England show they are not far off after India series defeat

Joe Root Ben Stokes

India wrapped up an impressive series win against England with a game to spare thanks to a thrilling five-wicket victory in the fourth Test in Ranchi.

England will leave the subcontinent with a series defeat but skipper Ben Stokes and his side will be able to take positives from the experience, as they build towards the 2025/26 Ashes in Australia.

One that got away

Looking back on how the series was won and lost, England will feel there were opportunities to do something special in India. England, who are the favorites in the cricket odds to win the next Ashes series against Australia, took the 1-0 lead in India thanks to a 28-run victory in Hyderabad. It was an excellent performance, in a match where one man in particular grabbed the headlines. Ollie Pope produced a second-inning score of 196 to help guide England over the line for a famous win at Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium.

The tourists needed more of those kinds of performances to have a chance of going on to claim the series, however, it was not meant to be. Ben Duckett did put in a similar display to Pope in the third Test but his 153 couldn’t guide the visitors to victory after a second-innings collapse. England responded well and fought hard in the fourth Test but India were the ones to hold their nerve with bat in hand to claim the five-wicket victory on day four. Again it was a frustrating result for England who could have been more ruthless at times with the benefit of hindsight.

Positives to take forward

Building towards the ultimate test with an Ashes series in Australia in 2025/26, head coach Brendon McCullum and his side will be eager to take positives from their experience in India. Losing the Test series in India with a game to spare does not look good on paper but there were plenty of positives to build on. Those batting displays from Pope and Duckett in tough conditions showed grit and determination, which will be needed by the bucketload for the Ashes series starting next year Down Under. Zak Crawley also impressed in the second Test with bat in hand as he registered scores of 76 and 73 in his two innings.

Consistency is perhaps where England let themselves down in the series in India but there are enough experienced heads in the squad that have been through tough spells and responded in the past. Skipper Stokes, Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow are among the most senior players in the squad and will be hoping to play key roles in the next Ashes series, as they have done against their rivals Australia before. With over a year to go until the Ashes, players won’t want to be peaking just yet but England will know that they will need to start picking up some winning momentum leading into that highly-competitive series on Australian soil.

Whatever the final result of the series in India, England will head home wondering of what might have been in the subcontinent. However, with an experienced side and some promising individual performances in India, there’s cause for optimism going forward.