Brendon McCullum credits the inspirational leadership and “total conviction” of Ben Stokes for giving England a fighting chance of leaving India with a series win.

The score is tied at 1-1 after two gripping Tests in Hyderabad and Visakhapatnam, giving England a realistic shot at becoming the first side to win away on Indian soil since 2012.

Head coach McCullum will lead his side to Abu Dhabi on Wednesday for a short break before the contest resumes on February 15 and, while the players will be resting up with family rather than hitting the nets, he insists they will be ready to “drop the shoulder and go hard” when they return for the third Test in Rajkot.

A crucial part of England’s ability to do just that so far has been the contribution of three novice spinners in the form of Rehan Ahmed, Tom Hartley and Shoaib Bashir, who have defied their lack of experience to claim 26 wickets between them against players who have grown up against the turning ball.

And McCullum was glowing about Stokes’ ability to instil belief in the group.

“There are heaps of positives. Our spin bowling unit, albeit young and raw, have shown they’ve got what it takes,” he said.

“I put it down to the skipper. He has total conviction in his methods and is incredibly empathetic towards people.

“He spends time with them to ensure his messaging is really consistent, in his body language and behaviours, and he backs up what he says to them off the field with opportunities on the field. He is desperate to lead this team and he wants to take this team to whatever level he can take it.

“I am absolutely delighted in how they have performed with very little experience under their belt. You look around and you just see guys who look like they belong at international level.

“I think 1-1 is probably a fair reflection of where the contest is at the moment and, if the next three Tests are anything like these last two, it’s going to be one hell of a series.”

A return to form for Joe Root would be the biggest possible boost for England’s prospects, with the former skipper yet to make an impression with the bat.

A total of 52 runs from four innings represents a meagre return for a cornerstone player with a strong case for being the country’s best ever sub-continental batter.

The manner of his most recent dismissal, slogging wildly at the wily Ravichandran Ashwin, caused consternation, but McCullum harbours no such concerns.

“There are three Tests left, still an opportunity to score a whole s*** ton of runs,” he said with a smile.

“Joe’s a world-class player and as good as anyone England has ever seen.

“People will look to the dismissal, look at the method of his option, but he was trying to get the field back so he could milk them.

“It is the bravery you have to show at times and sometimes you get out doing it, that’s just the way the game rolls. There is no doubt from our point of view about that approach.”

England are not currently anticipating any changes to their Test squad for the second phase of the trip.

A virus has made an unwelcome intrusion on the camp but should be gone before the series resumes and concerns over Root’s injured little finger have eased.

There is no expectation of Harry Brook returning to the tour, with the team management giving him space to deal with the family matters that brought him home on the eve of the series.

The only uncertainty surrounds Jack Leach, who injured his knee in Hyderabad, missed the next game and has now been hit by illness.

“It is still pretty inflamed, but I don’t really know because he has been crook,” McCullum explained.

“His knee is pretty bad though and it was remarkable he got through what he did in the first Test match.”

England are locked at 1-1 after the first two games of their Test tour to India, with a pair of gripping matches in Hyderabad and Visakhapatnam.

Here, PA news agency looks at lessons learned as the teams take a week’s break before resuming battle in Rajkot.

Rookie spinners are learning fast

With Jack Leach injured, England sent out an almost-unbelievably raw spin attack in the second Test.

Rehan Ahmed, Tom Hartley and Shoaib Bashir had a grand total of three caps between them going into the game – compared to 96 for India’s lead spinner Ravichandra Ashwin.

But under Ben Stokes’ proactive captaincy the youngsters are over-delivering on expectations.

They have each shone in different passages and are a major reason why England have successfully kept India’s batters from getting away.

England took a big gamble by fast-tracking such inexperienced options in conditions where the slow bowlers take huge responsibility but their development is unfolding quickly in front of our eyes.

England need more from their Yorkshire engine room

Joe Root remains the best batter in the England team and nobody has epitomised the ambition of the ‘Bazball’ era better than Jonny Bairstow, but neither man has landed a blow on India so far.

In four innings on tour Root has 52 runs at 13 and Bairstow 98 at 24.50.

It is too early to call it anything other than a blip but if England are to prevail in the next three matches they will surely play an important part.

Root is the team’s best player of slow bowling and has an exceptional record on the subcontinent, while Bairstow has the ability to bully attacks into losing composure.

