Ahmedabad : It just took five sessions and a little more for the third test between India and England to produce a result. Such is the nature of modern-day cricket which very rarely goes to the final day. India had to chase down a target of 49 runs to secure a 10-wicket victory over England and lead the series by 2-1.
Toss : England won the toss and decided to bat first.
England Changes :-
IN : Anderson, Crawley, Bairstow, Jofra OUT: Burns, Lawrence, Ali, Stone.
India Changes :-
IN : Sundar, Bumrah OUT : Siraj, Kuldeep
Ishant Sharma playing in his 100th Test match couldn’t have asked for a better start when he got the edge of Sibley in the seventh over to send him back.The pitch had a grass cover on it but looked very dry under the surface which suggested a spinner’s role much early in the test match. After the first spell of Bumrah and Ishant, it was no surprise to see the spinners bowling in tandem. Axar was once again consistent in his bowling right from the begining. He picked up the wicket of the returning Jonny Bairstow with a delivery that went on with the arm. Joe Root and Ollie Pope fell to Ashwin from round the wicket – a different angle used by the off-spinner. With mayhem at one end, the other end was occupied by Crawley who looked very comfortable at the crease. He played a gentle push towards the right of mid-on for four which almost looked effortless. He hit ten fours during his innings of 53 and was the only batsman that looked well-set.
The pitch was definitely helping the spinners and England’s collapse in the second session gave us an idea of how far the test match would progress. The visitors were all out for 112 courtesy a second five-wicket haul for Axar in his third innings with the ball at the test level.
Trivia : Axar Patel was impressively accurate with the ball. His deliveries induced an edge or a miss by 27% in the first innings which was the fourth highest for a spinner ever since records began in 2006.
India had to endure a watchful half an hour once they came out to bat. Shubman Gill had played 24 deliveries without scoring a run and he looked like he was struggling against the fast bowler before he got out to Archer which will only be another learning for the young opener. Pujara, as well missed a delivery from Leach that did not spin which forced him to go back for a duck. Rohit looked like he continued from where he left off in Chennai because he never missed a scoring opportunity. India would have loved to have Rohit and Virat batting untill stumps but the latter was dismissed trying to cut a full delivery that chopped on to his off-stump just some time before the end of the day.
The next day defied all norms of test match cricket as 17 wickets fell – all taken by spinners and only 127 runs were scored throughout the day. India collapsed from 99/3 to 145 all out. The uncommon duo of Jack Leach and skipper Joe Root shared nine wickets amongst them. Joe Root finished with astonishing figures of 8/5 in his 6.2 overs. At this point, India were ahead by only 33 runs and the match looked like it was evenly poised. If England would have had one good 50-plus partnership and taken the lead beyond a 100 runs, the chase would have been tricky for India but it was not to be as the same story repeated once again. Axar and Ashwin finishing the job at hand in a jiffy as both of them bowled a continuous spell of around 30 overs in tandem. Most of Axar’s wickets have been yielded from the deliveries that haven’t done much instead of actually spinning away from the right-hander. Ashwin has been in the centre of all the action in the past few months, today for his 400 test wickets. He became the second fastest bowler to the feat (77 tests), only after the great Muralitharan. (72 tests) As England were crumpled out for their lowest total on Indian soil, 81, chasing 49 runs was a mere formality for the Indian openers.
The debate on the pitch has once again come alive after the test match was wrapped up within two days. But, all we can say is that when an Indian team plays on some of the most hostile pitches abroad, they do not complain about the conditions but they look at it as a challenge.
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