Ahead of the crucial third Test against India, England’s assistant coach Graham Thorpe has reminded Ben Stokes of his ability with the bat, as the all-rounder was struggling to escape from the spin trap by India’s off-spinner R Ashwin so far in the ongoing four-match Test series.
The left-hander had a great start of the India tour, scoring 82 in the first innings of the first Test, but then he could not save himself from being trapped in Ashwin's spin trap, as he was dismissed by India’s experienced off-spinner for 7, 18 and 8 in the rest of his 3 outings in the first two Tests in Chennai.
With the ongoing four-match Test series between India and England leveled 1-1 at the moment, both teams headed to Ahmedabad to play pink-ball Test under the lights, starting Wednesday (February 24) at the world’s biggest cricket stadium – Sardar Patel Stadium.
Well, ahead of the day-night Test with England hoping for a comeback after an embarrassing defeat in the second Test, Thorpe said Stokes should not forget that he has the ability to put bowlers on the back-foot, as he was trying to play down his struggles against Ashwin in the ongoing Test series.
Thorpe said on being asked about Ashwin's command on Stokes, “It is a challenge. Ben actually has, at times, different styles of playing. He can build into an innings as well. I think Ben also has that ability to put a bowler on the backfoot as well that is something which he certainly should not forget.”
Praising Ashwin, the England coach said the veteran spinner can be dangerous to both left and right-handers on a turning track. He added, “I mean not just for the left-handers if the pitch spins, he (Ashwin) is obviously dangerous, for left and right-handers, he is a fine bowler in those conditions as well.”
Thorpe also said England will have a tough series ahead.
He further noted, “I mean in terms of working with the players, it is important to get a good clear mind and kind of push that game away and try and reflect on what we could have done better. (It) comes back to similar things, trying to really trust your footwork and also trusting your defense and staying calm. But we know we have got again another tough week ahead of us.”
On Zak Crawley’s fitness and availability, Thorpe said: “He (Crawley) is looking fit and I think we have probably got a full complement of players to pick from, so he (Crawley) will be certainly in the mix, and his injury seems to have healed for me, watching him in the nets.”
The 51-year-old said of Johnny Bairstow, “Johnny did well in Sri Lanka, he will come back into the mix. All the players are fit, so we have got a choice to make going into this match. We know what Johnny's credentials are, he is a good player of spin, he (has) got a decent record, he played well in Sri Lanka, so he is certainly going to be in with a shout.”
However, the wicket for the third Test is expected to be turning one, but the assistant coach feels the seamers can make more impact in the day-night Test in Ahmedabad.
Thorpe signed off by saying, “It is possible, it's possible, I mean without looking into it, the crystal ball, but I would imagine that the ball generally does swing more under the lights. They (India) don't have a huge database of pink-ball cricket in India, maybe the second one, so looking forward to it, it is a fantastic stadium. We have prepared as well as we can.”
(With PTI Inputs)