Both have big roles to play after a slow start.

India are missing Virat Kohli

Both teams are missing key members of their batting line-up for personal reasons, with Harry Brook back home in England and Virat Kohli withdrawing on the eve of the series.

India appear to be missing their former captain most obviously.

He would surely be a more attacking presence in the middle order and a psychological boost for his team-mates, not to mention an electrifying factor in the field.

As a spectacle, the series would benefit from his return, but it would give the away side a new batch of problems to deal with.

Anderson is essential

A lacklustre Ashes series left some wondering if time had finally caught up with the evergreen James Anderson.

Not for the first time, he has brushed the doubters aside with panache.

At the age of 41 his efforts on his return to the XI were exemplary.

He is in outstanding physical shape and bowling with skill, control and the occasional hint of magic.

No other bowler in the squad can combine economy and wicket threat quite like Anderson and, after missing the series opener, he is once again a must-pick.

Surgery has saved Stokes

Stokes finally opted to go under the knife in November in a bid to solve his long-standing left knee problems.

He had long resisted surgery, unsure how it would turn out, but it looks to have given him a new lease of life.

The skipper has already pulled off two brilliant pieces of fielding that would have been impossible before – a wonderful run out and a sensational running catch – and no longer seems in constant pain at the crease.

Even more importantly, he has been making a gentle return to bowling in practice and hopes to be back as a fully-fledged all-rounder by the summer.

Sir Alastair Cook stood down from his role as England Test captain on this day in 2017.

Cook’s 59 Tests in charge made him the nation’s longest-serving skipper, until he was overtaken by his successor Joe Root, with his spell at the helm beginning in 2013.

Throughout that period Cook won eight of his 17 series in charge, including a 2-1 win in India in 2012 – their first series victory there since 1985 – as well as a win in South Africa in 2015-16.

Cook also led the team to two home triumphs in the Ashes, in 2013 and 2015, with a Test record that totalled 24 wins and 22 defeats.

The opener cited a loss of energy as the reasoning behind his resignation, concluding that the team would benefit from new leadership and deciding to devote his full focus to his batting.

Cook, whose last series as captain was a 4-0 defeat to India, said: “It’s been a huge honour to be England captain and to lead the Test team over the past five years.

“Stepping down has been an incredibly hard decision but I know this is the correct decision for me and at the right time for the team. We’ve kind of stagnated if we are being brutally honest.

“There is a lot of work to be done and I felt I just didn’t have that energy to do it. That’s part and the parcel of being captain, you are responsible.”

Cook remained part of the squad under new captain Root until 2018, when he announced his retirement from international cricket after 12 years, signing off with a century against India in his final innings in his 161st Test.

Cook, who was the recipient of a knighthood in the Queen’s New Year Honours in 2019, retired from cricket last October.

West Indies pacer Shamar Joseph was featured as the International Cricket Council (ICC) today revealed the shortlists of nominees for the ICC Men’s and Women’s Player of the Month awards for January 2024.

The ICC Men’s Player of the Month shortlist includes the architects of two memorable Test victories away from home, plus a prolific pacer who celebrated another significant milestone in the longest format.

The orchestrator for what was perhaps one of the most dramatic Test victories in recent memory, Joseph’s month will be long remembered for his bowling efforts in the second innings of the second Test v Australia in Brisbane.

Defending a modest target of 216 for victory, Joseph unleashed a remarkable spell of fast bowling, taking seven for 68 to cue wild celebrations.

This, in addition to taking the wicket of Steve Smith with his first ball in international cricket in a five-wicket-haul in Adelaide, saw him named Player of the Series and nominated for ICC Men’s Player of the Month for the very first time.

Joseph will be vying for the award against Australian quick Josh Hazlewood and English batsman Ollie Pope.

The Australian pacer joined an elite club in January after taking his 250th wicket in the longest format. Hazlewood played three Tests during the month, starting in fine fashion with four wickets in the second innings of their third matchup against Pakistan, to bowl the tourists out cheaply and contribute to an eight-wicket win in Sydney. The 33-year-old followed up by taking nine wickets in the first Test against West Indies and five in the second Test in Brisbane, clocking up 19 wickets at a sensational average of 11.63.

