There is no escaping the fact that it was a disappointing day for England, and the damage was done by the 76th-wicket stand between Dhruv Jurel and Kuldeep Yadav.
Had England gone into that third innings with a lead of 100 or more, they would have been able to bat more freely. As it was, the lead had been reduced to 46, and when Ravichandran Ashwin gets Ben Duckett and Ollie Pope on successive balls, he suddenly feels as if the momentum has changed.
From a position where England hoped to dictate the terms and set up a decider in Dharamsala, they seemed unsure whether to hold or go wrong. It’s the type of scenario that they themselves have exploited against other teams during the Bazball era. Now the situation was on the other foot.
One thing you could observe in the way they batted was that the players who did well in this Test (Joe Root, Yashasvi Jaiswal, Jurel, Zak Crawley) were happy to play spin off the front foot.
I learned a lot during my time at Essex from Keith Fletcher, who preferred to stay on the defensive so he could counter the bounce of a spin shot. But this Ranchi surface is very low, and we saw in both innings how Ben Stokes, who was caught at the crease, fell to deliveries that did not get up, although there was not much he could have done with the pearroller the first time. round.
England face defeat in the fourth Test against India after the hosts changed the momentum.
Ravichandran Ashwin made his mark on the series after taking the wickets of Ben Duckett and Ollie Pope in successive balls.
India need just 152 runs to seal victory in the fourth Test and overall series victory at home.
Crawley, on the other hand, has played superbly in this game and used his height to cushion the effect. He didn’t give the ball a chance to drag along the ground, because he was using his great reach to get downfield. The only time he didn’t choose his length well, he fell behind Kuldeep Yadav and was bowled by a sharp turn.
It was a shame for England that Jonny Bairstow fell so tamely on the first ball after tea. From his body language before the break, you sensed that he was in the mood. Another hour of him could have made the difference.
And as much as Ben Foakes has struggled with the tail, one wonders if there is any reason for him and Bairstow to swap places in a situation like this, allowing Foakes to bat with a top-order player, as he did so well with Root in the first innings, and Bairstow will use his powerplay once the lower order is in.
But let’s not downplay India, who were magnificent throughout the day. Rohit Sharma got it right when he opened the bowling to Ravichandran Ashwin, after delaying his innings too long in the first innings in Rajkot. That allowed Duckett, who has struggled against Ashwin, to get a shuttle, and Rohit was not going to make that mistake again.
England’s Ben Foakes struggled at the bottom of the England batting order and there is a case for him to be promoted higher
Jonny Bairstow looked set for a big day at the crease before being bowled shortly after lunch.
England and Ben Stokes seemed unsure whether to continue or change their game plan.
People have said that Ashwin has had a quiet series, but this game has been a reminder that you can’t hold back a great cricketer. Root showed it in England’s first innings and Ashwin underlined it in the second.
You could see the fire in his eyes when Rohit gave him the new ball – he was determined to leave his class in the series. He even treated us to a carrot ball to get rid of Foakes.
That’s what impresses me about this Indian team. You can have all the talent in the world, but unless you have that deep competitive instinct, that will to win, you run the risk of falling short. But even without the aggression of Virat Kohli and the class of Jasprit Bumrah, you can tell how much he was wanted here.
Rohit cares deeply, although he doesn’t always show it in the same way as Kohli, and on the third day India showed their character as well as their class. That is one of the things I have enjoyed most in this series, from both sides: a lot of character has been shown and it is made to make cricket passionate.