Gill, Jurel help India clinch Test series against England

India’s Shubman Gill (C) plays a shot during the fourth day of the fourth Test cricket match between India and England at the Jharkhand State Cricket Association (JSCA) Stadium in Ranchi on February 26, 2024. AFP

Shubman Gill and Dhruv Jurel guided India to a series-clinching five-wicket win over England on day four of the fourth Test on Monday.

Chasing 192 for victory, India slipped to 120-5 but Gill (52) and Jurel (39) put on an unbeaten stand of 72 to achieve the target during the second session in Ranchi.

The win gave India an unassailable 3-1 lead in the five-match series after they lost the first Test.

“It’s been a very hard-fought series, so to come on the right side of it feels very good,” India’s skipper Rohit Sharma said.

“A lot of challenges were thrown at us, but we responded.”

It was the first series defeat for captain Ben Stokes and coach Brendon McCullum since they took charge in 2022 and changed England’s fortunes with their attacking philosophy dubbed “Bazball”.

“It was a great Test match, the scoreboard doesn’t give enough credit to the game as a whole, the ebbs and flows,” Stokes said, adding that he “couldn’t be more proud” of his spin bowlers.

“So much credit to our spinners, being exposed to a situation like that at the start of their careers,” Stokes said.

Gill played the anchor in his 124-ball knock as he and Jurel, who made 90 in India’s first innings, staved off a mini-crisis when Shoaib Bashir took two wickets in two balls soon after lunch.

‘Under pressure’

India still needed 72 more but Gill and Jurel rotated the strike coolly to pick off singles before the former raised his fifty with two successive sixes off Bashir.

“We were put under pressure… but Jurel came out and took the pressure off, he saw the situation and played accordingly,” Gill said.

He praised captain Rohit Sharma for his support, saying he “gave us the confidence to go out and play with freedom”.

Jurel hit the winning runs, punching the air and hugging his partner as the Indian dressing room rose to celebrate.

India started the morning strongly with Rohit and Yashasvi Jaiswal extending their overnight 40-run opening stand to 84.

Joe Root made the breakthrough in his first over of the day, as he induced Jaiswal, on 37, to loop a catch to a diving James Anderson at backward point.

Rohit reached his half-century but fell for 55, caught behind by wicketkeeper Ben Foakes off Tom Hartley’s left-arm spin.

He was initially ruled as stumped, but it was later changed to caught behind.

England’s travelling army of fans then erupted when Bashir, who took his maiden five-wicket haul in the first innings, had Rajat Patidar brilliantly caught by Ollie Pope for a duck to leave India 100-3.

After the interval, Bashir silenced the home fans with his twin strikes to give England some hope of an unlikely win.

Ravindra Jadeja slapped a full toss to Jonny Bairstow at mid-wicket and Sarfaraz Khan tickled the next ball to Pope at backward short-leg for a duck, but Jurel survived the hat-trick ball.

England had scored 353 all out in their first innings and led by 46 after India’s 307.

‘We want to win’

Indian spinners Ravichandran Ashwin and Kuldeep Yadav set up the victory after they shared nine second-innings wickets to bundle out England for 145 on day three.

England had recovered from 112-5 in their first innings courtesy of Root’s unbeaten 122.

India were without pace spearhead Jasprit Bumrah, who was rested, but the bowling stood up — including debutant quick Akash Deep, who took three early wickets after England elected to bat.

Anderson reached 698 Test wickets in the match and needs two more to become only the third bowler to 700 after Sri Lanka’s Muttiah Muralitharan (800) and late Australia spin wizard Shane Warne (708).

The fifth and final Test begins on March 7 in the Himalayan hill town of Dharamsala.

“We turn up to every Test thinking we want to win,” Rohit said, adding he was “confident we will put on a good show” for the last match.

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