India v England: nail-biting finish to first Test on day four – live | England in India 2024

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This was a beauty. The ball from Hartley was angled in, pitching on middle, maybe even middle-and-leg, and it turned sharply to hit the top of off. He may look like Christopher Cazenove, but he’s bowling like Monty Panesar at his peak.

WICKET!! Bharat b Hartley 28 (India 176-8)

The breakthrough! And a five-wicket haul, on debut, for Tom Hartley!

Fifty partnership!

61st over: India 173-7 (Bharat 28, Ashwin 24) Rehan goes off, understandably, but his replacement, Jack Leach, is just as pricey. Perhaps stiff from that sore knee, he starts with a wide and then drops too short to Ashwin, who loves the cut and cashes in with a two and a four. Up comes the fifty partnership, now 54 in 20.4 overs, so these two have batted for a third of the innings. They’ve done so well, first steadying the ship, then grabbing the wheel. India need only 58 more.

“Being Australian,” says Rowan in Hobart, “I’ve never barracked for England before, but this has been a wonderful and inspiring performance by England in conditions that are pitch perfect for India (pun intended). And to add to my apparent confusion, I found myself incredibly pleased for the Windies and their fantastic fighting spirit – for such an inexperienced team as the current Windies group to beat Australia at home in a Test match is a sensational achievement.
Great contests are irresistible.”

60th over: India 164-7 (Bharat 27, Ashwin 17) Root returns in place of Hartley and the batters pick up three singles. It’s been noticeable all game that the Indians have treated England’s senior players with exaggerated respect, the new boys not so much (until Hartley demanded it with his stirring start to this innings). Makes you wonder what Jimmy’s figures might have been… 24-15-21-2, maybe.

“Hartley actor?” says David Cross, not wasting his words. “Christopher Cazenove?” Good call.

59th over: India 161-7 (Bharat 25, Ashwin 16) Rehan is making things happen, as advertised, but not in the manner Stokes was hoping for. He tosses one up and Bharat, out of his shell now, whacks it over mid-on for four. Bharat has scored 14 off 14 balls from Rehan, only 11 off 41 from everyone else. India need 70. It’s torture, in a glorious way.

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58th over: India 155-7 (Bharat 20, Ashwin 15) Suddenly the batters are living more dangerously. First there could be a run-out, if Pope’s throw was a better one, and then there’s another edge from Bharat from another failed attempt to leave the ball. It drops short of Root, who makes a fine stop by diving from slip to the vacant gully. Not for the first time, Bharat shows some resilience by following a narrow escape with an attacking shot, a thump for two to midwicket.

57th over: India 153-7 (Bharat 18, Ashwin 15) The home crowd have been getting noisier as the shadows lengthen and now they have something to cheer as Rehan drops short and Bharat cuts for four. That’s his first boundary off his 41st ball, and he picks up another one inadvertently as he tries to get out of the way of a lifter and gets a toe-end that flies over Root at slip. India need to make another 78. They couldn’t, could they?

Bharat and Ashwin are eeking out a few too many singles for England’s liking. Photograph: Noah Seelam/AFP/Getty Images

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56th over: India 144-7 (Bharat 9, Ashwin 15) Hartley continues and keeps Ashwin honest with a maiden. But these two batters have quietly done very well, hanging in there for 15 overs, chipping out 25 runs and reducing the target to 87.

And here’s Colum Fordham, striking a cultured note. “Just been marvelling at the sculptural feats of Phydias in an exhibition,” he says, “but when I glanced at the OBO, my jaw dropped even further. Ye gods! By Athena, Zeus and Minerva, what a victory this would be for England! I can Hartley believe it. Sorry.”

55th over: India 144-7 (Bharat 9, Ashwin 15) Right on cue! Wood gives way to Rehan, a cricketer in Stokes’s own image – all-rounder, good fielder, strong character, makes things happen. He bowls one ball in this over that could easily take a wicket, an over-spinner (I think) that turns into a rip-snorter, almost a bouncer. Bharat does well to get his nose out of the way.