Facing a 190-run deficit in the first India v England Test in Hyderabad, Pope came to the crease at 45 for one. The 26-year-old then dug in and produced a batting masterclass to overturn the deficit, and set a challenging total which India fell short of. A blend of innovative stroke play and resilient defence characterised Pope’s innings in which he scored 196 in 278 balls, including 21 boundaries. The innings propelled England to a score of 420 before they bowled India out to secure a record-breaking victory.

The nominees for the Women’s award are Australia’s Alyssa Healy and Beth Mooney as well as Ireland’s Amy Hunter.

The three nominees for either category are shortlisted based on performances from the first to the last day of each calendar month.

The shortlist is then voted on by the independent ICC Voting Academy* and fans around the world. The ICC Voting Academy comprises prominent members of the cricket fraternity including well-known journalists, former players, broadcasters and members of the ICC Hall of Fame.

The Voting Academy submit their votes by email and hold a 90 per cent share of the vote.

Fans registered with the ICC can vote via the ICC website, accounting for the remaining 10 per cent. Winners are announced every second Monday of the month on ICC’s digital channels. 

 

James Anderson led from the front as England bowled India out for 396 on the second morning in Visakhapatnam.

Anderson, 41 years old and with 22 years of international cricket on the clock, charged in for eight overs in the mid-morning heat in a metronomic spell worth two for 17.

He dismissed old adversary Ravichandran Ashwin and the dashing Yashavi Jaiswal, who finished with an outstanding 209, as England picked up their last four wickets for 60 runs.

There is plenty of cricket still to play but in keeping India below the 400 mark in what should be the best batting conditions of the match, England performed admirably. They then made a typically bright start to their reply, Zak Crawley and Ben Duckett rushing to 32 without loss in six overs before tea.

With the hosts resuming on 336 for six, England captain Ben Stokes chose to lean on his most and least experienced players, pairing Anderson with newcomer Shoaib Bashir and leaving them unchanged for 75 minutes.

Anderson, taking the new ball, used all of his subtle skills in an excellent spell and set the tone with a pair of breakthroughs. An early lbw shout against Jaiswal was close but not close enough and it was Ravichandran Ashwin, who had annoyed Anderson by moving around at the non-striker’s end, who was first to fall courtesy of a thin edge behind.

Jaiswal took just 20 balls to convert his overnight score of 179 into an outstanding double ton, sweeping Bashir for six and four in successive deliveries before standing arms outstretched in a manner that called to mind Jude Bellingham’s favourite celebration.

The 22-year-old seems destined for cricketing superstardom but he soon learned why so few over the years have slogged Anderson and survived to tell the tale. Stepping away and aiming for the stands, he only got half a connection and picked out Jonny Bairstow at deep cover.

His work finally done, Anderson retreated for a well deserved rest with figures of three for 45 in 25 overs.

The next generation did the rest, Rehan Ahmed (three for 65) getting Jasprit Bumrah caught at slip and Bashir (three for 138) made short work of fellow debutant Mukesh Kumar.

That left a tricky window for the England openers but they made light of the challenge, sharing six boundaries to begin the job of building their side’s response.

Jamie George has urged England to draw inspiration from their cricketing counterparts by cultivating their own form of ‘Bazball’.

Steve Borthwick’s side launch a new era when they face Italy in the Guinness Six Nations on Saturday with George leading a side containing two uncapped starters and three more debutants on the bench.

George is at the helm for the first time and the Saracens hooker is stirred by the success of captain Ben Stokes and coach Brendon McCullum in developing a winning cricket team that plays without fear.

The style has been dubbed Bazball, referencing McCullum’s nickname, and George believes that by adopting similar principles his England can also flourish as the next World Cup cycle begins at the Stadio Olimpico.

“I’m a cricket fan so why would I not take inspiration from what Ben Stokes is doing with the England cricket team?” George said.

“You look at the influence Ben Stokes has on young players, allowing them to go out and perform the way they do, creating an environment to allow that. It’s exactly the model that we want.

“I’m not saying it’s going to be perfect, it’s never going to be perfect. But at the same time, Ben is someone who I take a huge amount of inspiration from.

“I want that connection with the fans. I want people to love coming to watch England play, for plenty of reasons – the result being one, how we play the game being another.

“Also the amount of fight and character that we show, the amount of pride and passion that we play with.

“Ben Stokes talks about being entertainers and we want to entertain people, of course we do, but we want to do it in the right way, we want to do it in the England way.

