James Anderson might find conditions more to his liking as he bids to join Test cricket’s 700 club when England regroup for their final assignment of the tour of India next week.

England expect Anderson to be available for the fifth Test in Dharamsala, starting on Thursday, despite a sore thigh which limited his involvement on the last day of their five-wicket defeat in Ranchi.

India’s unassailable 3-1 series advantage leaves only pride and World Test Championship points at stake, but one sub-plot centres on England’s record wicket-taker Anderson.

The evergreen 41-year-old has advanced his tally from 690 to 698 in three outings in India, offering England his customary control on slow, low turners that have largely neutralised his wicket-taking threat.

But his attempt to become the third individual, after Sri Lanka’s Muttiah Muralitharan and the late Australian Shane Warne, and first fast bowler to reach 700 Test wickets could be aided in Dharamsala.

The HPCA Stadium in the foothills of the Himalayas is renowned as the best venue for seamers in India and is where the national team often goes to train in preparation for tours of England and Australia.

Temperatures in the area have struggled to get into double figures recently and, although the weather is forecast to improve next week, it is unlikely the mercury will get much above 15 degrees Celsius.

Local officials expect the crisp English-like conditions to play into Anderson’s hands, while a recall for express speedster Mark Wood is also on the cards, with the pitch expected to offer pace and bounce.

If Anderson’s quad injury turns out to be more serious, England could hand Gus Atkinson his Test debut, with Ollie Robinson poised to make way after his unflattering return to competitive action in Ranchi. Ben Stokes could supplement the pace bowlers after stepping up his workload in training recently.

There was plenty of carry and consistent movement seven years ago when the Dharamsala venue staged its only Test as India beat Australia, 18 of 30 wickets from bowlers falling to the spinners.

England are therefore likely to stick with Tom Hartley and Shoaib Bashir as their frontline spin options.

The ground was due to hold another India-Australia contest 12 months ago, but poor outfield conditions led to the Test being shifted to Indore, while the issue reared its head again at last year’s World Cup.

England’s players were cautious about diving in the outfield ahead of a group game against Bangladesh because of the uneven grass coverage and a sandy make-up, leading Jos Buttler to suggest the “integrity of the game” could be compromised.

However, a new drainage system has been installed in an effort to resolve the problem and officials are confident there will be no complaints this time from England, who are due to reassemble as a group on Monday.

Many of the squad are currently in Bangalore on a golfing trip, while Stokes, Wood, Bashir and Ben Foakes, plus the non-golfing members of the backroom staff, are in Chandigarh.

A century last-wicket stand, a top-order collapse and a comedy of errors run out conspired to put Australia in control of the first Test against New Zealand.

Having had the visitors in early trouble on the first day in Wellington, the hosts saw last-wicket pair Cameron Green and Josh Hazlewood frustrate them for much of the morning session.

They then saw their top order blown away and only some counterattacking lower down got them within 204 runs of their visitors.

Having reached his century off the penultimate ball of day one, Green added another 71 runs as he reached a Test-best 174 not out – last man Hazlewood weighing in with 22 as they took the overnight score from 279 for nine to 383.

Mitchell Starc was first to strike in the New Zealand inning as he bowled Tom Latham for five before the hosts lost talismanic batsman Kane Williamson without scoring.

Williamson, who scored seven centuries in his last seven Tests, and Will Young collided in the middle of a quick single and Marnus Labuschagne’s direct hit sent the former captain packing.

Rachin Ravindra followed for a duck as he cut Hazlewood to Nathan Lyon, Young and Daryl Mitchell also departing cheaply to leave New Zealand 29-5.

Glenn Phillips hit a counterattacking 71 off 70 balls alongside Tom Blundell (33) but only Matt Henry’s 42 offered much more resistance, Lyon collecting four for 34 as the hosts were dismissed for 179.

Australia opted against enforcing the follow on and lost Steve Smith without scoring off the third ball, bowled by Tim Southee.

Southee struck again as Labuschagne’s poor run continued, caught behind for two, but Usman Khawaja and Lyon saw Australia through to stumps at 13-2 – a lead of 217.

Cameron Green hit a defiant unbeaten 103 as Australia were restricted to 279 for nine on the opening day of the first Test in New Zealand.

Matt Henry claimed four wickets as the home side’s seam attack took full advantage of a green wicket in Wellington.

