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Despite series loss, Stokes geared up for garnering WTC points


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Dharamsala: Though India have an unassailable 3-1 lead in the five-Test series, England skipper Ben Stokes is geared up for the final Test at the HPCA Stadium here with World Test Championship points on the line.

After a spirited 28-run win in the first Test in Hyderabad, the series took a turn for the worse for England. Despite showing fight, they went down in the next three Tests to a dominant India.

While this means that the tourists, who last won a Test series in the country in 2012, will return without a trophy, they aren’t going to treat the final fixture with any less importance.

Speaking before the Dharamsala encounter, England captain Stokes was looking to carry on with his positive approach. He continued to push towards improvement and believed nets were an important training ground for his group.

“Well, it’s like whenever we play. We want to win this week.”

“It’s not a mental or a mentality thing. All you can do is work your hardest and try your nuts off in the nets because that’s where you get better.”

Despite playing in a tightly packed schedule, which had slated them to feature in five Tests over 48 days, Stokes’ desire for success hadn’t diminished.

“We’ve been on so many India tours, you know what it’s like when you get to an end of a long one,” Stokes said. “Sometimes you start thinking about the end of the game.

“I don’t think that anyone is thinking like that because every opportunity we feel at the moment is special to play for England. (Just) because we’ve lost the series, it doesn’t mean that this game is different to what last week was or the week before.

“We’ll think about the plane and getting home when we’re in the airport. So I won’t be thinking about that whatsoever until the game’s done.”

The third Test in Rajkot was a milestone 100th Test appearance for the England captain, and now in Dharamsala, he’ll see his longtime compatriot, Jonny Bairstow, achieve the same landmark.

Despite Bairstow’s lean run, with merely 170 runs from his eight innings in the series thus far, the support for the Yorkshire batter remained unwavering.

“Playing for England means so much to Jonny and means so much to his family as well and to play over 100 ODIs, 100 Tests, a lot of cricket for England.

“It means a hell of a lot to him. He deserves everything that gets spoken about him in the build-up to the game and throughout the week as well.”

England pacer Ollie Robinson who went wicketless in his only appearance in the series in Ranchi also found support from Stokes. Robinson had scored a fighting fifty in the first innings, and Stokes praised his fast bowler’s resilience given the quick’s struggle with a back injury.

“You are more gutted for Ollie that something on day one, his back going, which affects the role he can play in the long run. He is more disappointed that he couldn’t help the team out as much as he’d like.

“The thing to look at is that he was out on the field, trying to influence the game even though he wasn’t feeling 100 per cent (fit). A lesser man would have put their hands up, walked away, and not even tried.”

The fifth Test in Dharamsala kicks off on Thursday (7 March).

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