India close to series win after Jurel and Ashwin turn tables on England

Rajkot: England succumbed to their trial by spin as India were set 192 to win the fourth Test and with it the series, Dhruv Jurel’s match-turning knock of 90 followed by another five-wicket haul for Ravichandran Ashwin.

After India turned an overnight 219 for seven into 307 all out, whittling a first-innings deficit down to 46, Ashwin’s five for 51 and Kuldeep Yadav’s four for 22 skittled England for 145.

Zak Crawley top-scored with 60, but his dismissal marked the start of England’s collapse from 110 for three on a pitch offering significant turn and uneven bounce.

England, trailing 2-1 in the five-match series and trying to force a decider in Dharamshala, could not make a breakthrough when India came out to bat as the day drew to a close, the hosts closing day three on 40 without loss.

Joe Root and Tom Hartley shared the new ball with Shoaib Bashir, who earlier became the second-youngest English men’s bowler to take a Test five-wicket haul in just his eighth first-class appearance, also sending down an over, and it is likely the trio will have plenty of work to do to prevent an England defeat.

The tourists are not out of it, but may end up ruing Ollie Robinson dropping Dhruv Jurel on 59 – the wicketkeeper led India’s recovery from 177 for seven the previous evening.

There was more DRS controversy as Joe Root was given lbw on review, with former England captain Michael Vaughan suggesting on social media enough of Ashwin’s delivery had pitched outside leg-stump.

But England’s batters were outfoxed by India’s vaunted spinners, with Rohit Sharma turning immediately to Ashwin in the second innings despite an underwhelming series in which he averaged nearly 39.

Ashwin, though, is a master of these conditions, bagging his 350th and 351st Test wickets in India from successive deliveries. On 15, Ben Duckett was fpersuaded into a defensive push to short-leg, then Ollie Pope got into a tangle as he misjudged length and was leg-before for a golden duck that completed a three-ball pair.

Crawley negotiated the hat-trick ball and settled into some rhythm with three cover drives for four in four deliveries when India’s premier spinner over-pitched, but a blossoming stand with Root ended on 46 when the Yorkshireman missed a flick after helping stretch England’s lead to three figures.

There was some suspicion most of Ashwin’s delivery, from around the wicket, had landed outside leg, but India’s review returned three reds and the first-innings centurion was on his way for 11.

Jonny Bairstow was punchy early on and Crawley moved to a third fifty of the series, but India still had one more trump card in Kuldeep, who followed an obdurate 28 off 131 balls by ransacking England’s batting.

Crawley’s fourth ball against the left-arm wrist-spinner turned lavishly through the gate and clattered middle stump, while Ben Stokes made afour off 13 balls before meeting the same fate.

Stokes was first struck on the back leg by a scuttler and initially seemed oblivious as to why India were celebrating but threw his head back and grinned wryly after turning round and seeing the bails on the ground.

When Bairstow tamely punched the first ball after tea to cover and departed for 30, England had lost three wickets for 10 runs in 31 balls, leaving Ben Foakes to bat with the bowlers.

Robinson’s dismal day continued as he was twice struck on the pad by Kuldeep, overturning the first lbw verdict but not the second, out for a three-ball duck before Foakes and Bashir dug in. But their resistance was eventually broken, and India will begin day four as strong favourites to compete a series win.