Henry claimed the wickets of openers Steve Smith for 31 and Usman Khawaja for 33 as Australia limped to 85 for four, the struggling Marnus Labuschagne and Travis Head both managing just a single.

Mitchell Marsh provided some support to Green, handed the pivotal number four spot after Smith’s elevation to open following the retirement of David Warner, before Henry had him caught behind for 40.

Green hit 16 boundaries, accelerating through the second half of the day with wickets falling regularly at the other end with variable bounce and seam movement making batting difficult.

Nathan Lyon was the last to go when he was caught behind to give Henry his fourth wicket just before stumps.

There was still time for Green to reach his second Test century, moving through the 90s with three boundaries in the day’s final over.

Ben Stokes dismissed suggestions England lack a ruthless edge and expressed pride at how his team have fared in Indian conditions after not being given a “chance in hell” of success.

England succumbed to a first Test series defeat under the leadership of captain Stokes and head coach Brendon McCullum, as India moved into an unassailable 3-1 lead with a five-wicket victory in Ranchi.

India hit back from 177 for seven in reply to 353 to keep the first-innings deficit to 46 then England crumbled from 110 for three to 145 all out on a turning track and could not stop the hosts chasing 192.

The tourists have let slip promising opportunities on several occasions in this series but Stokes is not one for regrets and instead commended Ravichandran Ashwin, Kuldeep Yadav and Ravindra Jadeja for swinging this Test India’s way after they shared all 10 wickets in England’s second innings.

“Everyone goes into the game with their best intentions, when it doesn’t pay off people say we’re not ruthless but when they do, they say we are,” Stokes said. “I don’t really understand the saying.

“We try to do what we think is the best way to win the game. It can be a throwaway comment when people say we’re not ruthless enough. You can say everything is a missed chance when it doesn’t go well.

“When India have a sniff in conditions like that, any team is going to find it hard. When you’ve got three world-class spinners operating in those conditions, you know you’re going to be up against it.

“Nothing is impossible, I wouldn’t say that. But it was nigh-on impossible to operate how we wanted to. Cricket is always skill against skill. On this occasion, their skill was better than ours.”

The chase was far from straightforward for India, who slipped to 120 for five as Joe Root and Tom Hartley snared Yashasvi Jaiswal and Rohit Sharma before Shoaib Bashir claimed a three-wicket haul.

But an unbroken stand of 72 from Shubman Gill (52 not out) and Dhruv Jurel (39no) got India home to dash England’s dream of a series decider in Dharamshala, with the final Test starting on March 7.

India extended a proud winning record at home to 17 successive Test series against an England side who have relied on a rookie spin attack after Jack Leach’s tour-ending injury in the opening match.

“We didn’t have a chance in hell of even competing with India but even that wasn’t an easy win for India and I think they would admit that,” Stokes told the BBC.

He added in his press conference: “We always still felt in the game. Even with 30 runs left we knew that if we went bang-bang, all the pressure was back on India.

“I’m proud of how everyone stuck at their task even if their role was just to be a fielder. That’s what I want from everyone, to never give up because you never know where a game is going to go.

“It’s always disappointing being on the losing team. Obviously we want to win every game we play and win every series.

“You can have it all taken away from you at the click of a finger so why not enjoy every opportunity to play and make sure you are doing it with a smile on your face regardless of what is happening.”

James Anderson bowled a three-over spell but was off the field for much of the fourth day while Ollie Robinson was unused as Stokes stuck with frontline spinners Bashir and Hartley and part-timer Root.

Stokes revealed no risks were taken with Anderson because the 41-year-old was feeling tightness in his quadriceps, having sent down 94 overs in three successive Tests.

“Jimmy’s fine,” Stokes added. “There was no chance he was going to bowl at all in the (rest of the) game.

“You look at risk v reward, there’s not too much reward from Jimmy being out in the field if he’s got a pretty tight quad after playing three back-to-back Test matches in India.”

England’s spinners kept alive hopes of setting up a Dharamshala decider with the fourth Test on a knife edge as India lurched from 84 for none to 100 for three, chasing 192.

India’s propulsion to 40 without loss from eight overs at stumps on day three left them needing a further 152, and Rohit Sharma and Yashasvi Jaiswal found boundaries easy to come by on Monday morning.