“They’ve managed to find a way to do that with Bazball so we will find our own way of doing it.”

England have lost the opening match in the previous four Six Nations and George is determined for them to end that sequence by delivering an emphatic victory over opponents they have beaten in all 30 previous meetings.

“We want to make a statement and we also want to make it very clear what this England team is about going forward. And we want to give the England fans plenty to shout about,” he said.

George knows the advice he will give to the uncapped Fraser Dingwall, Ethan Roots, Chandler Cunningham-South, Fin Smith and Immanuel Feyi-Waboso also stands for himself when he lead the side out for the first time.

“It’s going to be quite an emotional day,” he said. “I’m quite an emotional person anyway. I’ve got some family flying over – and some family who aren’t able to fly.

“The obvious statement is that it’s going to be a dream come true. I don’t think you can ever prepare yourself for moments like that.

“As ever I just want to be in the moment as much as I can and soak it all up. It’s a similar message to what I’ll be telling the guys having their first cap.

“That was the best piece of advice I got before my first cap because it goes like that (clicks fingers). The anthem… it just flies by.

“I want to really try and soak it all up, take it all in and then put in a good performance off the back of it.”

England have revealed Marcus Smith could miss the entire Guinness Six Nations because of the calf injury that has ruled him of at least Saturday’s opener against Italy and Wales a week later.

A clearer picture over Smith’s fitness will emerge next week, but in the meantime veteran George Ford has been installed at fly-half for the Stadio Olimpico showdown with Fin Smith deputising from the bench.

Fin Smith is one of five uncapped players in the matchday 23 and should all of them get time on the field, it will be the highest number of new caps awarded in a single match since Stuart Lancaster’s first game in charge in 2012.

Centre Fraser Dingwall and flanker Ethan Roots are included in the starting XV while Smith, back row Chandler Cunningham-South and wing Immanuel Feyi-Waboso feature on the bench.

In a boost to England, Alex Mitchell has recovered from a leg wound to take his place at scrum-half, but the player who was expected to partner him at half-back faces an anxious wait to see if he will be involved at all over the coming weeks.

“Marcus will go back to England today (Thursday) and have further investigations later this week. He won’t be available next week,” Borthwick said.

“We’re not sure exactly when. Hopefully he will play in the latter part of the Six Nations, but it will be a number of weeks. We’ll know more next week.”

Mitchell’s immediate prospects of building on becoming first-choice scrum-half at the World Cup were thrown into doubt when he felt unwell as a result of the infected wound he took into England’s camp in Girona, preventing him from training fully until Thursday morning.

“Our medical team took great care of him over the weekend and at start of the week to get the infection under control and he looks brilliant,” Borthwick said.

“He played a lot of minutes for us during the World Cup and has played a lot of time for his club, so he is match sharp and ready to go. He looked fantastic in training today (Thursday).”

Experienced faces such as Ford, Joe Marler and Maro Itoje are present throughout the 23, but the rare inclusion of five debutants indicated the post-2023 World Cup rebuilding phase is under way, even if some of the picks were forced on Borthwick.

Dingwall starts at inside centre having been included in nine previous England squads without winning a cap, giving him the opportunity to prove he is the solution to the team’s problem position.

Although lacking the raw power of the injured Manu Tuilagi and Ollie Lawrence, the 24-year-old is a classy runner who is comfortable at 12 or 13.

Roots, a former jiu-jitsu champion who qualifies for England through his father, represented the Maori All Blacks but having left New Zealand in 2021 he has proved a hit at the Ospreys and now Exeter.

If Finn Smith, Cunningham-South and Immanuel Feyi-Waboso join them on the field, it will be an injection of fresh faces not seen for 12 years.

“Each one of those guys has earned his place in the matchday 23. Each one of them is an exciting young player,” Borthwick said.

“I didn’t think I’d be naming a 23 with five debutants. I’ve asked when the last time was England named a 23 with five new caps in it!”

Danny Cipriani has retired from professional rugby and declared it a “sobering but also freeing moment”.

The 16-times capped England outside-half had not played since 2022 and was “semi-retired”.

But the 36-year-old has now officially called time on a colourful career that included two spells at Wasps as well as stints at Melbourne Rebels, Sale, Gloucester and Bath.

“Even though I’ve been semi-retired. This is my official announcement,” Cipriani wrote on X, formerly Twitter.

