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England miss great chance to climb another mountain in India as technology foibles, ‘dozy’ Ben Stokes and majestic Jasprit Bumrah leave epic Test series all square

So, lightning did not strike twice. There was to be no Miracle of Vizag to eclipse even the Hyderabad Heist.

Instead England had to be satisfied with a full supporting role in another compelling, wonderful Test that leaves what is becoming an epic series all square.

There were moments on the fourth day of this second Test when it did seem possible England might defy all cricketing logic and chase the 399 they needed for what would surely have been an unassailable 2-0 lead against an India side who simply never lose at home.

Like when Zak Crawley was driving down the ground majestically as England again rattled along at close to five an over. Or even when Ben Stokes was together with Ben Foakes and the impossible just about seemed possible.

As it was this mountain was too big to climb, with the majestic Jasprit Bumrah adding another three wickets to his world-class, second Test defining six-wicket burst of reverse swing on the second day as England fell 106 runs short of a new piece of history.

India bounced back from a first Test defeat to square the series with a 106-run win vs England

Indian paceman Jasprit Bumrah took three more wickets to finish with nine in the match

Indian paceman Jasprit Bumrah took three more wickets to finish with nine in the match

The fall of Crawley and Jonny Bairstow just before lunch without addition to their score of 194 for four was the time when the dream, effectively, died and it was the wicket of their in-form opener that caused quizzical looks in the England dressing room.

Umpire Chris Gaffaney, who had a poor game, seemed to have got this one right when he turned down India’s appeals after a ball from the left-arm wrist spinner Kuldeep Yadav thudded into Crawley’s pad with all three stumps pretty much showing.

It was a surprise even when India reviewed the decision but, astonishingly, technology had the ball pitching on leg and going straight on without even a hint of spin to hit Crawley’s leg-stump and nip his second score of 70 plus in the Test in the bud.

The accuracy of the Decision Review System is rarely questioned by players and, thankfully, is nothing like as controversial and soul-destroying as VAR in football. But Stokes was right to say it may just have got this one wrong.

‘Technology can never be a hundred per cent correct which is why we’ve got umpire’s call,’ said Stokes. ‘So I don’t think it’s unfair to say I think it got it wrong on this occasion. That’s my opinion but, in a game of ifs, buts and maybes, I’m not saying that’s the reason why we haven’t got the result we wanted.

‘I think it’s fair for me to say that. But you can’t really do much about something that’s been and gone. A decision has been made and that’s just where I stand on it.’

England could have no complaints about the wicket of the captain. This was an unusually dozy piece of cricket from Stokes that saw him sauntering between the wickets and failing to attempt to dive to make his ground before Shreyas Iyer hit the stumps.

Zak Crawley hit a 132-ball 73 before his controversial dismissal by the Decision Review System

Zak Crawley hit a 132-ball 73 before his controversial dismissal by the Decision Review System

England captain Ben Stokes was run out for 11 as he sauntered between the wickets

England captain Ben Stokes was run out for 11 as he sauntered between the wickets

‘It was like I was in a dream where I wanted to run faster but I couldn’t,’ said Stokes, putting his hands up to his mistake. ‘It was a bizarre couple of seconds.’

Yet even though this was something of a missed opportunity for England, with India rattled after the first Test and missing three key players here in Virat Kohli, Ravindra Jadeja and KL Rahul, they have plenty of reasons to be content with the series so far.

Remember, India have not lost a home series since Alastair Cook’s against the odds victory in 2012 and at the very least it looks certain England will be competitive here and that their ultra-positive methods really can succeed in Indian conditions.

They lost an important toss but one of the most unorthodox attacks in English Test history – a 41-year-old seamer in Jimmy Anderson and three spinners with three caps between them – acquitted themselves admirably, with only double centurion Yashashvi Jaiswal taking India to a score resembling first innings par.

The failure of any England batsman to make a century in the match was ultimately costly – along with Shubman Gill riding his luck to add another century in India’s second innings – but even without a big batting contribution England came within seven runs of the highest fourth innings score by any visiting team in India.

Mitigating circumstances now include illness to three of their players on the last day – Ollie Pope, Foakes and Tom Hartley – and the finger injury that surely inhibited Joe Root in a frenetic cameo that ended with him top edging an attempted slog sweep to point.

England insist Root is fully fit but if so his form and skittishness are a concern. Their most important batsman and best player of spin has made only 52 runs in the series so far and he or one of the other batsmen has to emulate Jaiswal and go very big in the remaining matches if England really are going to pull off their best Bazball triumph yet.

England are now returning to their Abu Dhabi training camp with their families for an unusually long nine-day break before the third Test in Rajkot where relaxation rather than any more intensive practice is on the menu.

New Zealand Umpire Chris Gaffaney (left) had a poor game in the second Test

New Zealand Umpire Chris Gaffaney (left) had a poor game in the second Test

They will assess the knee injury of the luckless Jack Leach, who was confined to the team hotel with illness yesterday to compound his problems, and will ponder whether they might need a second seamer in their attack to back up the ageless Anderson.

There are no plans to ask Harry Brook whether he is ready to come to India, with England determined to leave their young star alone to deal with the family situation that saw him pull out of this tour on the eve of their arrival from Abu Dhabi.

Indian, meanwhile, are waiting to see whether Virat Kohli’s own personal issue has eased enough for him to feature in Rajkot but will again be without Jadeja, who could miss the rest of the series with his hamstring injury.

For now two exceptional Tests played out in front of good crowds in two of India’s cricketing outposts have whetted the appetite for more. With England very much having all still to play for.

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