But, as the run rate dried up, Joe Root snared Jaiswal for 37 before Tom Hartley nicked off Rohit for 55, with Shoaib Bashir then having Rajat Patidar caught bat-pad as India went to lunch on 118 for three – still needing a further 74 runs to move into an unassailable 3-1 lead in the five-match series.

On a tricky pitch offering turn and uneven bounce, England will remain optimistic they can level things up before heading to the foothills of the Himalayas for the fifth Test, starting on March 7.

Bashir was bullish about England’s prospects of an unlikely win the previous evening, insisting “we’ve got a chance to be heroes” but there was little to crow about early on.

Rohit lofted James Anderson into the stands beyond deep midwicket for six, with even Ben Stokes nodding in admiration, while Jaiswal – the leading run scorer in the series – used conventional and reverse sweeps to take fours off Bashir and Hartley.

But Bashir and Hartley gradually offered more control and when Root came on for one over, he tossed one up to Jaiswal, who was tempted into a big swing but instead miscued to backward point, where a diving Anderson took a fine low catch.

The big fish was Rohit and England’s animated celebrations – particularly Stokes – upon his dismissal told its own tale.

Rohit advanced to Hartley and seemed to be beaten on the outside edge as Ben Foakes whipped off the bails, but it was subsequently found the India captain had got a tickle to the ball.

Seven balls later, the out-of-form Patidar got an inside edge into his pad to Ollie Pope, who took an excellent catch leaping to his right at short-leg, and England were cock-a-hoop.

Harley scuttled one along the ground to Ravindra Jadeja, beating leg stump and rolling away for four byes – India’s first boundary in 11.3 overs. Shubman Gill (18 not out off 62 balls) and Jadeja (3no off 29) went at a trickle but made sure there were no further casualties.

England off-spinner Shoaib Bashir dedicated his maiden five-wicket haul in professional cricket to his late grandfathers as he geared up for one of the biggest days of his embryonic career.

Bashir, at 20 years and 135 days old, became England’s second youngest bowler to claim a Test five-for in just his second appearance in the format and his eighth first-class match.

His five for 119 in the fourth Test against India in Ranchi helped England claim a 46-run lead after the first innings but a batting collapse has left the tourists with much to do to square the series.

While taking time to reflect on a significant moment in his life, Bashir insisted England remained confident after India closed on 40 without loss, chasing 192 to move 3-1 up in the five-match series.

“It was quite emotional – I lost my two granddads about a year-and-a-half ago and they used to just sit and watch Test cricket all the time,” Bashir said.

“Their wish was to see me out on the TV, I know they’re supporting me from up above. It was a very special moment on my journey. Two years ago, I wouldn’t have thought anything like this (would happen) but that was really special.

“I know I (still) have a job to do and me and Tom (Hartley) are really excited for the challenge.

“We know us two lads are up against a world-class (India) attack but we’ve got a chance to be heroes.

“That pitch is deteriorating quite a bit now. We saw some pop from a good length and some roll. That’s good signs for us.”

England’s approach has been characterised by relentless optimism but they surrendered pole position in the penultimate contest after succumbing to a trial by spin on a turning pitch offering uneven bounce.

Ravichandran Ashwin averaged nearly 39 with the ball in the series before this third day but claimed five for 51, while fellow spinner Kuldeep Yadav was just as impressive as he took four for 22.

Zak Crawley’s dismissal for 60 was the start of England crumbling from 110 for three to 145 all out, having earlier let India add 130 for their last three wickets, led by Dhruv Jurel’s excellent 90.

Bashir, though, was predictably upbeat about England’s chances, despite India openers Rohit Sharma and Yashasvi Jaiswal going at five an over in the half hour before stumps to leave just 152 more to win.

“India played well; Jurel batted really well towards the end. He probably scored a few more runs than we would have liked but we’re going to bowl them out (on Monday),” Bashir said.

“The pitch is deteriorating massively so anything can happen. It’s 10 chances to take 10 wickets. We saw how Ashwin and (Ravindra) Jadeja bowled on that wicket and we take huge confidence from that.”

Jurel was put down on 59 by Ollie Robinson, who let a head-high chance burst through his fingers, and added another 31 before Hartley spun one sharply past his outside edge and disturbed the stumps.