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54th over: India 143-7 (Bharat 9, Ashwin 14) Hartley lures Bharat into an edge, but his hands are soft and the ball falls short of Root at slip. As this partnership stretches to an hour or so, Stokes needs to do something. He may want to bring Rehan Ahmed back before it’s too late to risk him.

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53rd over: India 142-7 (Bharat 9, Ashwin 13) While we’re on the subject of unlikely roles, Wood seems to be England’s stock bowler. He bowls a maiden to Bharat and has now gone for just 14 in seven overs. India need another 89.

52nd over: India 142-7 (Bharat 9, Ashwin 13) Root gets a breather as Hartley returns. In the first innings, one of the commentators is saying, he had the most expensive figures from a Test debutant (25-0-131-2). I suspect that’s the most expensive for England, rather than for all-comers, but the point stands – in a spectacular transformation, Hartley now has a majestic 19-4-42-4. He may look like a posh English actor from the 1970s, but the role he has been cast in is a humble one: Cinderella.

51st over: India 140-7 (Bharat 9, Ashwin 11) Wood shows why he got the nod from Stokes by finding some reverse swing, but it’s fairly mild and Ashwin can handle it. A few minutes ago a caption informed us that when India do lose a home Test, the average spin is more pronounced than when they win. A Bunsen burner can turn even a modest spinner into a menace.

“Incredible performance by Shamar Joseph in the other Test,” says Simon Gates, “but didn’t Australia hand it to them with their first-innings declaration? I seem to remember England doing something similar recently…”

50th over: India 138-7 (Bharat 9, Ashwin 10) As the shadow of a large stand creeps towards the crease, Root bowls to Ashwin, one off-spinner to another. Five dots and then a two, cut past cover, to take Ashwin into double figures. He is a good enough batter to win this, but he will need sterling support from Bharat, with only Bumrah and Siraj to come.

“Evening Tim,” says Phil Withall, “from an oppressively humid Queensland. I woke this morning to the news that Tooting and Mitcham United had won 5-0 and Ipswich Town had been knocked out of the FA Cup by Maidstone. Then the Australians were magnificently beaten by an inspired West Indies performance. Now England are on the cusp of an unlikely victory. All I need to reach sporting nirvana is for Norwich to beat Liverpool in the early hours of tomorrow morning and I may well have had the greatest sporting day of my life.”

49th over: India 136-7 (Bharat 8, Ashwin 7) Stokes replaces Leach with Mark Wood, although he doesn’t give him a slip. Where is he expecting a wicket to come from? Maybe clean-bowled, with a yorker, or chipped to mid-off, with a cutter. Neither materialises, although Wood does keep the pressure on by allowing only two singles. India need 95. These two batters have steadied the ship, surviving for 8.4 overs so far, without bothering England too much.

Ravichandran Ashwin plays a defensive stroke just past Ollie Pope at silly mid-off. Photograph: Noah Seelam/AFP/Getty Images

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48th over: India 134-7 (Bharat 8, Ashwin 7) Root continues and goes up for a big appeal against Bharat. It was a good ball, and Bharat flirted with danger by playing no stroke, but Stokes decides against the review. He feels it was too high and he’s right. The pitch may be a turner, and two-paced, but it’s not dead. Bharat bites back with a slog for two into the wide open spaces beyond midwicket, where the ball is collected by the sub fielder, Jimmy Anderson. Remember him?

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Drinks! England in charge (whisper it)

At drinks England’s ropey attack are right on top, with four wickets in the hour since tea – one of them a sensational run-out from Ben Stokes, who has juggled his resources in masterful fashion. Can he finish the job? Can India really lose a home Test for only the fourth time in the last 47? Time will tell. England could win it this evening, whereas India need to take the game into the fifth day.

