India v England: second Test, day four – live

Key events

“Here in Thailand, we feel that this match is finally coming to life after 3.5 days of humdrum Bazball that’s failed to keep us awake after 7pm local time,” writes Tim Finney. “Stage is now set for a Stokes/Foakes/Woakes (ignore that last one) victory charge, with Hartley the most likely scorer of the winning run an hour after tea. Before we embark on a celebratory arm wrestle with the local stingrays, who generally win (like India).”

MCC Women do the Cresta Run!

“It is 5am, and I have just woken up in Switzerland’s St Moritz,” wrote my colleague Emma John a couple of hours ago, when there was far too much going on for me to process a long email. “I am with a group of women cricketers who are making history today by becoming the first all-female team to compete in the Cresta Run’s Inter Club Challenge. Yes – that Cresta Run. The one David Gower did. The one where you slide head first down 3-4 miles of ice in 40 seconds, on the tobogganing equivalent of a very heavy tea tray.

“Anyway, this entirely self-funded team is here to raise money for the girls and women’s cricket projects run by the MCC Foundation in Nepal and South Africa and we would love people to sponsor us. It feels an appropriate cause given that women were banned from the Cresta Run til 2018…

“The Cresta Run is so dangerous that you need to have two days of training before you’re allowed to race. Ours starts in just over an hour’s time with the notorious ‘death talk’, which is where the instructors tell you all the different ways you can maim and injure. Apparently we should be comforted that ‘only’ five people have died on the Run in its 139-year history…”

Good luck to one and all. If you’d like to donate, because you’re high on life after that wonderful session or just an innately good person with a healthy disposable income, you can do so here.

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My head is spinning. There was so much going on in that session, from Joe Root’s skittish innings to Ravi Shastri’s repeated declarations of love for Zak Crawley. The biggest moments, and there were a few, was Rohit Sharma’s marvellous reaction catch to dismiss Ollie Pope, who had been hitting boundaries at will.

For most the session England were right in the game – 132 for two, then 194 for four – but those two late wickets have settled it.And while this blog is inevitable Anglocentric, we should say that India did so well to hold their nerve – and maintain their sanity – in the face of a ceaseless assault from England. With the possible exception of Australia, any other team in the world would have wilted.

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The wicket means that’s the last ball of a pulsating morning. It was subtle at times, pugilistic at others, and it ended – like all the best sessions – with an affronted Jonny Bairstow giving somebody a mouthful.

There were 127 runs and five wickets in 25.4 overs. England played brilliantly, they really did, but you can only defy this marvellous Indian attack for so long in the fourth innings. Gravity always wins.

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WICKET! England 194-6 (Bairstow LBW b Bumrah 26)

That’s the game! Bumrah wins the battle of the JBs, trapping Bairstow in front with a nipbacker. Ashwin celebrates in front of Bairstow, who tells him where to go.

Bairstow reviews, just in case, but deep down he knows. It was umpire’s call on height, so not quite as plumb as I thought, but still palpably out.

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42nd over: England 194-5 (Bairstow 26, Stokes 0) The timing of India’s wickets has been exemplary. Every time England threaten to get in front, India pull them back in.

India celebrate wildly, which shows how much they fear Crawley. He made a brilliant 73, an innings of class, patience and admirable shot selection, but he’s gone now. The England balcony are all gawping at replays, clearly not convinced. It looked out to me, both live and on replay, although it was close to umpire’s call when it hit leg stump. On TNT Sports, Sir Alastair Cook says it “didn’t look right”.

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WICKET! England 194-5 (Crawley LBW b Kuldeep 73)

He’s gone!

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INDIA REVIEW FOR LBW AGAINST CRAWLEY! A double bowling change, with Kuldeep Yadav on for Axar Patel. Crawley has just been compared to Kevin Pietersen by an increasingly smitten Ravi Shastri – but he might be gone now! He whipped across the line and was hit on the pad in front of leg stump. Marais Erasmus said not out and India went upstairs. Crawley looks very sheepish. I reckon this is out.

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41st over: England 192-4 (Crawley 72, Bairstow 25) Bumrah has two slips and a gully for Bairstow, who drives two terrific boundaries – one through extra cover, one square. Bairstow has looked in brilliant touch in this series, which makes his run of nothing scores (37, 10, 25, 21*) even more frustrating. England would sacrifice a year’s worth of positive vibes for a matchwinning hundred from Bairstow today. He was the one who started all this fourth-innings insanity at Trent Bridge in 2022.

“Looking at the scorecard, England aren’t even halfway there yet,” says Gary Naylor. “On the other hand, ENGLAND ARE NEARLY HALFWAY THERE ALREADY! This is what Bazball has done to us. No wonder Joe Root can’t think straight.”

