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Ben Stokes expects England’s fresh approach to batting fourth in Tests to strike fear in their opponents after they secured a stirring victory over India with their highest-ever successful run chase.
The England skipper won the toss against India but elected to bowl first knowing that his team had successfully chased fourth-innings targets of 299, 296 and 277 in three Tests against New Zealand last month.
India set a target of 378 in their rescheduled Test at Edgbaston which England cruised to for the loss of only three wickets as in-form duo Joe Root (142*) and Jonny Bairstow (114*) steered them home with an unbroken 269-run stand.
“Look at how teams will be viewing us at the moment, that third innings now has become a fourth innings, because they have to concentrate on how we’re going to play, and they’re worried about that,” Stokes said.
“So to be in that position as a team, being feared before they’ve even finished their innings is an unbelievable place to be in.
“Teams don’t know how to play the third innings, especially when they’ve got a lead.”
With a newfound confidence in batting fourth England have chased down imposing targets in each of the four Tests they have played since Stokes took over the captaincy from Root.
Under Root’s guidance England had slumped to a streak of one win in 17 Tests and plummeted to the bottom of the ICC World Test Championship standings.
Four consecutive victories has pushed England two places higher to seventh as a refreshed group reignites interest in the team across the local summer.
“We are trying to rewrite how Test cricket is being played, in England especially,” Stokes said.
“All the different plans that we put together over the last four or five weeks, for every different situation is something we’ll look to carry forward.
“It’s not always about bowling top of off or drying up, it’s how are we going to take wickets? That’s what you need to do as a bowling attack, take 10 wickets.”
England will now move to multiple white-ball series at home with three T20Is and three ODIs against both India and South Africa.
They will then look to continue their ominous white-ball form and perhaps fourth-innings heroics in a three Tests against South Africa that starts on 17 August with a clash at Lord’s.
“We know that we want to give new life to Test cricket, and the way that we go about it, and the support that we’ve received over the last five weeks has been incredible,” Stokes said.
“It’s amazing, in such a short space of time, we feel like we are bringing a new set of fans to the game.
“Inspiring the next generation is what we want to do, this game at the moment is bigger than results for us, it’s about people who come in to represent England in the future, guys who come into the dressing room after. We want to leave a mark on Test cricket.”
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The completion of the recent white-ball series between England and India has had major ramifications on the latest MRF Tyres ICC Men’s ODI Player Rankings, with a host of big name players making big gains and yet another change for the top ranked bowler.