Jurel marshalling the bowlers in his second Test – sharing important partnerships of 76 with Kuldeep and 40 with Akash Deep – was compared to Mahendra Singh Dhoni by another India great, Sunil Gavaskar.

“It feels great if a legend like Gavaskar gives a compliment like that,” Jurel said.

“I don’t regret a bit on missing (out on) the hundred. It’s my debut Test series, it’s always a childhood dream to play for India in Tests.”

England succumbed to their trial by spin as India were left 192 to win the fourth Test and the series following Ravichandran Ashwin’s five-wicket haul.

After India turned an overnight 219 for seven into 307 all out, whittling a first-innings deficit down to 46, Ashwin’s five for 51 and Kuldeep Yadav’s four for 22 led to England being skittled for 145.

Zak Crawley top-scored with 60, but his dismissal marked the start of England’s collapse from 110 for three on the third afternoon on a pitch offering significant turn and uneven bounce.

England, trailing 2-1 in the five-match series, were unable to make a breakthrough in the last half hour as they try to force a decider in Dharamshala next month, with India closing on 40 without loss.

Joe Root and Tom Hartley shared the new ball and Shoaib Bashir, who earlier became the second youngest English men’s bowler to take a Test five-wicket haul in just his eighth first-class appearance, had an over and it is likely the trio will have plenty of work to do to prevent an England defeat on day four.

The tourists are not out of it, but may end up ruing Ollie Robinson dropping Dhruv Jurel on 59, with the wicketkeeper making 90 to lead India’s recovery from 177 for seven the previous evening.

There was more DRS controversy as Joe Root was given lbw on review, with former England captain Michael Vaughan suggesting on social media enough of Ashwin’s delivery had pitched outside leg-stump.

But England’s batters were outfoxed by India’s vaunted spinners, with Rohit Sharma turning immediately to Ashwin in the second innings despite an underwhelming series beforehand, averaging nearly 39.

Ashwin, though, is a master of these conditions and bagged his 350th and 351st Test wickets in India from successive deliveries to set the hares running.

Ben Duckett was first persuaded into a defensive push to short-leg on 15 then Ollie Pope got into a tangle as he misjudged the length and was leg-before for a golden duck and a three-ball pair in the Test.

Crawley negotiated the hat-trick ball and settled into some rhythm with three cover drives for four in four deliveries when India’s premier spinner over-pitched, but a blossoming stand with Root ended on 46 when the Yorkshireman missed a flick after helping to stretch England’s lead to three figures.

There was some suspicion most of Ashwin’s delivery from round the wicket had landed outside leg, but India’s review returned three reds and first-innings centurion Root was on his way for 11, despite scepticism on social media about the result technology returned.

Jonny Bairstow was punchy early on and Crawley moved to a third fifty of the series, but India still had one more trump card in Kuldeep, who followed up an obdurate 28 off 131 balls by ransacking England’s batting.

Crawley’s fourth ball against the left-arm wrist-spinner turned lavishly through the gate and clattered middle stump, while Ben Stokes made a chancy four off 13 balls before meeting the same fate.

Stokes was first struck on the back leg by a scuttler and initially seemed oblivious as to why India were celebrating but threw his head back and grinned wryly after turning round and seeing the bails on the ground.

When Bairstow tamely punched the first ball after tea to cover off Ravindra Jadeja to depart for 30, England had lost three wickets for 10 runs in 31 balls, leaving Ben Foakes to bat with the bowlers.

Robinson’s dismal day continued as he was twice struck on the pad by Kuldeep, overturning one lbw verdict but not the other and out for a three-ball duck, before Foakes and Bashir dug in.

The pair put on 12 in 74 balls, but Foakes chipped back to Ashwin, who had his first five-for of the series when James Anderson got a tickle to a reverse sweep.

Bashir earlier bagged the one scalp he needed for a first five-wicket haul in any form of professional cricket in just his second Test after snaring Akash Deep and the 20-year-old should have accounted for Jurel, only for the ball to burst through Robinson’s hands at midwicket.

Tom Hartley gave an indication of what was to come by turning one sharply past Jurel’s bat and castling him on the stroke of lunch, but England had allowed India to add a princely 130 for the last three wickets.

Shoaib Bashir claimed a maiden five-wicket haul in any form of professional cricket, but England were met with resistance in Ranchi.