Of all the miracles of Bazball, getting Gary Naylor to inadvertently referecne Bon Jovi is right up there.

40th over: England 184-4 (Crawley 72, Bairstow 17) A maiden from Axar to Crawley. And now, with 18 minutes to go to lunch, Rohit Sharma invites Jasprit Bumrah to end all this nonsense.

39th over: England 184-4 (Crawley 72, Bairstow 17) Crawley dances down to drive Ashwin through mid-off for four, another beautiful shot. He’s supposed to be Mr Inconsistent but he has now reached 20 in his last nine innings: 33, 44, 189, 22, 73, 20, 31, 76, 71*.

Meanwhile Bairstow, who is looking better after a nervous first 10 balls, punches Ashwin off the back foot to the cover boundary. Honestly, this is the most brilliant cricket from both teams.

“Harking back to the first Test (and a bit of this game) re Tom Hartley lookalikes,” says Dale Webster. “I can’t put my finger on it but Axar Patel reminds me of Daniil Medvedev.”

Yeah I can see that. I think it’s to do with the contours of the face, and if it wasn’t for this pesky all-action cricket I’d Photoshop a side-by-side comparison.

38th over: England 175-4 (Crawley 67, Bairstow 13) Crawley is beaten by a jaffa from Axar that bounces just over off stump. His roundarm angle makes him so dangerous on pitches where only some balls turn.

“Root’s wicket clinches it,” says Andrew Crossley. “I’ll be off to bed at lunchtime. Has been fun thinking a ridiculous win was actually possible, though.”

37th over: England 174-4 (Crawley 66, Bairstow 13) Crawley sweeps Ashwin for a couple and scrunches a single to long on. The boundaries have dried up for Crawley – his last was in the 26th over – but there’s no sign of him getting impatient.

Bairstow does get a boundary, sweeping brusquely through square leg.

36th over: England 167-4 (Crawley 63, Bairstow 9) The spinners are getting through the overs so quickly that it’s hard to keep up. It’s been a blistering morning session: 22 overs, 100 runs, three wickets.

35th over: England 165-4 (Crawley 61, Bairstow 9) Crawley survives a stumping referral after playing and missing at Ashwin, who is all over England. Crawley flicks not far wide of short leg for a single, then Bairstow is beaten outside off.

This is what Ashwin does, particularly in India. Of the nine bowlers with 500 Test wickets (come on, it’s in the post), only Ashwin has taken more than half his wickets in home victories: 272 at an average of 17.80, which is 55 per cent. Even Muttiah Muralitharan managed only 38 per cent.

34th over: England 165-4 (Crawley 61, Bairstow 9) Bairstow plays a lovely, languid cover drive for four off Axar, who responds with a jaffa that somehow misses both the edge and the off stump. England are going down in a blaze of boundaries: they’ve hit 26 fours and two sixes in just 34 overs.

33rd over: England 156-4 (Crawley 60, Bairstow 1) At some point in the next few minutes/hours, Ravichandran Ashwin will become the ninth man to take 500 Test wickets. The phrase “elite club” doesn’t really do it justice: Muttiah Muralitharan, Shane Warne, Jimmy Anderson, Anil Kumble, Stuart Broad, Glenn McGrath, Courtney Walsh, Nathan Lyon.

Bairstow is struggling against Ashwin, who continues around the wicket to the right-handers. He tries to cut and is beaten, then inside-edges onto the body. A maiden.

It’s been a superb half hour for Rohit Sharma. He took a blinder to dismiss Ollie Pope, and his decision to keep mid-on up directly contributed to Joe Root’s wicket.

32nd over: England 155-4 (Crawley 60, Bairstow 1) Two from Axar’s over. Mercy.

31st over: England 154-4 (Crawley 59, Bairstow 0) This game is moving at dizzying speed.

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The remarkable Ravichandran Ashwin moves to 499 Test wickets. Root came down the track, was done in the flight and sliced the ball high to Axar Patel at short third man. It was an ugly shot, an off-balance swipe across the line, to end an unusually skittish knock of 16 in 10 balls. Maybe Root’s finger wasn’t up to a longer, more orthodox innings.

Let’s take the positives: at least Bumrah didn’t get him again.

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WICKET! England 154-4 (Root c Axar b Ashwin 16)

No need for the third umpire this time: Root has gone!

Root is not out! It was much closer than I thought, though: pad first and umpire’s call on the point of contact. Oof.

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30th over: England 140-3 (Crawley 55, Root 13) Root charges Axar and muscles a drive over mid-off for six. Whether it’s because of a dodgy finger or just a tactical decision, he has come out swinging.

