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England left ‘nothing out in the field’ as far as Stokes is concerned

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‘Everyone has thrown everything into every Test match here, nothing has been left out on the field and that’s all I will ever ask from them.’ – Ben Stokes, England captain.

England’s captain Ben Stokes (left) interacts with his teammate Mark Wood during the second day of the third Test cricket match against India at the Niranjan Shah Stadium in Rajkot on February 16, 2024. Picture: Punit PARANJPE, AFP

Ben Stokes was proud of his team’s commitment despite suffering his first series defeat since taking over as England Test captain, against India, the 32-year-old said on Monday.

India, who have not lost a Test series on home soil since 2012, grabbed an unassailable 3-1 lead in the series following their five-wicket victory in Ranchi. England’s second-innings collapse left India needing 192 to win but it was no cakewalk for the hosts who slumped to 120/5.

Off-spinner Shoaib Bashir (3/79) led England’s spirited fightback but India could not be denied their third successive victory.

“I think it was a great Test match,” Stokes said at the presentation ceremony.

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“The scoreline says India win by five wickets but I don’t think that gives enough credit to sum up the game as a whole. I’ve been doing this for two years now and my message is always consistent – it’s about your input to the team and don’t worry too much about the output.

“Everyone has thrown everything into every Test match here, nothing has been left out on the field and that’s all I will ever ask from them.”

England won the opening Test in Hyderabad and were competitive in the second in Visakhapatnam as well as in Ranchi.

With Jack Leach suffering a tour-ending knee injury in Hyderabad, England fielded an inexperienced spin attack that included Bashir and Tom Hartley, both of whom made their Test debuts in this series.

“That’s the way I am as a captain – allowing these guys to come into what could be a very intimidating situation against India in a Test match, to treat every ball as an occasion rather than thinking (about) something in the past that can’t be changed,” Stokes said.

“The series has shown a lot of talent, for us and India. I love Test cricket and we’ve seen some young, inexperienced players perform and the future looks bright in this format.”

Four Indian players, including Dhruv Jurel, also made their debuts in the series and home captain Rohit Sharma singled out the wicketkeeper-batter whose 90 and 39 not out in his second Test earned him the player-of-the-match award.

“It has been a very hard-fought series, said Sharma. “To come (out) on the right side after four Tests feels really good.

“Jurel showed solid composure, calmness and has the shots as well. In the second innings he showed a lot of composure and maturity.”

India were in a spot of bother at 120/5 before Jurel shared an unbroken 72-run stand with Shubman Gill to see the hosts home.

Reuters

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