India turned an overnight 219 for seven into 307 all out on the third morning of the fourth Test, largely thanks to Dhruv Jurel moving from 30 to 90 before he was last man out on the stroke of lunch.

Tom Hartley spun one past a defensive push to leave India trailing by 46 after Bashir bagged the one wicket he needed for a first five-for in just his eighth first-class appearance and second Test.

Bashir, who finished with five for 119, might have had the milestone sooner, but Ollie Robinson spilled Jurel when he was on 59.

It was a difficult morning for Robinson as he was again down on pace, while the seamer sent down a further three no-balls, taking his tally to six on his first competitive appearance since last summer, with an extended absence perhaps contributing to a lack of rhythm.

It was left to James Anderson to make the breakthrough for Test wicket 698, although there was an element of fortune as Kuldeep Yadav defended on to his front foot and the ball rolled back on to off-stump.

Kuldeep leaned on his bat then began a slow trudge off, clearly distraught at his downfall for 28, having soaked up 131 deliveries, following in a handy 76-run stand alongside Jurel.

India did not fall apart at the back end as England had done 24 hours earlier as he shared a princely 40 with Akash Deep.

Jurel scored 31 of them, hammering Bashir for two meaty sixes after Robinson spilled a chance above his head, with the ball bursting through his hands.

Deep briefly got into the act but then got in a tangle against Bashir, rapped on the back pad and given lbw, with England getting their fourth umpire’s call of the innings.

Hartley ended Jurel’s counter-attack in the final over before lunch but it was India’s session with their last three wickets adding 130 to make sure they did not face a significant first-innings deficit.

England batter Zak Crawley hailed Joe Root’s spectacular return to form after the Yorkshire star hit an unbeaten 106 to leave his side in a strong position at stumps on the first day of the fourth Test against India in Ranchi.

Having averaged 12.83 after his first three matches of the series, Root produced a superb performance, including a 113-run stand with Ben Foakes, which Crawley believes rubber-stamped his team-mate as one of the best batters in his country’s history.

Crawley told TNT Sports: “We’re so happy for him and we never doubted him. If anything we know that when he’s got a couple of low scores he’s even more likely to get the big one, and we expected that from him.

“He’s phenomenal, and he’s one of, if not the best we’ve ever had playing for England.”

England initially struggled on an unpredictable pitch with Crawley bowled by Akash Deep on 42, but the opener praised the way the tourists hit back to reach 302 for seven at close.

Jonny Bairstow made a rapid 38 while Foakes contributed a steady 47 to his stand with Root. Ollie Robinson also finished the day unbeaten on 31.

Crawley added: “It was tricky early on with the ball nipping around a lot and we had to throw a couple of punches back, which I think myself and Jonny did well.

“I was trying to bat normally at the start but it was so difficult – I just felt like there was one with my name on eventually. I thought I’d throw something back and I did start to feel a bit more comfortable after that.

“The boys played unbelievably in the middle session and then Joe got very good support from Tom (Hartley) and Ollie as well.

“I said beforehand that if we get 280 to 300, we’re in a very good position so I stand by that – we are ahead of the game.”

Joe Root defied an unpredictable pitch to make a timely return to form as a risk-free unbeaten century stabilised England on a seesaw opening day of the fourth Test against India in Ranchi.

On a cracked surface offering significant early assistance for India’s bowlers, Ben Stokes’ dismissal to a Ravindra Jadeja grubber left England on 112 for five at lunch after debutant Akash Deep’s three-wicket haul.

But Root, averaging 12.83 after the first three matches, ended his lean patch with a battling 106 not out, which included a 113-run stand with Ben Foakes, as England went to stumps on 302 for seven.

What was striking about Root’s 31st Test hundred, brought up off 219 balls, was its orthodoxy following criticism for some unconventional dismissals recently – especially his reverse ramp in Rajkot last week, which was a sliding doors moment in England slipping 2-1 down in the five-match series.

Whether he is suited to England’s ‘Bazball’ approach has been the subject of much debate in the last few days but Root showed the virtue of patience here.

There were some sweetly-timed drives through the covers as well as his characteristic late cuts and shots square of the wicket as the Yorkshireman registered the slowest ton of the Stokes and Brendon McCullum era.