“I haven’t played for a while, but in my mind I left it open.

“Messaging my agent as I sit outside Costa, I realised I don’t want to play again. Sobering but also freeing moment.”

Cipriani made his England debut in 2008 with his last appearance coming against South Africa in 2018.

There was no disputing Cipriani’s natural talent but off-pitch problems were a common theme of his career.

“Thank you to all the coaches I’ve had, taken lots away from each one of you,” Cipriani wrote.

“All the staff at every club who are always the greatest mix of personalities, thank you for often being the heartbeat of the club.

“To the supporters who turned up and wore their heart on their sleeves, thank you for showing love throughout my career, special memories from all the fans of each team I played at.

“To all my team mates I played with, man I loved it, I know sometimes I could be relentless, we did have some fun out there though.

“Learnt so much throughout my career and when I reflect, I’m grateful for every moment.

“Anyway, from a semi-retired now officially retired ex rugby player. I couldn’t be more excited for right now, and what’s in store in the future!”

Jack Leach has been ruled out of England’s second Test against India, pushing Somerset team-mate Shoaib Bashir one step closer to an international debut.

England will settle on their XI for Friday’s match in Visakhapatnam after taking a final look at the pitch, but will need to rethink in the absence of their senior spinner.

The 32-year-old was in visible discomfort for most of England’s remarkable victory in the first Test, where he played a restricted role, and finally gave in to the inevitable after sitting out Wednesday’s training session with bruising and swelling on his left knee.

“He’s ruled out of the second Test. Unfortunately the knock he took resulted in a haematoma,” said captain Ben Stokes, who hailed Leach as a “warrior” last week for struggling though the series-opener.

“It’s a big shame for us and a big shame for him. It’s something we’re assessing every day but the medical team have taken over on that so hopefully it’s not something too serious that keeps him out for longer.”

While Leach was an onlooker at nets, 20-year-old Bashir joined in for the first time since complications over his visa application were resolved.

Bashir racked up 10,000 unwanted air miles shuttling between Abu Dhabi, London and Hyderabad, where he arrived just in time to take in the final day of England’s audacious victory, and is now in the selection mix.

Record wicket-taker James Anderson is pushing hard for a recall, alongside or instead of fellow seamer Mark Wood, while Rehan Ahmed’s role could come into question after a quiet game with the ball.

But the fact that Bashir, who has a gossamer-thin first-class record of 10 wickets in six games at an average of 67, is being discussed shows just how far Stokes and head coach Brendon McCullum are willing to push the envelope.

The success of the inexperienced Tom Hartley on debut last week, taking a second-innings seven-for to send his side 1-0 up, can only have emboldened Stokes.

It was him who first floated the youngster’s name six months ago after watching a video montage of Bashir bowling to former England captain Sir Alastair Cook on his first Somerset appearance.

“To be perfectly honest, our training camp in Abu Dhabi was the first real live look I got at Bash,” Stokes said.

“The first time I saw him was on Twitter. I think the County Championship put a little clip together of him bowling against Sir Alastair.

“I just saw something. With the height he bowled from, it was very obvious that he put a lot of action, a lot of revolutions, on the ball.

“I’m in a WhatsApp group with (director of cricket) Rob Key and Baz (McCullum). So I actually did forward the clip on and said, ‘Have a look at this, this could be something we could work with on our India tour’. It just progressed from there.”

Stokes realises how raw Bashir is and takes the responsibility of managing his fast-tracking to the international arena seriously.

“He’s a young kid who’s finding his way… I was about to say he’s finding his way in first-class cricket, but he’s on a Test tour now,” he said.

“He’s a real sponge at the moment and I think that’s because of how young he is. He’s got an unbelievable coach here in Jeetan Patel and he’s also got someone in Jack leach who is a massive help, particularly with their Somerset connection.

“If he was to play on this tour, the great thing he has going for him is what is there to lose? That is how I will be thinking about it if he gets the chance to play.

“Just make sure I give him the best experience I possibly can because you only play your first Test once. If he does play then I’ll be trying to make it as fun and enjoyable for him as I can.”

England will play matches against Austria and Italy during a training camp in Spain next month, the Football Association has announced.

Both games will take place at the Estadio Nuevo Mirador in Algeciras, with the Lionesses facing Austria on February 23 before taking on Italy four days later.

