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    McCullum is confident that Jonny Bairstow will perform well
McCullum is confident that Jonny Bairstow will perform well
Jonny Bairstow fell lbw attempting to sweep Ravindra Jadeja via Getty Images

McCullum is confident that Jonny Bairstow will perform well

The England coach is not worried about the form of Jonny Bairstow and Joe Root ahead of the crucial Test in Ranchi.

England coach Brendon McCullum has backed Jonny Bairstow to rediscover his form. Bairstow's poor form continued in the 434-run defeat in Rajkot, where he made scores of 0 and 4. This has been an awkward fourth tour of India for Bairstow, who has only averaged 17.00 from six innings.

But at the start of the series, Ben Stokes predicted big things for Bairstow. The England captain believed that a role exclusively as a batsman could unlock a purple patch for Bairstow, similar to the summer of 2022 when he became the original Bazball poster boy, with Ben Foakes taking the gloves.

Things did not go according to plan, however.

With England trailing 2-1 in the series, selection decisions will have to be made before the fourth Test in Ranchi, starting on Friday, but McCullum strongly hinted that Bairstow would retain his place in the XI, which would be his 99th Test cap.

Dan Lawrence, who replaced Harry Brook after the latter withdrew from the tour due to family reasons and is unlikely to return, is the only spare batsman in the squad. Lawrence, on the other hand, has not played for McCullum and Stokes.

England will be keen to give Bairstow every opportunity to recapture the explosive form of two summers ago. Stokes scored four centuries in his first six matches. These included two hundreds in the one-off Test against India at Edgbaston. He scored 681 runs at a rate of 96.59 and an average of 75.66.

Since his return from a broken ankle, which ruled him out of the final Test against South Africa and the 2022-23 winter tours of Pakistan and New Zealand, he has struggled to match his previous figures. In the 2023 summer, he scored 424 runs at an average of 30.28, with only three fifties, although one of them was an unbeaten 99 against Australia at Old Trafford.

He was dismissed for a duck in the first innings at Rajkot, which was his eighth against India. It is worth noting, however, that his second dismissal - LBW after missing a sweep off Ravindra Jadeja - was the first time he had been dismissed off an attacking shot. McCullum believes this is the issue.

In the upcoming days, McCullum plans to adopt a more personal approach with someone he describes as 'a little bit different... but in a good way'. Prioritising the individual over the player has proven successful for Stokes and McCullum thus far, and the 2022 Bairstow - whom they supported, encouraged, and at times reassured - is a testament to that.

In contrast, McCullum will take a more hands-off approach with his other senior batter, Joe Root, who is currently out of form. England's second-highest Test run-scorer, Joe Root, has been nursing a set of low scores, having only scored 77 runs at an average of 12.83. MсCullum is not concerned and believes that Root will bounce back in the next two innings.

McCullum also defended Root's ramp shot in the first innings. It sparked a collapse of 8 for 95 on the third day. During a critical passage of play, England surrendered their position of 224 for 2, allowing India to take a first innings lead of 126. This occurred while R Ashwin was absent from the Indian team. During a critical passage of play, England surrendered their position of 224 for 2, allowing India to take a first innings lead of 126.

McCullum criticised those who claim that the new approach is unsuitable for Root. At the start of the series, his career average dropped below 50, and his average under Stokes is 50.12. Although this is still higher than his average during his captaincy (46.44), it has fallen below the 52.80 he achieved in the first four years of his career under Alastair Cook.

Root has been dismissed twice attempting this shot. It is possible to get caught out while defending or attempting to drive the ball through the leg side. It is unclear whether this shot is as high-risk in modern cricket as it was in the past.

Two more will do. England have recovered to level the Ashes after losing the second Test at Lord's in similar circumstances to Rajkot. They have a history of coming from behind in a five-match series. McCullum was happy with the method. He warned against dwelling on the mistakes made here and last summer, saying it would be counterproductive.

While many will be hoping that the lessons of this defeat will lead to a more defensive approach, the team will be doubling down for a must-win match in Ranchi.



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