KL Rahul set to return for Ranchi Test, Ben Stokes close to bowling again | Crickit
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IND vs ENG: KL Rahul set to return for Ranchi Test, Ben Stokes close to bowling again

By, Rajkot
Feb 19, 2024 09:09 AM IST

After missing the second and third Tests, Rahul is likely to return to the middle-order, while the England skipper is eager to start bowling in matches again

KL Rahul is set to return to the middle-order for the fourth Test in Ranchi starting on February 23, after missing the Visakhapatnam and Rajkot matches due to quadriceps and knee issues. “He seems to be good,” India skipper Rohit Sharma said on Sunday.

India's batter KL Rahul plays a shot during the fourth day of the first Test cricket match between India and England, at Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium in Hyderabad, Sunday(PTI)
India's batter KL Rahul plays a shot during the fourth day of the first Test cricket match between India and England, at Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium in Hyderabad, Sunday(PTI)

Rahul has been progressing well from the quad injury suffered in the first Test at Hyderabad. He was on course to return for Rajkot. It was eventually decided that he should sit out as he was only ‘90 percent fit’, as per a BCCI medical bulletin. If Rahul returns, Rajat Patidar, who hasn’t had a big score in his first two Tests, may make way.

India’s 434 run-win at Rajkot is their biggest ever in terms of runs. This, after they had scored 445 and 430 runs in their two innings. That gives an idea of how poor England were with the bat. After being 207/2 at the end of Day 2 to be 319 all out, they were skittled out for 122 in the fourth innings.

It also shows when things go wrong with England’s disruptive present way, they could go horribly wrong. “I thought the game will go to the fifth day,” Sharma said. “We had only 40 overs to bowl today and we thought 130 overs to get them out will be quite comfortable. More than runs, it was how many overs we need to get them out. By no means did I expect that it will get over by this evening.”

India was able to put it past England quickly because the home boy Ravindra Jadeja cast a spell over England. His 13th five-wicket haul came after his first innings 112.

“We’ve seen him over the years. He understands the conditions really well; he knows exactly what the game is and what his game is. Then he goes and does it, backs it up. This is his hometown. More than anyone else, he knows these conditions better," Sharma said.

"If you see the past couple of years, he’s come out and scored some crucial runs for us, whether in India or outside. He’s batting really well, the confidence is there, which is why we thought of sending him up the order (at No.5). With the ball, there’s not much to tell him. My job is to make sure I set the right field.”

Jadeja’s wickets in the second innings and Kuldeep Yadav’s probing spell in the first innings helped India make up for R Ashwin’s absence from most of the match. “When you lose your most experienced bowler, especially in the middle of a Test, it is not easy,” he said. “But family comes first. When we heard the news, there was no second thought in our mind that he should do what he feels is right. He wanted to be with the family, which is the absolutely right thing to do. Good on him to make a way and come here and be part of the team on this day. It shows the character and shows the kind of person he is.”

STOKES MAY BOWL

In what would be a bonus for England, skipper Ben Stokes said he was not ruling out a return to bowl in the next two Tests. Stokes, who underwent knee surgery after the 2023 ODI World Cup, has not bowled in this series, forcing England to play with four bowlers. Stokes has been gradually increasing his bowling workload in training.

“I’m not saying yes, I’m not saying no. I have progressed a lot faster than I thought I would,” he said. “Me being me, I’m always very optimistic about most things. There will be a more detailed chat with the medical team about what workload I have done to pass me off as not being a massive risk. I managed to bowl at 100% in one of the warm-up days here, which made me feel pretty good. I felt like I could have bowled in the game but that would have been stupid. It’s (still) a work in progress.”

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