Sarina Wiegman’s side were last in action in December when they saw their bid to reach the Nations League semi-finals – and secure a Paris Olympics place for Great Britain – end despite winning 6-0 against Scotland at Hampden Park.

The February double-header of friendlies comes ahead of the Euro 2025 qualifying draw taking place on March 5, and that campaign getting under way in April.

Wiegman, who earlier this month signed a contract extension running to the 2027 World Cup, said in a statement from the FA: “This will be our kick-off to get ready for the Euro qualifying campaign beginning in April, so there’s no time to waste in February.

“Heading to Spain with hopefully warmer weather and great facilities will allow us to maximise every minute together. Playing two games against good opposition in Austria and Italy, should be excellent preparation for another big year ahead.

“They are two good and different opponents who will want to start the year strong too, so it will be important to come together again as a team and use these games to prepare for the qualification matches starting in April.”

Reigning European champions and World Cup runners-up England will be joined in Marbella by Emma Coates’ Under-23s, who are set to play matches against Spain and the Netherlands.

England fly-half Marcus Smith is awaiting scan results on a leg injury sustained in training just five days before the Guinness Six Nations’ opener against Italy.

Steve Borthwick’s squad are on a training camp in Girona and the England head coach is scheduled to announce his starting line-up on Thursday.

England’s Six Nations’ hopes would be given a huge blow if Smith is ruled out as fellow fly-half Owen Farrell is ineligible for selection following his move from Saracens to French side Racing 92 last week.

Farrell had already made himself unavailable for this season’s Six Nations in order to focus on his mental well-being and Smith was a leading contender to fill his boots.

Smith left England’s training camp on crutches and headed for a scan after his session had been cut short.

England attack coach Richard Wigglesworth told several national media outlets: “Hopefully it’s very precautionary, but if he is not (available) it would definitely be a blow for us.

“It wasn’t a big incident. He was just jogging, but he pulled up and happened to be right next to a physio by the sideline, so they walked off after that. All the usual stuff (medical assessments) will happen.”

Ollie Pope had his England team-mates in awe with a remarkable century in the first Test against India, leaving Joe Root scrambling for superlatives.

Root finally settled on “absolute masterclass” as he tried to sum up Pope’s unbeaten 148 on day three in Hyderabad, fine words from a man with more than 11,000 Test runs and 30 centuries under his belt.

England were 190 runs behind when they started their second innings, but Pope defied the perilous match situation, an unpredictable pitch and a world-class bowling attack to produce a career-best knock.

He overcame all three as he hit 17 fours over 208 deliveries and he carried the tourists to 316 for six – a handy lead of 126, in circumstances that could easily have produced an innings defeat.

That it all came in his first match back after six months sidelined by shoulder surgery, on a surface where the next best score from either team stands at 87, was even more impressive.

Should England somehow find a route to an unlikely victory over the next two days, it will surely go down as an all-time classic.

“I’m speechless really…it’s one of the best knocks I’ve ever seen,” said Root.

“I’ve seen a lot of cricket, I’ve played and batted out there in the middle with a lot of brilliant players and to witness that was was really special. There’s a lot of people in our dressing room that have seen and played a lot of cricket that are of the same mind as I am.

“The way that Popey played today, honestly, it’s an absolute masterclass in how to bat in these conditions as an overseas player. We all know he’s got an array of shots and can score all round the wicket, but to have the self-belief and desire to put a score together for the team and get us to where we are now was outstanding.

“The maturity he showed, the smarts, the way he manoeuvred the field…it was unbelievable. You sit here very emotional being part of it, but I’m sure I’ll sit back and still be impressed and wowed by the way he’s played.”

Root has long been England’s standard-bearer in Asia, where he has scored five centuries, including doubles in Galle and Chennai, but suggested he would happily pass the torch to Pope.

“I’m not any more, I think that’s the benchmark,” he said.

“I might have scored a few runs in the sub-continent but not on a surface like that, against an attack like that.

“I didn’t even mind when he ‘big dogged’ me and said, ‘Can you do the press tonight?’ He spoke this morning in front of the group and and he’s grasped the moment, taken responsibility and backed it up in his actions. That’s what you want from leaders within the dressing room.

“As an old-timer in this team, it’s great to see these young lads coming in, really putting their stamp on things and leading from the front.”

