Spinners keep India well in the hunt as England build fourth Test lead

Zak Crawley’s half-century and Jonny Bairstow’s 30 not out helped England up their lead to 166 but India’s spinners continued to drag the tourists back 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 which ensured a first-innings deficit of 46.

England slipped to 19 for two after Ravichandran Ashwin snared Ben Duckett and Ollie Pope with successive balls but Crawley’s 60 off 91 balls, including seven fours, put pressure back on India.

First-innings centurion Joe Root became Ashwin’s third victim, while Crawley and Ben Stokes perished to Kuldeep Yadav’s left-arm wrist-spin before tea, although Bairstow determined knock helped them end the session on 120 for five.

Ashwin, who shared the new ball with fellow spinner Ravindra Jadeja, beat Crawley’s outside edge first up but was soon into his work with two wickets in two deliveries as Duckett pushed to short-leg before Pope misjudged the length and got into a tangle as he was struck on the back pad.

A review stayed with the umpire and Pope trudged off for a golden duck and a three-ball pair in the Test.

Crawley negotiated Ashwin’s hat-trick ball then collected three fours through extra cover in the space of four deliveries when India’s premier spinner overpitched.

England’s lead had stretched into three figures by the time first-innings centurion Joe Root missed a flick and was rapped on the pad by Ashwin, coming round the wicket. The umpire’s suspicion the ball might have pitched outside leg was rebuffed on review and three reds meant Root was on his way.

India England Cricket
Zak Crawley made another fifty (Ajit Solanki/AP)

Bairstow settled by driving his third ball for four off Ashwin in a purposeful start, while Crawley continued to take on Ashwin and Jadeja as he moved to a third fifty of the series.

But India still had one more trump card in Kuldeep, whose fourth ball to Crawley pitched well outside off and spun sharply through the gate before thudding into middle stump.

Jurel missed a stumping after failing to gather cleanly when Bairstow, on 23, had overbalanced. Stokes survived an leg-before referral against Jadeja on umpire’s call and India failed to notice when the England captain was brushed on the pad in the same over. Had they reviewed, Stokes would have been out.

But Kuldeep made sure it was not too costly as he scuttled a delivery on to Stokes’ back pad which trickled back on to the stumps just before tea to the chagrin of the left-hander, who whizzed round to see what happened then threw his head back in despair with a rueful grin.

Stokes would have been hoping for three quick wickets at the start of the day but Jurel and Kuldeep initially thwarted them with a 76-run partnership.

Kuldeep Yadav
India’s spinners made inroads (Ajit Solanki/AP)

James Anderson made 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.

Jurel hammered Shoaib Bashir for two meaty sixes after Ollie Robinson spilled a chance above his head when the India wicketkeeper was on 59, with the ball bursting through his hands.

Akash 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 and the spinner completing his maiden five-wicket haul.

The Somerset man took five for 119 in a marathon 44 overs in just his eighth first-class appearance and second Test.

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.