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47th over: India 131-7 (Bharat 5, Ashwin 7) Leach drops short and Ashwin rocks back to cut for four. That’s the first boundary for 54 balls and only the second off the bat in 20 overs. India need exactly 100.

“Have just come home from walking the dog,” says Diana Luther Powell, “to see this bemusing scorecard. Ashwin – well, we all know what he can do … I can always take the dog out again!” Ha. So you don’t take the phone with you on the dog walk?

46th over: India 125-7 (Bharat 4, Ashwin 2) Stokes gives Hartley a breather. With the batter just trying to survive, this could be the moment to recall Rehan Ahmed, who bowled one over for 13 earlier. But Stokes, who does sometimes play it safe, brings back Root, the man he trusted with the new ball today. He concedes a couple of singles.

45th over: India 123-7 (Bharat 3, Ashwin 1) Leach almost gets through Ashwin with a dart that only turns a little, Axar-style, but Ashwin is going right back and he just has time to jab the bat down on it. India need another 108.

“If England see this through today, after trailing by 190 on first innings,” says Simon McMahon, “it’ll be up there with the great Test victories. That would make two of them on the same day, after events in Brisbane earlier. Now, can Manchester United Newport County make it a hat-trick of underdog upsets in the FA Cup later?” Ha.

44th over: India 122-7 (Bharat 2, Ashwin 1) Another over of five dots and a single, from Hartley this time. And here’s Richard Sandall with a question for you. “Who else gets up in the morning,” he wonders, “and does a one-hand squinty poke to get to page 1 of the OBO without seeing the score? Real jeopardy, accelerated. And joyful this morning!”

43rd over: India 121-7 (Bharat 1, Ashwin 1) Leach, playing through the pain of a bruised knee, keeps the pressure on with an over that goes for just a single. He’s bowled seven overs in the innings now, finding plenty of turn and taking one for 17. “This team,” says Kevin Pietersen, “is so together.”

42nd over: India 120-7 (Bharat 0, Ashwin 1) Stokes gets something wrong now as Hartley and Foakes persuade him to review for caught behind against Ashwin. The ump shook his head and UltraEdge backs him up, showing no spike as Ashwin attempts a sweep, so England lose a review.

41st over: India 120-7 (Bharat 0, Ashwin 1) Not content with pulling off an inspired run-out, Stokes continues to switch his bowlers craftily. An attack that looked unspeakable at the start of the match – one seamer, one rusty spinner, two rookies and a Rooty – is looking unplayable now.

“If I’m honest,” says Will Vignoles, “this has already slightly exceeded my expectation for the tour given the horror show last time out. If England do win, will people finally accept that maybe Stokes and McCullum know a bit about what they’re doing?

“Also what a performance from the West Indies, wrapped up to one of nature’s great sounds – Ian Smith going berserk.” Ha.

Stokes replaced Root with Leach – and off his second ball, Leach persuaded Shreyas to guide the ball straight into Root’s hands at slip! For an attacking batter, that was rather a tame dismissal. India need 112; England need just three wickets.

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WICKET! Shreyas c Root b Leach 13 (India 119-7)

Another one!

Jack Leach gets in on the act! This is incredible cricket from England. Photograph: Francis Mascarenhas/Reuters

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40th over: India 119-6 (Shreyas 13, Bharat 0) Jadeja went off feeling his hamstring, which could be even worse news for India, adding injury to insult. And his dismissal means that India have only one experienced batter left, in Ashwin. Surprisingly, they don’t send him out now, so for the moment India’s fate is in the hands of two relative novices, Shreyas in his 13th Test and Srikar Bharat in his sixth. Mind you, they are facing a fellow rookie in Tom Hartley, who bowls a maiden to Bharat, finding plenty of turn. He has the figures of his dreams: 16-3-40-4.

39th over: India 119-6 (Shreyas 13, Bharat 0) Jadeja is a fast runner, but he hadn’t bargained for Stokes’s quick thinking. And the backhand was as good as anything you’ll see at the Rod Laver Arena, homing in on the base of the nearest stump.

