India v England: Ben Stokes facing 'hardest' batting conditions of his career as tourists struggle again

Ben Stokes was the only England batsman to pass 50 on day one

All-rounder Ben Stokes says these are the "hardest" batting conditions he has ever faced after England struggled again on day one of the final Test against India.

Stokes scored 55 as England were bowled out for 205, before India closed on 24-1, trailing by 181 runs in Ahmedabad.

England scored only 112 and 81 at the same venue in the third Test, which India won to take a 2-1 series lead.

"We're more than capable of scoring at least 300 on that pitch," said Stokes.

"We're disappointed and it's frustrating but we can't dwell on it too much and it was nice to get a wicket at the end of the day."

The surfaces for the second and third Tests, both of which India won, have come under scrutiny, particularly following the last match at the same stadium.

England vice-captain Stokes said this wicket was "much better" than the previous two but that batting was still extremely tough.

"I've told some of the youngest batters in our team these are the hardest conditions I've faced as a batsman," said Stokes, who is playing his 71st Test.

"We do try to put the previous results behind us but it's easier said than done - early on it was apparent we weren't going to get anything as tough as day one of the third Test but the ball started to spin more as the day went on."

Former captain Michael Vaughan said this was the "most disappointing day" of England's winter tours of Sri Lanka and India this year.

England beat Sri Lanka 2-0 in January and claimed a dominant 227-run win over India in the first Test, before being thrashed by 317 runs and 10 wickets respectively in the following two matches.

"It's the most disappointing day of the winter, because you expect to beat Sri Lanka and then England go 1-0 up against India," said Vaughan on The Cricket Social.

"India then outskilled England in the second and third Tests and those pitches were questioned, in particular the third Test, which was not a Test-match quality wicket in my opinion.

"But this pitch is, and for 60 overs on day one the pitch did very little."

Vaughan added he had not seen enough improvement from England's younger players and questioned their approach, even given the difficult conditions and facing quality spinners like Axar Patel and Ravichandran Ashwin.

"For Crawley to dance down and gift Axar, a spinner who's had England on toast, an early wicket and for Sibley to have such a big gap between bat and pad - if that was a tailender batting that way, you'd criticise them," he said.

"This has been my concern with this England team for a while - they get worse against quality opposition over the course of a series.

"Full credit to India, they bowled better on day one here than they have in the rest of the series.

"But England should have batted the full 90 overs and been about 250-5 at the close - they've missed a big opportunity."

Stokes said it was up to individual batsmen to "find your own way" to play on such turning pitches rather than deciding "this is what we need to do better as a group".

He added that cricket was a "fickle sport" and that "as a batsman you have to take risks to score runs" on such pitches.

"You can't hold that shot against Zak," said Stokes.

"We're not going to pull him into the dressing room and tell him to never run down the wicket again."


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