- By Stephan Shemilt
- Chief cricket writer in Visakhapatnam
England captain Ben Stokes praised his players' “mentality” despite their 106-run defeat in the second Test against India in Visakhapatnam.
The tourists set a record of 399 wins, but were bowled out for 292, leaving the series tied at 1-1.
“We have so much confidence in our abilities that it affects the people who support us,” Stokes told BBC Sport.
“Two or three years ago, if that had been our job, many people probably wouldn’t have thought we had a chance.”
England faced the prospect of achieving their highest run-chase score in Test cricket, the highest of any team against India and the highest in this country.
Under Stokes' leadership, they have chased five 250-plus targets in the last two years and last week overcame a 190-run first-innings deficit to win the first Test in Hyderabad.
However, after reaching 95-1 on the fourth morning in Visakhapatnam, the loss of Rehan Ahmed, who had moved up the rankings, signaled a steady stream of wickets.
Zak Crawley's dismissal for 73 was a hammer blow and when Stokes was out for 11, England's last little hope went with him.
“Of course it’s disappointing to lose. “We always want to come out here and win, but the way we went about it is exactly what we’re looking for,” Stokes added.
“Everyone says, 'What is Bazball?' It's down to our mentality, our style of play. The fact that you can never look at the pitch and think we're behind, even if we are. This is a great testament to the players.”
Stokes also revealed that Ollie Pope, Ben Foakes and Tom Hartley struggled with illness on the final day, as did Jack Leach, who did not take part in the second Test due to a knee injury.
“A few woke up this morning not feeling well, and when everyone had the same symptoms, you know something is going on,” Stokes said.
“That’s no excuse for the result because it’s a game full of ifs, buts and maybes.”
“I’m proud that the boys who were struggling didn’t stop at anything and gave it their best.”
Joe Root suffered a finger injury after taking a knock during warm-up and fielding on day three.
Root struggled to make 16 off 10 balls on Monday, failing due to a loose hit from Ravichandran Ashwin.
“He’s fine,” Stokes said. “He hates the feeling of having forgotten something. We were more worried about it last night, but when he woke up he felt much better.”
The five-match series will now pause for a week before the third Test begins on February 15 in Rajkot.
India's players will return home and England will spend the break with their families in Abu Dhabi.
“It’s welcome,” Stokes said. “You shouldn’t underestimate the impact of a series of five tests.
“A 2-0 lead would be great for us, but that's the great thing about a five-game series. It’s the end of the series where everything counts.”
“We are a very level-headed team. Last week we were pretty even, even though we had achieved something very special. We recognized that, but didn’t get too high.”
“The same is true this week: in the dressing room we are still very optimistic about the great things we have achieved, even if we didn't get the result we wanted.”
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