on these types of pitches.

“I thought we pushed hard all day and we threw everything at them. We all realise that however many runs India get, we’re going to go out there pretty positively with the bat.

“If we have to chase runs on this pitch, it’s a very fast outfield and we’re good at chasing.”

While Root’s drop of Rohit was a sliding doors moment, England might also have snared both centurions had they reviewed lbw decisions given not out on the field, with Rohit on 87 and Jadeja on 93.

“It can be frustrating at times, but you have to crack on and try to create more chances,” Collingwood added.

Jadeja was shuffled up one place to number five to spare debutant Sarfaraz Khan a baptism of fire following India’s top-order wobble.

By the time Sarfaraz made his entrance, India were on a healthier 237 for four after a mammoth 204-run union between their two old stagers.

Sarfaraz poured salt into England’s wounds by taking down the tourists’ spinners and contributing 62 off 66 balls before being left high and dry by Jadeja, who turned down the single that would have brought up his 100.

Sarfaraz was well short of getting back in his crease and Jadeja reached his century from the next ball although his customary sword-swishing celebration was not as vigorous as usual.

“We had a little bit of miscommunication and that happens, it is no big deal,” Sarfaraz said, absolving his team-mate of any blame.

Immanuel Feyi-Waboso knew the time to choose between England and Wales would come but not quite so soon.

Less than a year after helping Taunton Titans escape relegation from National League One, the 21-year-old Exeter wing made his Test debut in the Guinness Six Nations.

Whether he would commit to England or Wales became a matter of urgency when he began shredding defences for the Chiefs in his first season in the Gallagher Premiership.

 

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Born and raised in Cardiff, he qualifies for England through his grandmother, and the tug of war for his allegiance began when he was first called by Steve Borthwick in November.

By January, his mind was made up and he was picked in Borthwick’s squad for the Six Nations with his first cap against Italy following soon after.

“The first conversation I had with Steve was after Northampton away and that wasn’t even a good game for me. That was a terrible game for me!” Feyi-Waboso said.

“He rang me after that and said I’m on his radar. I was really shocked at the call and I kind of thought he was just saying I’m in his mind, but obviously I’m here now.

“It’s always been something to think about. I moved to England. A lot of my family are English.

“My grandmother [Margaret Spence Taylor] is English, lives in Gloucester. My dad [Andrew] is half-English and my mum’s Nigerian.

“As soon as I got into England it was a decision to think about, but I thought it would be a lot further in the future.

“I blocked out a lot of the noise (around the decision). I have a lot of good people around me, like family. They helped my decision and definitely didn’t force my hand. It was definitely my decision.”

Feyi-Waboso’s availability was considered a formality by Wales, but they underestimated the strength of his English ties and determination to study medicine.

Despite being awarded three A stars for his ‘A’ levels, he was unable to secure a place at Cardiff University and having then enrolled at Aston University, the financial collapse of his club Wasps placed him in limbo.

The Chiefs provided him with a new home and a place at Exeter University, where he is able to pursue his true calling.

“I enjoy learning, it’s what I enjoyed even before rugby. If I wasn’t playing rugby, my ideal situation would be just to stay in uni, keep learning, keep going,” he said.

“But obviously being a doctor is a career of constant learning. You don’t really stop. You do five years in uni, then you have two foundation years, then specialise … it’s not boring.

“I feel like learning is now habitual. It’s just something that I really want to do – become a doctor.”

Balancing his medical course with the demands of playing for Exeter and England takes careful planning, and he is being assisted by team doctor Katy Hornby.

“I have an exam in a couple of weeks. So I might have to go back for that, do the exam, then come back to the Six Nations,” he said.

“I also have an exam three days after we come back from France so I’ll be revising. It can be a lot to think about, but you make timetables and you manage – you do manage.

“And there’s a lot of help around – I’m going to do some exam prep with the [RFU] doc.”

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