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Stokes fifty props up England in final India Test

Ollie Pope, on 21, and Dan Lawrence, on 15, were batting after England, who are 2-1 down heading into the final Test, won the toss in Ahmedabad.

England's Ben Stokes plays a shot on the first day of the fourth Test cricket match between India and England at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Motera on March 4, 2021. Picture: Sajjad Hussain / AFP

AHMEDABAD - Ben Stokes hit a gritty half-century but England were struggling at 144 for five at tea against India on day one of the fourth Test on Thursday.

Ollie Pope, on 21, and Dan Lawrence, on 15, were batting after England, who are 2-1 down heading into the final Test, won the toss in Ahmedabad.

The match is being played at the Narendra Modi Stadium, the world's biggest cricket venue, where India won the spin-dominated third Test inside two days.

Left-arm orthodox spinner Axar Patel and fast bowler Mohammed Siraj took two wickets each, while spinner Washington Sundar trapped Stokes lbw for 55.

England lost early wickets, including skipper Joe Root for five, to slump to 30-3 before Stokes put on key partnerships with Jonny Bairstow, who made 28, and Pope.

Stokes raised his 24th Test fifty and second in the series with a boundary off a reverse sweep, but the left-hander soon fell to one of Sundar's deliveries from around the wicket.

Bairstow was trapped lbw by a rising Siraj delivery and failed in a review that showed the ball would have clipped the top of middle stump.

Earlier, spin was introduced in the sixth over and Patel struck with his second ball as Dom Sibley was bowled for two.

Patel in his next over then induced Zak Crawley, on nine, to miscue tamely into the hands of Siraj at mid-off.

Bairstow, who failed to score in either innings of the third Test, tried to steady the innings along with his captain.

But Siraj broke through after the first drinks interval to trap Root on the back foot with an in-swinging delivery.

Siraj and Stokes were involved in a verbal duel, joined by India captain Virat Kohli, until the umpires intervened. Stokes then hit back with three boundaries off the quick bowler.

England left out fast bowlers Jofra Archer and Stuart Broad, with off-spinner Dom Bess and Lawrence back in the team.

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