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Jadeja, facing Root, played his most confident shot so far, a wristy on-drive. It went straight to mid-on, where Stokes not only gathered it cleanly but flicked it, backhand, and scored a direct hit. Fabulous stuff.

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WICKET!! Jadeja run out (Stokes) 2 (India 119-6)

A stroke of genius from Stokes!

It’s quite stunning fielding from the England captain to dismiss Ravindra Jadeja for just 2 runs. Photograph: Stu Forster/Getty Images

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38th over: India 119-5 (Shreyas 13, Jadeja 2) Shreyas’s attacking mindset pays off as Hartley lets the ball slip, bowls a full toss and gets whipped through midwicket for four. That’s the first boundary off the bat for 11 overs, such has been England’s control.

37th over: India 115-5 (Shreyas 9, Jadeja 2) For a moment Root thinks he’s got Shreyas as the ball flies off the glove (or something) towards backward short leg, but for once Ollie Pope proves fallible and he can only tip it over the bar. India need another 116. On WinViz, England are now being given a 65pc chance of a win.

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36th over: India 112-5 (Shreyas 7, Jadeja 1) Shreyas, facing Hartley, plays a flamboyant stroke, a wristy whip from outside off to square leg, but only gets a single for it. “Good rhythm now for Hartley,” says Ravi Shastri, who knows a bit about bowling slow left-arm on turning pitches. Hartley responds by rapping Jadeja on the pad. England think hard about asking for a review, so hard that they run out of time. It would have been wasted, as the ball was turning too sharply to hit the leg stump.

35th over: India 109-5 (Shreyas 5, Jadeja 0) Shreyas is itching to attack, stepping away to give himself room on the off – but Root sees him going and stops in his delivery stride. When Shreyas takes a single, Root attacks Jadeja, drawing a thick edge, well played with soft hands so it goes too low for a slip catch, and then beating the bat with a shooter. Root is really enjoying his new role as a bowler who bats a bit.

34th over: India 108-5 (Shreyas 4, Jadeja 0) Hartley, despite being cruelly deprived of the chance to take all ten wickets, keeps the pressure on. He again finds that spot where the ball just dies on the batter, but again it’s outside off stump and the person who is most tested by it is Ben Foakes, or, as we now think of him, Ben BeeGee.

33rd over: India 107-5 (Shreyas 3, Jadeja 0) That was the wicket England most wanted, because Rahul was the last senior specialist batter and he had made that commanding 86 in the first innings. It’s a triumph for Joe Root – his fifth wicket in the match – and a bonus for Stokes, who now has two new batters to torment.

“Damn damn damn,” says Mark Kelly. “I have hope! I promised myself I wouldn’t get sucked in, and yet here I am again.”

WICKET! Rahul lbw b Root 22 (India 107-5)

Three reds! Pitching in line, straightening from round the wicket, hitting the top of middle-and-leg.

Rooooooooot! Photograph: Stu Forster/Getty Images

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WICKET?! Rahul given lbw b Root 22

This could be huge. But Rahul reviews …

32nd over: India 102-4 (Rahul 22, Shreyas 2) This may be Hartley’s best over so far, and he has nothing to show for it. He beats Shreyas with a beauty, then bamboozles Rahul with a shooter that shoots away for four byes. That was almost as unplayable as the ball that dismissed Hartley himself, from Ravichandran Ashwin. India need 129.

31st over: India 97-4 (Rahul 22, Shreyas 1) The bowler Stokes most likes to pair with Hartley is Joe Root, because he’s an off-spinner, and because he’s been very reliable in this match. His first over after tea goes for two singles as KL Rahul strolls serenely on. His is the wicket England most need.

30th over: India 95-4 (Rahul 21, Shreyas 0) Shreyas Iyer, who was demoted so that India could have a right-hand-left-hand combination, comes in at no.6 as a question hovers in the warm air of Hyderabad. Are England slight favourites again?

