Cricket-India’s bench strength pleases Rohit, Stokes defends ‘risky’ batting

Cricket – Fifth Test – India v England – Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association Stadium, Dharamshala, India – March 9, 2024 India’s Sarfaraz Khan and Dhruv Jurel lift the trophy and celebrate with teammates after winning the Test series REUTERS/Adnan Abidi

DHARAMSALA – India kept up their enviable home record by completing a 4-1 series victory against England on Saturday, March 9, 2024 and captain Rohit Sharma praised his side’s newcomers for their contributions in the absence of several frontline players.

Of the five debutants India fielded in the series, wicketkeeper Dhruv Jurel, batters Sarfaraz Khan and Devdutt Padikal and seamer Akash Deep impressed immediately.

“All of these guys have played a lot of cricket even if they have not got test experience and they do understand how to play the game,” Rohit said after India won the fifth test inside three days in Dharamsala.

“It’s just that I’ve got to nurture them. They responded very well to pressure throughout the series.”

The five were brought in as batting stalwart Virat Kohli missed the series for personal reasons, seamer Mohammed Shami was not available due to injury and batter KL Rahul missed the last four tests. All-rounder Ravindra Jadeja also missed the second in Visakhapatnam after he and Rahul were injured in the opener in Hyderabad.

India still went on to register their 17th consecutive test series win at home, where they have not lost a test series since an Alastair Cook-led England bested them in 2012.

It was England’s first series defeat under captain Ben Stokes and coach Brendon “Baz” McCullum, who have championed an ultra-aggressive approach to test cricket.

Critics say England’s so-called “Bazball” approach borders on recklessness. But Stokes defended the swashbuckling batting that has become the hallmark of their current style of play.

“When India get on top, especially with the ball, they get a lot of men around the bat and with the quality of their (spin) bowlers…you’ve got to find ways of getting rid of those close fielders,” Stokes explained.

“And that comes with risk, and risks don’t always pay off.

“You’ve just got to be positive enough to take that risk, accept that it may lead to your downfall. But when the intent is there and you have a clear reason as to why you are playing that shot, you can hold your hands up and accept it.”

Stokes, who underwent knee surgery last November, resumed bowling in this match.

The all-rounder took heart from the performance of spinners Shoaib Bashir and Tom Hartley, both playing in their debut series.

“Shoaib Bashir and Tom Hartley have shown us what they’re about and we’ve found two quality players there for the future,” Stokes said.

“Bash has been very sick at the start of this test match, but he’s come away with another five-wicket haul and Tom has been exceptional throughout the whole series.”



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