England will want to add plenty more runs on day four to flip the pressure back on their opponents and will be hampered in the fourth innings by an injury to lead spinner Jack Leach.

It is understood he is suffering from pain and swelling, but Root is full of positivity about the way his side have taken the fight to hosts who have lost just three times in their last 46 games at home.

“Regardless of what happens for the rest of the game, I think we’ve laid down some good markers and shown that we have got the tools and skills to really compete in these conditions,” he said.

“Dream the dream. We’ll go to bed and think of what could be tomorrow, then throw everything at the day.”

Ollie Pope led the resistance with a brilliant, battling century as England fought hard to keep the first Test against India alive in Hyderabad.

Faced with the unenviable task of overturning a 190-run first-innings deficit, the vice-captain dug deep to make an unbeaten 148 as his side found their way to 316 for six at stumps on day three.

While the tourists still have plenty of work ahead of them to turn the pressure fully back on India, they showed admirable steel to build a lead of 126 with four wickets still in hand.

Pope’s fifth Test hundred was the mainstay, marking a welcome return after six months out following surgery on a dislocated shoulder.

The Surrey batter had not played since the second Ashes Test last summer and, without any warm-up games to find his feet, looked short of rhythm when he was dismissed for just one on the first day.

He started sketchily again, aiming an errant reverse sweep at his second ball as he searched for scoring shots, but grew in stature as he put together an innings of real substance.

Having bounded along to his half-century in just 54 deliveries, he took 100 more to reach three figures.

The longer Pope took, the more controlled he appeared, and this was a knock that reinvigorated a contest that seemed destined to slip away from England in a hurry.

The scoreboard looked ominous when skipper Ben Stokes fell at 163 for five, India still 27 ahead, but Pope and Ben Foakes, with 34, gritted their teeth in a partnership worth 112.

India began the day on 421 for seven and were mopped up efficiently for the addition of just 15 runs.

Joe Root, continuing his unexpected emergence as his side’s most threatening bowler, snapped up two in two balls, Ravindra Jadeja lbw for 87 and Jasprit Bumrah for a golden duck. Rehan Ahmed provided the finishing touch when he zipped one low through Axar Patel.

If India losing three wickets without a run caused jitters in the away dressing room they were not evident in a dashing opening stand of 45 between Zak Crawley and Ben Duckett.

Crawley reverse swept with authority and lifted Patel down the ground for six, but was gone for 31 before the end of the 10th over, nicking Ravichandran Ashwin to slip.

Pope’s presence was not immediately reassuring, hitting fresh air almost immediately as he attempted to get off the mark with a reverse sweep of his own, but Duckett’s arsenal of sweeps proved a reliable source of runs.

England took lunch at 89 for one and were up to 113 when a masterful spell of reverse swing from Bumrah cut their fightback down.

He should have had Duckett lbw but saw his appeal wrongly shrugged away by the on-field umpire and his captain.

Undeterred he came again, shaping the ball through the air, through the gap that Duckett’s lavish drive left and sent his off stump flying for 47.

Root followed after just six balls, trapped in front by another that tailed in and thudded his front pad. On a pitch that had rendered the pace bowlers an afterthought for so long, it was an exceptional intervention from Bumrah.

It was credit to Pope that he not only survived it but also kept his score moving, picking off boundaries and topping them up with hard running between the wickets.

He needed a partner to help but lost Jonny Bairstow for 10, offering no shot to Jadeja’s arm ball, and then saw Ashwin snake one past Stokes’ outside edge and into the top of off.

England were still 18 behind at the start of the evening session but Pope and Foakes knuckled down to turn that into a workable lead.

Foakes watched the ball on to his bat and took minimal risks, while Pope showed real poise as he built his score with a new sense of calm.

By now the reverse sweep that had left him looking vulnerable earlier was coming out of the middle of the bat and providing a vital supply of boundaries.

He gradually became more inventive as he sought gaps in the field, leaving India scratching their heads as they tried to pin him down.

He scrambled three off Jadeja to reach a hard-won hundred, his first in the second innings and third overseas, and marked it in under-stated fashion.

Foakes’ stay was ended by a grubber from Patel, who blotted his copy book by dropping Pope on 110.

That allowed Pope to walk off unbeaten at the close with Ahmed at his side, dreaming of further heroics on day four.

