4th Test: Akash Deep handed debut cap, Ahmed returns home as England opt to bat first vs India

Ranchi, Feb 23 (IANS): Fast-bowler Akash Deep has been handed a Test debut by India as England won the toss and elected to bat first in the fourth Test at the JSCA International Stadium on Friday.

India are currently leading the five-game series 2-1 and need a win in Ranchi to take an unassailable lead. On the other hand, England must win at Ranchi if they are to force the series into a tantalising decider at Dharamshala.

Akash Deep, who’s been a consistent performer for Bengal and India ‘A’ in the red-ball format, was handed his maiden Test cap by head coach Rahul Dravid. He becomes the 313th men’s player to play Test cricket for India. Akash Deep’s debut comes after India opted to rest fast-bowling spearhead Jasprit Bumrah from the Ranchi Test.

"We would have batted first as well. Looks a bit dry and has some cracks, but that's the nature of the pitch here. The last two games were good for us and we'll have to play in the same way.

“Proud of a lot of young guys in the squad, they've taken the responsibility and have taken the challenge head-on. They are confident in their skills, moving forward it's a good thing,” said India captain Rohit Sharma.

England have brought in fast-bowler Ollie Robinson and off-spinner Shoaib Bashir into their playing eleven, in place of Mark Wood and Rehan Ahmed respectively on a pitch which looks dry and has cracks already. “We will bat first. 2-1 down, a bit more important in the context of the series, but every game is important.

"The first one hour will give us an idea about how the pitch will play, but it was always going to be a bat-first track. My bowling is coming off well, it's been a long time coming. I'm happy with the way we've operated throughout the series and looking forward to more of the same."

Later, the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) said in a statement that Ahmed will return home from the India tour for personal reasons with immediate effect. "He will not be returning to India. England will not be replacing Ahmed for the rest of the tour."

Playing XIs

India: Yashasvi Jaiswal, Rohit Sharma (captain), Shubman Gill, Rajat Patidar, Sarfaraz Khan, Ravindra Jadeja, Dhruv Jurel (wicketkeeper), Ravichandran Ashwin, Kuldeep Yadav, Akash Deep and Mohammed Siraj

England: Zak Crawley, Ben Duckett, Ollie Pope, Joe Root, Jonny Bairstow, Ben Stokes (captain), Ben Foakes (wicketkeeper), Tom Hartley, Ollie Robinson, Shoaib Bashir, and James Anderson



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Title: 4th Test: Akash Deep handed debut cap, Ahmed returns home as England opt to bat first vs India

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