India- England Series

Stokes defeated but not down after first Test series loss as captain


Publish Date: 14:41 Tuesday, February 27, 2024

|| AFP ||

England's Ben Stokes said Monday he tried to enjoy the professional journey and smile -- despite losing his first Test series as captain against India.

The tourists went down to India by five wickets on day four of the fourth Test in Ranchi, as the hosts took an unbeatable 3-1 lead in the five-match series.

"On this occasion, their skill was better than ours," Stokes told reporters.

"Obviously we want to win every game we play, and win every series," he added. "This is the first we have lost, but we will be involved in plenty more series going forward."

England won the opener to hand India only their fourth home Test loss since 2013 but went down in the next three matches.

It was the first series defeat for Stokes and coach Brendon McCullum since they took charge in 2022 and changed England's fortunes with their attacking philosophy dubbed "Bazball".

"You can have it all taken away from you at the click of a finger, so why not enjoy every opportunity you have to play?" he said.

"And make sure you are doing it with a smile on your face regardless of what is happening."

'Under pressure' 

The 32-year-old Stokes, an all-rounder who is playing this series only as a batsman after knee surgery last year, played his 101st Test since his debut in 2013.

Stokes, a left-hand batsman, made 70 at the start of the series to lead England to a 28-run win in Hyderabad.

Faced with challenging Indian conditions, he brought in two new spinners, Shoaib Bashir and Tom Hartley.

In the fourth Test, Bashir constantly put India in trouble in the first and second innings -- with a match haul of eight wickets.

But the batting disappointed, as England were bundled out for 145 in their second innings on day three in Ranchi, handing India a victory target of 192.

Indian spinners Ravichandran Ashwin and Kuldeep Yadav shared nine wickets between them and Ravindra Jadeja took one to bowl England out in 53.5 overs.

"It was very obvious they sensed an opportunity to really put us under pressure," said Stokes.

"When you've got three world-class spinners operating in conditions like that, you know you're going to be up against it."