India review for LBW against Root off the final ball of the over, though I’m pretty sure it’s outside the line. Might have been an inside-edge as well.

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29th over: England 140-3 (Crawley 53, Root 8) Root reverse-sweeps his first and third balls for four. The first was smooth and stylish, the second gloved just over slip. I have no idea what kind of Test cricket this is, but it’s positively amphetaminic to watch. I can’t remember the last time I felt so awake at 5am.


That was the last act of a breathless, brilliant first hour. Joe Root is the new batsman; we’ll soon find out what state his finger is in.

Rohit’s defensive captaincy has been criticised this morning but he has changed the mood of the match, maybe the series, with a piece of fielding that is probably going viral as we speak. Pope tried to force Ashwin off the back foot and edged towards slip, where Rohit took a stunning reaction catch to his left before throwing his arms out in celebration. He is rarely so demonstrative, but he knows how important that wicket is likely to be. Pope was looking so dangerous.

WICKET! England 132-3 (Pope c Rohit b Ashwin 23)

What a catch from Rohit Sharma!

28th over: England 132-2 (Crawley 53, Pope 23) Look, it probably won’t last, and for all we know the apocalypse could be imminent, but right now England are batting brilliantly. Pope dances down to clip Patel through midwicket for four, a courageous and superbly placed stroke. He has 23 from 19 balls, Crawley 53 from 92.

27th over: England 126-2 (Crawley 52, Pope 18) “Whisper it quietly but Zak Crawley looks like he has got his game face on here,” says Brian Withington. “He’s playing the magnificent Bumrah indecently well. Wicket looking sporting mind…”

Crawley is England’s best player of high pace, isn’t he? He treated Pat Cummins like a net bowler during the Ashes, and is one of the few players in cricket history who would probably prefer to face Marshall, Holding and Garner than Larsen, Harris and Latham.

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26th over: England 125-2 (Crawley 51, Pope 18) Crawley, on the charge, lofts Axar back over his head for four to reach a stately half-century from 83 balls. Ravi Shastri, commentating on TNT Sports, is positively gushing about how good Crawley has become.

England are trying to get as many runs as possible before the pitch deteriorates and/or the ball starts to reverse. Pope sweeps and clips successive boundaries to make it 13 from the over and 58 from 12 overs this morning.

25th over: England 112-2 (Crawley 46, Pope 10) Ashwin replaces Bumrah, who will be back when the ball starts to reverse. He has a huge shout for caught behind turned down when Pope tries to reverse sweep and gets in a tangle. There was an incriminating noise but Rohit Sharma chose not to review. We haven’t yet seen a replay.

24th over: England 109-2 (Crawley 45, Pope 8) Pope, who usually starts frenetically, looks positively serene at the moment. He reverse sweeps Patel for four and defends the rest of the over with confidence– and, crucially after what happens to Rehan, on the front foot.

23rd over: England 105-2 (Crawley 45, Pope 4) Bumrah continues, possibly because Pope has just come to the crease. Crawley is on strike for now, and he clips a stylish boundary through midwicket. He has been, by some distance, England’s best player of Bumrah so far in the series.

This is such a good contest. Bumrah beats Crawley with a bit of low bounce and then stares at him – not menacingly, because he’s far too jaunty a soul for that, but certianly with intent.

“What England win percentage is SmythViz giving?” asks Paul Harrison.

SmythViz was discredited a long time ago when somebody discovered it was the first algorithm to have a built-in pessimism. With that in mind, I reckon about 10 per cent. Et tu?

Rehan was almost outside the line, but it was umpire’s call so he’d have been out anyway.

22nd over: England 99-2 (Crawley 39, Pope 4) Rehan played his role pretty well, though the lead-up to his dismissal was a little ominous for England. He was dropped at slip, a very sharp diving chnce to Rohit from a ball that turned a long way. The next three deliveries all came in with the arm and, more pertinently, all kept low.

The new batter Ollie Pope waves his first ball assertively to the cover boundary.

WICKET! England 95-2 (Rehan LBW b Axar 23)

Rehan’s useful, chaotic cameo ends when he whips around a grubber from Axar and is trapped LBW. He walks straight off without discussing a review, but there’s a small chance he was outside the line.

21st over: England 91-1 (Crawley 39, Rehan 19) Bumrah’s control is endlessly impressive, types your intrepid, bleary-eyed report just before he spears four byes down the leg side. I guess he was going for the yorker.

Two balls later Crawley rifles a thrilling, classical off-drive for four. The ball hasn’t really moved for Bumrah, though you’d expect it to reverse swing in his next spell.

20th over: England 83-1 (Crawley 35, Rehan 19) A fast, thrify over from Axar. These are the moments to cherish, you know. England could easily be bowled out for 180, and if that happens our brains will slowly misremember how the match unfolded. But right now, though India remain strong favourites, there is a delicious tension in Vizag.

