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    India vs England: Ben Stokes has never seen a pitch like Ranchi's
India vs England: Ben Stokes has never seen a pitch like Ranchi's
Ben Stokes via Midjourney

India vs England: Ben Stokes has never seen a pitch like Ranchi's

England captain Ben Stokes has expressed his surprise at the pitch for the fourth Test against India, stating that he has never seen anything like it.

The Ranchi surface has cracks running down one side, just outside the off stump of a right-handed batsman at one end and just outside the off stump of a left-handed batsman at the other.

England must win the game starting on Friday to force a deciding fifth Test, as they are currently 2-1 down in the series.

Stokes expressed his surprise at the unusual appearance of the pitch, stating he's never seen something like that before.

Stokes commented on the pitch, saying that it appeared green and grassy from the changing rooms, but upon stepping out, it looked different - very dark and crumbly with several cracks.

England will announce their team on Friday, with several options available.

James Anderson and Mark Wood formed a pace partnership for the first time in the series during the significant 434-run loss in the third Test in Rajkot.

During most of that game, England was in the field in extreme heat, so there is a possibility that neither Anderson nor Wood will be deemed fully fit for Ranchi.

Off-spinner Shoaib Bashir may be recalled after missing the third Test. Ollie Robinson is also an option as the sole seamer, which would be his first game for England since the third Ashes Test.

If England anticipates difficulty in run-scoring, they could lengthen their batting by including Dan Lawrence, who can also offer some part-time off-spin.

England's selection could be influenced by Stokes himself. He bowled in the nets in training on Wednesday for the first time since undergoing knee surgery in November.

Stokes initially ruled himself out of bowling on this tour. He said he had made a "pinkie promise" to England physio Ben Davies.

However, after England's defeat in the third Test, the Durham all-rounder opened the door to the possibility of taking the ball in the final two Tests, saying he had been able to bowl at '100%' in training.

After bowling for 35 minutes, the 32-year-old all-rounder had a lengthy discussion with team doctor Glen Rae.

Stokes reported that he experienced no pain in his left knee while bowling, which he said had not happened in years. He also mentioned a potential opportunity to bowl during the Test.

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