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India vs England Test: Pope hints at Stokes bowling in Ranchi

Stokes, who is especially effective with the old ball, could be very useful on the pitch which wears an abrasive look to it.
Last Updated 21 February 2024, 20:23 IST

Ranchi: If the visuals during ‘nets’ and Ollie Pope during the Wednesday's press conference are to be trusted, there is every likelihood that Ben Stokes will return to bowling.

This news couldn’t have come at a better time because England are down 1-2 in the five-match series, and the fourth Test in Ranchi will decide the fate of the series. 

Without Stokes chipping in with the ball, England have had to rely on an ageing James Anderson and a rather wayward but quick Mark Wood. Stokes, who is especially effective with the old ball, could be very useful on the pitch which wears an abrasive look to it. 

"There’s definitely a chance but Ben Stokes hasn’t confirmed that he will bowl. Depends on how he pulls up tomorrow," said Pope. 

After his surgery in November, Stokes has taken his time with recovery. He had initially ruled out bowling on this tour, but given his progress, something he admitted to being surprised by after the third Test, he should be comfortable coming on.

On Wednesday, Stokes bowled in the ‘nets’ for the first time since his surgery, and looked good doing it. 

His return would also be useful given Pope’s assessment of the pitch. 

“It’s an interesting pitch,” said Pope. “It won’t necessarily be a belter of a wicket. There are a few cracks, very flakey and it was wet as well when we checked. It would dry if you keep it in the sun, looked a bit crusty, the top layer, one half is good, and the other has a lot of flakey cracks,” he added.

“If it spins from ball one, it would take the pitch out of the equation too. A lot of games start with a flat pitch, it would deteriorate. That kind of gives the team batting first some advantage.” 

The Ranchi surface has historically played low and slow. “At the moment, from the far end, there is a rough outside the right-hander’s off-stump, and from this end, outside the left-hander’s off-stump,” he revealed.

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(Published 21 February 2024, 20:23 IST)

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