England go into the fourth Test with India knowing they need a win to keep alive their hopes of a series victory and optimism may have risen this week.
After being comprehensively beaten within four days in the third Test, the tourists head to a relatively new venue in Ranchi looking to turn things around.
Skipper Ben Stokes could be called into action with the ball, while India have decided to give the world’s number one ranked paceman Jasprit Bumrah a rest.
Under the stewardship of Brendon McCullum, it’s fair to say England have responded well to disappointing defeats and they are going to have to do that again this time.
Having taken a 1-0 lead in the series, the tourists have suffered losses in the next two – by 106 runs in Visakhapatnam and then by 434 runs last time out in Rajkot.
There are reasons to be hopeful though, as England head to a ground that has only previously hosted two other Test matches.
The first clash in Ranchi saw India draw with Australia in 2017, before the hosts thumped South Africa by an innings and 202 runs in 2019. In six innings at the venue, three have seen over 450 runs scored with the bat - including 603/9 declared for India against the Aussies.
Although the surface will be suited to spin, pace bowlers have also enjoyed success in those previous two encounters.
Mohammed Shami and Umesh Yadav took five wickets each in the win over the Proteas, while Australia’s Pat Cummins took four wickets in one innings of the 2017 draw.
With just a couple of players still in the squad from that 2019 clash, India’s lack of experience at the venue may also provide a much-needed boost for England.
Ben Duckett’s 153 in the third Test was the only big positive with the bat for England and his opening partnership with Zak Crawley could be crucial in this latest clash.
England’s opening partnerships across the series so far read 45-55-50-59-15-89 and the duo will want to get England off to a good start, to put them in a position to build a much-needed big score.
Although he’s not been at his best, Crawley fired 76 and 73 in the second Test and there have been signs that a big score could be in the offing for the Kent man.
With Jonny Bairstow and Joe Root lacking in runs, there is more chance of the experienced duo recapturing their form if England have a strong base to build from.
If pitch reports are to be believed, spinners should play a big part in the fourth Test and there are none better on show than Ravichandran Ashwin.
The veteran off-spinner was forced to leave the camp for a family medical emergency during the win in Rajkot, but returned before the end and should feature this time around.
Ashwin has claimed 11 wickets across the opening three Tests and is the only Indian bowler in the current squad that played in the two previous Tests in Ranchi. It’s also worth noting that he’s taken the scalps of both England openers on at least two occasions during the series.
The 37-year-old will be relied upon even more with the absence of Jasprit Bumrah, who has been rested by the India selectors.
Pace bowler Bumrah is the leading wicket-taker in the series so far, claiming 17 England wickets, but will be given a break ahead of the fifth and final Test.
Mukesh Kumar, who was released from the squad for the third Test, has been recalled to the India squad and could be handed a chance to impress.
England have suggested Ben Stokes could return to red-ball bowling for the first time since his recent knee operation, whilst the selectors are also considering a recall for Ollie Robinson.
This article was written by a partner sports writer via Spotlight Sports Group. All odds displayed on this page were correct at the time of writing and are subject to withdrawal or change at any time.