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19th over: England 82-1 (Crawley 34, Rehan 19) Shreyas Iyer saves four with a fine stop at gully when Rehan thick-edges Bumrah. Rehan, who has struggled against Bumrah in this series, is beaten later in the over. Another maiden. Never mind the pace, the swing, the set-ups and the unusual action: Bumrah’s control of line and length is endlessly impressive.

“Good luck for today’s OBO stint,” writes Andrew Crossley. “Anything’s possible, even if an India win at some point in the evening session is likeliest.

“My dilemma, as play begins at 9pm Colorado time, is to decide what number of wickets allows me to banish the temptress hope, and go to bed at the almost reasonable 11pm. If it’s only one or two wickets in the morning session, I’ll be sorely tempted to push through to the small hours.

“I might ask Chat GTP, as that seems to be the solution all my students take at the first sign of uncertainty…”

Please do. AI is on course to kill us all by the year 2030. But if anything can make it malfunction, it’s surely the illogicality of Bazball. As for the wickets, trust your instinct. If England are 190 for nine at lunch but Ben Stokes is still at the crease, we all know you’re staying up.

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18th over: England 82-1 (Crawley 34, Rehan 19) Rehan charges Axar and heaves the ball to cow corner for four. It was an ugly stroke but highly effective, and he follows it with a terrific cover drive for four more. India already have a long-on in place for Rehan, which is surely too defensive at this stage.

“Morning Rob!” chirps Martin Wright. “All bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, are we?! Me neither. It’s going to be over today, isn’’t it, one way or t’other?”

Oh aye, probably by tea.

17th over: England 73-1 (Crawley 34, Rehan 10) Crawley is beaten twice by Bumrah. The first was a slightly loose stroke, the second a snorter that kicked from a length. It’s been an immaculate start from Bumrah, who is getting closer and closer to off stump – and to Crawley’s outside edge. After 11 dot balls, Crawley lands his first blow with a thumping drive to the left of mid-off for four. Lovely stroke.

“Greetings from the airport (the only reason I’m up at this unholy hour),” says Eva Maaten. “I am completely amazed how England have managed to make this series, which was flying slight below my radar, so exciting! I’m probably not alone in having had very low expectations, but so far it has been riveting and I’m looking forward to another exciting run chase and close finish.”

16th over: England 69-1 (Crawley 30, Rehan 10) With two right-handers at the crease, Axar Patel starts at the other end. Rehan Ahmed swipes his first ball just short of mid-on, a statement of anarchic intent, and then drags a big heave onto the pad.

15th over: England 67-1 (Crawley 29, Rehan 9) Bumrah with starts a maiden to Crawley, who leaves each of the last five deliveries. One shaped back a little; the rest passed harmlessly outside off stump. Bumrah will work his way in towards off stump as his spell progresses.

The players are out on the field, and Jasprit Bumrah is ready to bowl.

399 to win? Less ‘ave a go.

Mood music (3.55am)

It is a day for strong minds today. Fabulous day in prospect. India need to utilise the early movement that has been so pronounced. India should win this but their body language will be a mirror to their belief.

— Harsha Bhogle (@bhogleharsha) February 5, 2024

Mood music (3.41am)

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At the close of play last night, Shubman Gill said the game was about 70/30 in India’s favour, a throwaway comment which laid bare India’s mental state. I doubt even the most hopeful (and sane) England fan would put their chances to day at 30 per cent. India know they should win this game, almost certainly will, but they have been slightly spooked by England’s escapologists. The life of the mind, eh.

You can understand Gill’s wariness: he is one of three players in this XI who watched England chase 378 at Edgbaston in 2022. (The others are Shreyas Iyer and Jasprit Bumrah, and yes I was also surprised it was only three. Even England only have six survivors from that game. Life moves pretty fast…)

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The highlight of yesterday’s play, with a loving nod to Ben Stokes’ genius in the field, was a charming century from Shubman Gill. Tanya Aldred writes as Gill bats, with an inimitable grace and class, so this is well worth reading.

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All things being equal, England will lose a Test match today. Yet they go into the fourth and final day at Vizag full of optimism that they can make history by chasing a mighty target of 399. Even England supporters, many of whom have been terrified of hope their entire adult lives, are full of the joys.

England will resume on 67 for one, needing a further 332 runs to take an absurd 2-0 lead in the series. The last time India were 2-0 down at home was against Shane Warne, Glenn McGrath and chums in 2004-05. It surely won’t come to that. All logic says they will win comfortably, probably by around 162 runs, especially as Joe Root has a badly injured finger. But Bazball has an injunction against logic.

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