Ben Stokes has extended bowling session and could resume allrounder duties in 4th test against India

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RANCHI, India (AP) — England cricket captain Ben Stokes arrived in India promising to only play as a batter in the test series.

After three matches, he might be ready to go back on his word.

Stokes had an extended bowling session in the nets on Wednesday without any apparent discomfort. When he stopped, he was seen briefly speaking to team doctor Glen Rae.

It raises the prospect of Stokes bowling competitively in the fourth test starting Friday in Ranchi for the first time since last year’s Ashes test at Lord's.

“There’s definitely a chance,” England vice-captain Ollie Pope said of Stokes potentially resuming his allrounder duties. “He’s not confirmed it, even in the changing room, so we will see. We’ll see how he pulls up, and if that’s good hopefully we will see him with the ball in hand in the game."

Stokes had surgery on his left knee in November and has said he made a “pinky promise” to England’s physiotherapist that he would not bowl on this tour. He was only a batter in the Cricket World Cup in India across October and November, too.

However, Stokes said after England’s 434-run defeat in Rajkot in the third test that he was further along in his progress than was initially suspected and was bowling at optimum level.

England trails 2-1 in the series and having Stokes available as a bowler, with his penchant for picking up big wickets at important times, would be a major boost to its chances.

“If he’s got full confidence in his knee, I guess you’ve got to trust the medical advice and trust his opinions as well," Pope said. "If he needs a bit of guidance on the pitch then I can be someone to lean on.”

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AP cricket: https://apnews.com/hub/cricket