Root has given England a fighting chance after Deep ensured the rested Jasprit Bumrah was not missed at first, exploiting the variable bounce that was a theme throughout the day and some early movement.

Stokes had no hesitation in batting, as is customary upon winning the toss in India, despite wariness over a track he described as “interesting”. What followed was a helter-skelter opening session as England went at 4.63 an over and lost five wickets, while two of India’s five reviews were successful.

England’s openers were routinely beaten on the outside edge and Zak Crawley had his off stump uprooted on four but it was found Deep had over-stepped. Deep did not have long to wait for a maiden Test wicket, though, as a searching delivery nipped away and grazed Ben Duckett’s outside edge on 11.

Ollie Pope lasted two deliveries as India overturned a not out leg-before verdict and an eventful over saw Root survive the hosts’ review for lbw first ball after getting fractionally outside the line of off stump.

Crawley then Jonny Bairstow counter-attacked, with both finding success against the expensive Mohammed Siraj.

But Crawley departed for a run-a-ball 42 when Deep’s in-ducker snaked through the gate and kissed the off bail, while Bairstow was lbw on review for 38 after missing a slog sweep off Ravichandran Ashwin, who claimed his 100th Test wicket against England.

The tourists’ cause worsened on the stroke of lunch when Stokes was lbw to an ankle-high shooter from Jadeja, the England captain throwing his head back and laughing ruefully as he began to trudge off before the umpire had raised his finger.

A frenetic morning gave way to a sedate afternoon as Root and Foakes settled for steady accumulation. The pitch did not have as many demons upon the resumption and while the odd one kept low, the English pair were alert to the danger.

There were just seven boundaries between lunch and tea after 13 fours and two sixes in the opening session but India’s often poor ground fielding allowed Root and Foakes to regularly rotate the strike.

Root went seamlessly to his first fifty in seven innings, after which Foakes, whose first boundary came with a drive off Kuldeep Yadav from his 66th ball, pushed the accelerator by taking 18 off an Ashwin over, including a big blow over the leg-side for six.

Foakes fell three short of a fifty after tamely chipping to midwicket, ending a 113-run stand with Root, while Siraj had his second wicket by knocking back the off-stump of Tom Hartley for 13.

Root, whose first and only reverse sweep came when he was on 76, kept going and moved to three figures with drive through the covers off Deep for his ninth four.

He celebrated the milestone in understated fashion by kissing the badge on his helmet and raising his bat as his team-mates, led by a grinning Stokes, celebrated enthusiastically on the balcony.

Root shared an unbroken 57 with Ollie Robinson, who should have been out on eight but India had burned their reviews. Instead Robinson, making his first appearance of the series, contributed 31 not out, taking England past 300 with a dismissive swipe for four off Yashasvi Jaiswal’s last over of the day.

Joe Root made a timely return to form as he and Ben Foakes defied an unpredictable pitch to stabilise England after a frenetic start to the fourth Test against India in Ranchi.

On a cracked surface offering significant assistance for India’s bowlers, Ben Stokes’ dismissal to a Ravindra Jadeja grubber left England on 112 for five after debutant Akash Deep’s three-wicket haul.

But Root registered his first fifty in seven innings – dating back to last summer’s Ashes – and went to tea on 67 not out out of England’s 198 for five, with Foakes unbeaten on 28 in an unbroken stand of 86.

Root received criticism for his first-innings dismissal in Rajkot which was a sliding doors moment in England’s heavy defeat, and the Yorkshireman put away his reverse ramps and settled for a more patient, orthodox approach to blunt India’s quicks and spinners.

Conditions eased in the second session after England’s top-order was given a stiff working over, with Stokes electing to bat despite describing the surface as “interesting” and “like nothing I’ve ever seen before” this week in a series his side currently trail 2-1.

As well as uneven bounce, Crawley and Ben Duckett had to contend with sideways movement and the openers were beaten on the outside edge more than once. Crawley then had a major reprieve when his off stump was sent cartwheeling by an in-ducker but Deep’s overstep briefly denied him a maiden Test wicket.

Having taken just four off his first 16 balls, he took 28 off his next 16 after driving and twice clipping for three successive fours before a monstrous six off the expensive Siraj.

Duckett, though, feathered behind after being done on the angle from Akash Deep, who then had Ollie Pope lbw two balls later despite England’s number three advancing down the pitch. An India review was successful and they also queried a not out decision when Root was struck on the pad first ball.

