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Ben Stokes Marks 100th Test With India Series On A Knife-Edge

Ben Stokes will earn his 100th Test cap when he leads England against India in the third Test beginning Thursday in Rajkot, with both sides having to contend with the absence of key players. The five-match series is on a knife-edge at 1-1 after India's 106-run victory in the second Test in Visakhapatnam followed England's 28-run win in Hyderabad. Batsmen Virat Kohli and KL Rahul will be absent for India while England's senior spinner Jack Leach has been ruled out of the final three matches with a knee injury suffered in the first Test.

Stokes, 32, was lauded for his leadership after England won the series opener in Hyderabad to hand India only their fourth Test loss at home since 2013 and then aggressively chased 399 in Visakhapatnam before falling short.

England have won 14 Tests out of 20 since Stokes and coach Brendon McCullum took the reins with an attacking style dubbed "Bazball", but one former great thinks the term is overplayed.

"Much of England's success has been attributed to 'Bazball' -- the desire to score quickly and tactically rattle the opposition -- but this is a misnomer," former Australia captain Ian Chappell was quoted as saying on Cricinfo.

"What Stokes has really done is set out to achieve victory from ball one by playing aggressive cricket -- in all aspects of the game," he said.

Unbelievable achievement

All-rounder Stokes, who is playing in the series as a batsman after recovering from knee surgery, has scored 6,251 runs and taken 197 wickets since his Test debut in 2013.

"To play 100 Tests is an unbelievable achievement," batsman Ollie Pope, who scored a match-winning 196 in the opening Test, told reporters Tuesday.

"Obviously he's had his highs and lows but what he's done since being a captain