Hartley does it again, and so does Stokes. Restored to the end where he nabbed the top three, Hartley lured Axar into a loose drive and took a neat low catch. The man whose first spell in Test cricket went horribly wrong has bounced back with four for 31 from 11 overs. And he batted well in both innings too.

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WICKET! Axar c&b Hartley 17 (India 95-4)

Another one for Tom Hartley!

That’s the fourth wicket of the day for Tom Hartley, India are in trouble! Photograph: Francis Mascarenhas/Reuters

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A couple of stats for you. If India make it to 231, it will be the fifth-highest successful chase in a Test on Indian soil. And Ollie Pope’s 196 is fourth on the all-time list for England in India, behind only Joe Root, Mike Gatting and Graeme (Foxy) Fowler. It wasn’t quite Pope’s highest Test score as he made 205 against Ireland last summer, but it was easily his best.

“What a day for Test cricket,” says Krish Krishnamoorthy. “Am still reeling from the Joseph storm after the Pope calm and Hartley is hurtling. All this before Sinner has even entered the Rod Laver Arena. One helluva Sunday it is.”

Yes! And Man United going to Newport County. Banana skins wherever you look.

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How are the mighty falling

In Hyderabad, we could have an upset coming. In Brisbane, they’ve already got one.

Teatime entertainment. “There was some banter on here the other day about Hartley looking like some famous figure from the popular entertainment of yesteryear, to which I wasn’t able to contribute,” says Ewan Glenton. “But since he’s the headline act so far today I’m going to slot this in anyway… Speaking of resemblances, another useful knock from Foakes yesterday; given that Ben’s a dead ringer for Barry Gibb (and is even, I see, more or less the same height), if, in addition to keeping wicket and batting, his skill set includes singing falsetto, he should be a shoo-in for the role whenever it comes to casting for a biopic of the Bee Gees superstar.” Bear with him – it gets better.

“Foakes can continue to show us he’s More Than A Wicketkeeper, answering question ls like How Deep Is Your Batting Line-Up and making sure a couple of middle-order wickets don’t always lead to a Chain Reaction by Stayin’ Alive for a while at the crease; he’s already helped to avoid a Hyderabad Batting Disaster 2024; and he’s capable both of keeping the scoreboard ticking over and, when required, of batting prudently, perhaps giving sage advice to his gung-ho Bazball partners by saying ‘we can take forever, just an over at a time’.

“If it goes too far the other way though and a teammate gets bogged down, he could be on hand to say ‘You Should Be Chancing your arm a bit more’, or Words to that effect… And of course his keeping is nifty enough to pull off a good few stumpings, ensuring there are a fair few opposition batters For Whom The Bail Falls (as for catching, he gets low and he gets high). It must be frustrating for him, to get picked for being an elite keeper and a more than competent number 7 bat, rarely fail to live up to expectations, but keep on getting dropped anyway; he must sometimes feel like asking the England selectors why they have to be Heartbreakers… when he was being what they want him to be.”

England wicketkeeper Ben Foakes performs on stage in 1979. Still agile behind the sticks at 79. Photograph: Ed Perlstein/Redferns

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Tea! And it’s 50-50

29th over: India 95-3 (Rahul 21, Axar 17) No sooner has Stokes brought Rehan on than he takes him off again. Back comes Root, bearing parsimony. He goes round the wicket to Rahul, bowls six dots, and that’s tea, with India fighting back after Tom Hartley’s finest hour. On WinViz it’s now 55-45 to India; on the less scientific TimViz, it’s 50-50, because the fourth innings can do funny things. India need 136 more and their hopes rest on KL Rahul, who has calmly added 21 not out to his 86 in the first innings. England’s hopes rest on Ben Stokes, and his extraordinary knack of conjuring wickets at unlikely moments from unfancied bowlers. Time for some more toast.