Root had managed to get just outside the line but England were three down as Deep atoned for his no-ball by clipping the top of Crawley’s off-stump for a run-a-ball 42.

The out-of-form Jonny Bairstow, averaging 17 in this series, was purposeful and especially fluent against Siraj, late-cutting the seamer for four then crunching two more boundaries in his next over. When Bairstow slog swept Ravichandran Ashwin for six, it appeared it would be the Yorkshireman’s day.

However, Ashwin tempted Bairstow (38) into another slog sweep which he missed. Umpire Rod Tucker was unmoved by an lbw appeal but another review vindicated India and Ashwin had his 100th wicket against England.

England’s cause worsened on the stroke of lunch when Ben Stokes was leg-before to an ankle-high shooter from Jadeja, the England captain trudging off even before the umpire raised his finger.

A frenzied morning gave way to a more sedate start to the afternoon, with Root and Foakes settling for steady accumulation as Jadeja and Ashwin operated in tandem. There were 13 fours and two sixes in the morning but England did not get a boundary until the 82nd ball of the second session.

Root was particularly strong behind square on both sides of the wicket, judicious on front and back foot, although both he and Foakes – whose first four came off his 66th ball – were kept honest by the odd one keeping low.

After Root moved to a 108-ball fifty, India burned their final review on a frivolous lbw appeal off Foakes as the England pair batted out a wicketless session.

England lost five wickets in an eventful first session of the fourth Test as India seamer Akash Deep took centre stage on a pitch in Ranchi already showing signs of uneven bounce.

How India would fare without the rested Jasprit Bumrah was answered emphatically by Deep, who bowled Zak Crawley with a no-ball then snared Ben Duckett and Ollie Pope within the space of three deliveries.

Crawley was dismissed for a run-a-ball 42 after Deep clipped the top of his off-stump and while Jonny Bairstow led a brief counter-attack, he was dismissed for 38 off 35 balls by Ravichandran Ashwin.

The tourists’ cause then worsened on the stroke of lunch when Ben Stokes was lbw to an ankle-high shooter from Ravindra Jadeja, the England captain walking off even before the umpire raised his finger as his side ended the session on 112 for five.

Stokes described a cracked, crumbly surface as “interesting” and “like nothing I’ve ever seen before” this week but he elected to bat first and his top-order was given a stiff working over.

Both Crawley and Duckett were beaten on the outside edge several times by Deep and Mohammed Siraj, as England made a tentative start just a few days after falling 2-1 behind the series following a heavy defeat in Rajkot last week.

Crawley’s off-stump was sent cartwheeling but he was called back after Deep had overstepped the front line. Having taken just four off his first 16 balls, he took 28 off his next 16 after driving and twice clipping for three successive fours before a monstrous six off Siraj.

India turned to Ravindra Jadeja’s left-arm spin in the ninth over but they persisted with the probing Deep, who snared Duckett for 11 with a good length delivery which nipped away a fraction and grazed the outside edge.

Ollie Pope’s attempt to negate the movement was unsuccessful as he lasted two balls. Despite getting nearly three metres out in front he was rapped on the pads by Deep and India successfully reviewed the not out decision.

Deep ended a lively first hour by castling Crawley again – a near-identical delivery to his no-ball earlier – but this time, there was no reprieve for the England opener.

The out-of-form Bairstow, averaging 17 in this series, was purposeful and especially fluent against Siraj, late-cutting the seamer for four then crunching two more boundaries in his next over. When Bairstow slog swept Ravichandran Ashwin for six, it appeared it would be the Yorkshireman’s day.

However, Ashwin continued round the wicket and tempted Bairstow into another slog sweep which he missed. Umpire Rod Tucker was unmoved by India’s lbw appeal but another review vindicated the hosts.

England will be without Rehan Ahmed for the rest of their tour of India as the teenage leg-spinner is set to return home because of an urgent family matter.

The 19-year-old featured in the first three Tests but was left out of the penultimate contest in Ranchi as England selected slow left-armer Tom Hartley and off-break bowler Shoaib Bashir as their spinners.

The tourists do not intend to draft in a replacement for Ahmed, despite being left with 14 players for the final Test in Dharamshala in a fortnight and two frontline spinners in Hartley and Bashir.

