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Mark Wood praises Ben Duckett’s ‘skilful innings’ as England fight back in India

Duckett put pressure back on the hosts with a boundary-laden 133 not out from just 118 balls.

David Charlesworth
Friday 16 February 2024 13:31 GMT
Ben Duckett plays a shot on the second day of the third Test (AP Photo/Ajit Solanki)
Ben Duckett plays a shot on the second day of the third Test (AP Photo/Ajit Solanki) (AP)

Mark Wood applauded Ben Duckett’s “bravery and skill” after the opening batter led England’s remarkable counteroffensive to disrupt India’s bowlers on day two of the third Test.

India racked up an imposing 445 and kept England in the field for 130.5 overs in sapping conditions but Duckett put pressure back on the hosts with a boundary-laden 133 not out from just 118 balls.

The left-hander helped England motor along to 207 for two at nearly six an over by stumps, manipulating the field with his customary sweeps off the spinners and straight drives and carves to the quicks.

Given the circumstances of the match, as well as the 1-1 scoreline in the series, this was a monumental effort from Duckett, whose first iteration as a Test cricketer ended in India in November 2016.

“To be that far behind in the game and go out and play like that showed real bravery and skill,” England team-mate Wood said.

“Sometimes it looked like India weren’t sure of their fields. The way they changed the field and then he’d hit it somewhere else, it was such a skilful innings against a good attack.

“He’s a nightmare to bowl at in the nets, we try to get him to leave one but he never leaves any.

“It’s been hot, he’s spent all that time in the field, so mentally to have that capability to then go out there and play with the freedom and clarity of mind to play those shots and pick the right ball and still be there at the end… I’m delighted for him.”

Duckett, who put on an opening 89 with Zak Crawley and 93 with Ollie Pope, had a torrid time on his only tour previous of India as he was worked over by Ravichandran Ashwin before being dropped for several years.

Ashwin has dismissed Duckett five times in five Tests but was curiously not introduced until the 12th over, when England were on 71 for none, and he claimed his 500th Test wicket by dismissing Crawley.

There was no stopping Duckett, who collected 21 fours and two sixes before surviving a tight lbw shout against Ashwin in the final over, with the ball found to have pitched a fraction outside leg stump.

Ben Duckett is a phenomenal talent so credit to him, he’s made a wonderful hundred,” Ashwin said. “I wanted to clap, but the hardcore competitor in me didn’t allow me to clap, but I’m very happy for Ben.

“I would have really loved to bowl at him when he was not at 60-70 runs. He is a very different player to bowl at when he is on nought. A couple of his shots, the slog sweeps were really, really special.”

Wood was the pick of England’s attack with four for 114, while he also affected the run out of the dangerous Sarfaraz Khan, on a pitch that is likely to get worse for batting as the match progresses.

It was a bizarre day, it almost felt like we should be getting more wickets but then the game wasn't going anywhere

Mark Wood

England squandered five opportunities over four-and-a-half sessions by dropping three catches and missing two referrals although Wood was just happy to get off the pitch by the end.

“I’m absolutely over the moon to be off my feet,” Wood said. “It was hard, hard toil. It’s a good wicket for the batters but the odd ball spins, the odd ball doesn’t bounce or there’s a bit of reverse.

“It keeps you in the game where you feel in the game but it’s not a wicket where you blast people out, it feels to me like hard work and you have to try and try and try.

“It was a bizarre day, it almost felt like we should be getting more wickets but then the game wasn’t going anywhere. Personally, I would have liked to have gone for less runs.

“Yes, my role is to be attacking and try to get wickets but sometimes I felt like I maybe leaked a bit too much. But I’m delighted that I got four wickets.”

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