England were fighting to keep the first Test alive after a double strike from Jasprit Bumrah tightened India’s hold on day three in Hyderabad.

Faced with the unenviable task of overturning a 190-run first-innings deficit, the tourists reached 172 for five at tea, with Ollie Pope unbeaten on 67.

Bumrah took the lead with a magical spell of pace bowling on a pitch that has largely rendered the seamers as an afterthought, removing the fluent Ben Duckett and key man Joe Root.

Pairing speed through the air with devilish reverse swing he sent Duckett’s off-stump flying for 47 and then trapped Root lbw for just two to reassert India’s strong position.

England had enjoyed a positive start to the day, taking three quick wickets in the morning session to bowl India out before reaching a promising 113 for one at a lively scoring rate.

Bumrah’s classy intervention knocked the stuffing from their burgeoning counter-attack and when captain Ben Stokes was beautifully bowled by Ravichandran Ashwin late in the afternoon session the net closed further still.

Play began with India on 421 for seven, adding another 15 before losing their remaining wickets without scoring.

Root snapped up two in two balls, Ravindra Jadeja lbw for 87 and Bumrah castled for a golden duck. Rehan Ahmed provided the finishing touch, zipping one low through Axar Patel and ushering the game along to its decisive moment.

Zak Crawley and Duckett made a typically positive start, zoning out the precarious match situation to clear 45 from the deficit despite considerable scoreboard pressure.

After a couple of polite new-ball overs from Bumrah it was spin at both ends and the initial signs were good.

Crawley sent a couple of reverse sweeps to the boundary boards before trying something even more expansive, moving his feet to the pitch and lifting Patel for six down the ground.

He hurried along to 31 in 33 balls but his fun was shut down in the 10th over, Ashwin clipping the outside edge with a precise delivery that nestled in Rohit Sharma’s hands.

Pope started sketchily, busy but uncertain in his movements, while Duckett was poised. Trusting his arsenal of sweeps and reverses he guided the score to 89 for one at lunch, with the hosts’ lead just into three figures.

England continued chipping away until Bumrah returned to the fray early in the afternoon. He should have had Duckett lbw for 39 but saw his appeal shrugged away by the on-field umpire and his captain, who declined to call for DRS.

Undeterred he came again, shaping the ball through the air, through the gap that Duckett’s lavish drive left and violently into the off stump.

Root was next to succumb, beaten on the crease after just six balls and trapped in front. He sent the decision upstairs but found no reprieve.

Pope was still making the odd mistake but he rode his luck and continued scoring briskly as he brought up his first half-century in India at nearly a run-a-ball.

England still needed a big partnership and were unable to find one as the spinners found their rhythm.

Jonny Bairstow was bowled for 10 offering no stroke to Jadeja, mis-reading one that skidded on with the arm, and Stokes saw Ashwin clip the top of off with a ball that snaked past his outside edge.

Zak Crawley was an early casualty as England set about the mammoth task of overturning India’s 190-run lead on day three of the first Test in Hyderabad.

Crawley hurried along to 31 from 33 balls but was first man down when he nicked Ravichandran Ashwin to first slip in the 10th over of England’s second innings.

The tourists took lunch on 89 for one, still 101 behind, with Ben Duckett settling well on 38no.

They started the day by taking the last three Indian wickets for 15 runs as they finished 436 all out in the morning session, Joe Root dismissing Ravindra Jadeja and Jasprit Bumrah with successive deliveries to collect four for 79.

Rehan Ahmed closed the innings when he spun one low through Axar Patel, ushering the game along to a crucial phase as England returned to the crease.

Having been bowled out for 246 inside 65 overs on day one, they knew they would need to do considerably more on a wearing pitch to have a chance of an unlikely success.

Crawley and Duckett made a typically positive start, clearing 45 from the deficit in the face of considerable scoreboard pressure. After two polite overs from Bumrah, it was spin at both ends and the initial signs were good.

Crawley sent a couple of reverse sweeps to the boundary boards before trying something even more expansive, moving his feet to the pitch and lifting Patel for six down the ground. It was a bold beginning but it ended all too quickly, Ashwin clipping the outside edge with a precise delivery that nestled in Rohit Sharma’s hands.

Ollie Pope started sketchily, busy but uncertain in his movements, but Duckett was poised. Trusting his arsenal of sweeps he hit five boundaries as he smothered the turning ball with some style.

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