Ben Stokes, Joe Root

England's captain Ben Stokes (right) with teammate Joe Root during a training session ahead of the fifth Test against India, in Dharamsala, on Wednesday, March 6. PTI

India vs England, 5th Test | Stokes on Dharamsala pitch: Looks like an absolute belter

Dharamsala, Mar 6 (PTI) England captain Ben Stokes called the Dharamsala pitch an absolute belter and that is the main reason why he did not pick an extra pacer for the fifth and final Test against India starting here on Thursday.

Dharamsala is colder than usual for this time of the year keeping the pacers interested but considering no grass has been left on the surface, the England batters are licking their lips.

Bringing in Mark Wood for Ollie Robinson was the only change England made to their playing eleven.

"Before we even got here, we were probably thinking it was going to be a three seamer one spinner attack but then when we saw the wicket and then saw it again today, I think going with two seamers and two spinners is probably the right call," said Stokes in a pre-match press conference.

"We felt there would probably a bit more grass on the wicket just because of where we are but overall the wicket looks an absolute belter. So playing two seamers and still having Bash (Shoaib Bashir) and Tom gives us a good mixture when you’re a little bit unsure of what it will do as the Test goes on," he added.

India handed England their first series defeat in the 'Bazball' era heralded by Stokes and coach Brendon McCullum.

England would like to go back home with a 2-3 series result but Stokes was quick to admit that India played the key moments better than them after their comeback win in the series-opener.

"At 3-1, you think it's not been a success but I look at it with completely different angles to that and I think we've definitely progressed as a team even though we haven't got the results we wanted. You know, 3-2 sounds better than 3-1 or 4-1 and that's obviously what we're looking to do.

"It's not worked out that way in terms of results but we've got one last push here which is great at the end of a long tour when you play five games. It's a great ground to do it at and a lot of Barmy Army are coming in to support us this week. So, very excited," he said.

Stokes also revealed that off-spinner Bashir and pacer Ollie Robinson, who has not been picked for the game, have upset stomachs.

"They both woke up with slightly upset stomachs and the day before the game you don't want to put anybody at risk so we've decided to keep them away from the team," said Stokes.

There was a lot of talk England's aggressive batting approach before the start of the series and the chatter continued through the first four Tests.

Following their maiden series defeat, Stokes was asked if Rohit outsmarted the entire England unit, Stokes was not amused.

"I will let you decide," said Stokes in a terse response and went on to add that he doesn't ask people to write about him.

Jimmy is phenomenal ============== At 41 years of age, James Anderson remains at the top of his game and is two wickets away from the 700-mark. Stokes can only doff his hat to Anderson.

"Jimmy coming up to 700 wickets, it's phenomenal to think about, especially as a seam bowler. Amazing career to date, and I can't see him stopping.

"Being 41, showing that hunger and desire to get better every single day is testament to his attitude and commitment to the game." Stokes also added that India have been the better team on the skills front.

"The thing I look back on is when the game has been in the balance, India have been better than us in those moments on more than one occasion. In the first game we needed to bowl India out for 220 and were a lot better than them in that moment.

"The games after that, when the game has been on the line, their skill has been a lot better than ours, whether that be India with the bat or India with the the moments that have mattered, since the first game, India have been better," he added. PTI

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by The Federal staff and is auto-published from a syndicated feed.)
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