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28th over: India 95-3 (Rahul 21, Axar 17) Another stingy over from Wood, still going mostly full with the odd short one. This spell has only gone for two runs off three overs. The cameras keep finding England supporters fast asleep. If you can’t keep awake for this, you really shouldn’t be there.

Here’s Matt Dunnill. “What a brilliant day to be on the OBO! (They all are in their own way but today feels special). One of your esteemed correspondents yesterday proclaimed Test cricket to be the best version of ant sport in the world. (Spoiler alert, it was me.)

“It’s only January and I’ve already used my quota of being right about something for the year, although if I’m honest, I did say to my mate Bilaal that Hartley was a one-Test wonder so I’ll happily gobble up some humble pie for breakfast there. Cricket eh? Bloody hell.”

27th over: India 94-3 (Rahul 20, Axar 17) Eoin Morgan, on commentary, was saying just now that he’d like to see Stokes bring on Rehan Ahmed. And here he is, which feels like a risk, but Morgan reckons it’s canny as the situation allows Rehan to bowl a bad over without costing England too much. That bad over comes along right away – two overpitched balls, which Axar drives for four, and then a long hop, pulled for four more. The pull whistles just past Ollie Pope’s left ear, which may be the first moment of discomfort he’s had all day.

26th over: India 81-3 (Rahul 19, Axar 5) Wood, racing in like a small boy, bowls a bouncer to Axar Patel that barely carries through to Ben Foakes. That’s how slow this pitch is, though it is a bit two-paced. Understandably, Wood follows that with two full deliveries – a failed yorker that turns into a full toss, and a better ball that pitches close to the crease. A frontline batter might have hit both for four, but Axar can’t find the gaps. That’s a maiden, Wood’s second of the match.

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25th over: India 81-3 (Rahul 19, Axar 5) Rahul, facing Hartley, decides the best form of defence is attack. He plays a paddle-sweep, past short fine, and then a full-blooded sweep, to long leg’s right. Mind you, the last person to play a pair of sweeps soon perished. India need 150.

Rahul plays a shot down to backward point. Ollie Pope wisely gets out of the way. Photograph: Francis Mascarenhas/Reuters

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24th over: India 73-3 (Rahul 11, Axar 5) Wood has had a thin time of it so far: earlier today he added a duck to a score of 11, after his none for 47 with the ball. But he did have a catch dropped in his first over of this innings, drawing a sharp nick from Rohit that Zak Crawley couldn’t hang onto. I suspect Stokes fancies him to rattle Axar, though it doesn’t happen instantly. After a nudge for a single by KL Rahul, Axar plays out five dots securely enough.

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23rd over: India 72-3 (Rahul 10, Axar 5) Hartley’s on at the other end, where his first over passes without incident. Stokes, one step ahead again, is lining up Mark Wood. Six wickets have fallen to seam in the match, none of them to England – in fact all of them to Jasprit Bumrah.

22nd over: India 70-3 (Rahul 9, Axar 4) Root continues and just for a change, there are three singles. “Sensible stuff from Axar Patel,” murmurs one of the commentators. Yes, but it’s been sensational stuff from Tom Hartley, who has career-best figures – 8-1-21-3 – and is about to bowl again now.

21st over: India 67-3 (Rahul 8, Axar 2) Leach again goes for a couple of singles. “Ben Stokes can control the game now,” says Ravi Shastri, “now that Rohit has gone.” Whisper it, but WinViz reckons England are on top: it gives them a 59pc chance of a win, to India’s 41.

20th over: India 65-3 (Rahul 7, Axar 1) Ben Stokes does love to get batters out with rookie spinners. Last winter it was Rehan Ahmed and Will Jacks, now it’s Tom Hartley. One way he does it is by being very proactive, making changes before you expect them, giving the batters the impressions that he is one step ahead. Now he takes Hartley off and brings back Joe Root, whose arm ball bamboozles Axar and very nearly takes the edge. Rooty’s not a rookie, but he is rusty – or was before the first innings, when Stokes squeezed four wickets out of him.

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