A brief statement from the England and Wales Cricket Board said: “Rehan Ahmed will return home for personal reasons with immediate effect from England men’s Test tour of India.

“He will not be returning to India. England will not be replacing Ahmed for the rest of the tour.”

Ahmed, England’s youngest senior cricketer in all three formats, has taken 11 wickets in the series at an average of 44, including six dismissals in the second Test in Visakhapatnam.

Rehan featured in Rajkot last week despite a visa problem in the build-up. He was given a temporary two-day visa before the issue was resolved and was praised for how he handled the situation by Stokes.

“The great thing about youth is they just take everything in their stride,” Stokes said last week. “He handled a situation that could have affected quite a lot of people in a different way very, very well.”

Middle-order batter Harry Brook withdrew ahead of the series because of personal reasons while left-arm spinner Jack Leach pulled out of the tour because of a knee injury sustained in the first Test.

India have also had to contend with a high-profile withdrawal in star batter Virat Kohli due to personal reasons, and injuries have deprived them of Mohammed Shami and Rishabh Pant.

England have drafted in seamer Ollie Robinson and off-spinner Shoaib Bashir for their must-win fourth Test against India in Ranchi.

Fast bowler Mark Wood drops out after an onerous workload in the third-Test defeat in Ranchi, where he bowled mainly in sweltering conditions, while leg-spinner Rehan Ahmed has also been omitted.

Robinson is set for his first appearance of the series while Bashir returns after taking four wickets on his England debut in the second Test in Visakhapatnam earlier this month.

England trail 2-1 in the five-match series.

England vice-captain Ollie Pope has described the pitch for the fourth Test in Ranchi as “interesting” but believes this may favour the tourists after back-to-back defeats by India.

The playing surface in the Jharkhand capital 48 hours out from the first day of the penultimate match has cracks running down one side of the cut strip and was watered on Wednesday morning before being briefly left to bake under the sun.

A crusted top layer formed before the area was covered – all of which suggests some balls may explode off the ground and spinners from both sides are likely to be involved from the off.

India hold a 2-1 lead on pitches that have generally been slow turners, with the team that has won the toss coming out on top on all three occasions, but England are gearing up for lavish spin this week.

“It looks an interesting pitch,” Pope said. “It doesn’t necessarily look like a belting wicket at the moment. It kind of looks like one half is good and there’s a lot of cracks (on the other half).”

Pope, though, insisted this does not faze England, who are likely to go back to their policy of selecting one front-line seamer to bowl alongside three spinners that they had in the first two Tests.

That suggests either or both of James Anderson and Mark Wood dropping out, with Ollie Robinson in the frame for the first time in the series, and Tom Hartley, Rehan Ahmed and Shoaib Bashir as the spinners.

“If that does a fair bit like we expect it to having looked at it, it definitely brings us into the game,” Pope said. “If it does spin from ball one, I guess it’s an even playing field.

“We have got some young spinners but I think they’ve bowled well on some pretty good surfaces as well so it definitely brings some wicket-taking opportunities into the game.

“It takes the toss a little bit out of it as well. When the ball’s doing more, your best bet is trying to hit the bowler off his length and try and get him to not bowl where he wants to bowl every ball.”

The return of Ben Stokes as a fully fledged all-rounder is gathering more momentum, with the England captain having an extended bowling session at the batters in the nets without any apparent discomfort.

He was seen briefly speaking to team doctor Glen Rae after he had stopped, raising the prospect of Stokes bowling competitively this week for the first time since last year’s Lord’s Ashes Test.

Stokes had surgery on his left knee in November, with stitches in his meniscus and a big bone spur removed, but had made a “pinky promise” to England’s physiotherapist he would not bowl on this tour.

But Stokes revealed after England’s 434-run defeat in Rajkot he was further along in his progress than was initially suspected to be the case and bowling at optimum level.

“There’s definitely a chance,” Pope, England’s vice-captain, said. “He’s not confirmed it even in the changing room, so we will see. We’ll see how he pulls up, and if that’s good hopefully we will see him with the ball in hand in the game.

“If he’s got full confidence in his knee, I guess you’ve got to trust the medical advice and trust his opinions as well. If he needs a bit of guidance on the pitch then I can be someone to lean on.”

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