D/N Test: Ashwin, Axar help India take 2-1 lead over England with 10-wicket win
On a tricky pitch, the Indian cricket team took just 7.4 overs to chase down 49 runs and take a 2-1 lead over England in the four-match test series. The third Test match (D/N Test) lasted just 139.8 overs which less than two days.
With this, India has gone to the top of the World Test Championship (WTC) table and are one win/draw away from taking on New Zealand in the final at the Lords. Having lost this Test, England is officially out from making a run for the finals. However, if England wins the next Test against India, then Australia will be playing New Zealand in the WTC final.
The third Test match was played at the newly furnished and renamed Narendra Modi stadium. Once again, the pitch was in focus as many English supporters were unhappy with the turn generated at Motera stadium on day one. However, 21 out of the 30 wickets fell to straight deliveries and not turning deliveries. This means that the wickets fell as the spinners planted doubts in the minds of the batsmen. Both teams found it difficult to bat on the pitch that was offering a lot of turn.
England had won the toss and elected to bat first. When the visitors announced their team, many eyebrows were raised as captain Joe Root decided to go with three pacers – James Anderson, Stuart Broad and Jofra Archer – and just one spinner – Jack Leach. This was a grave mistake in team selection.
On the other hand, India went with a slightly different playing XI with two pacers – Ishant Sharma and Jasprit Bumrah and the three spinners – Axar Patel, Ravichandran Ashwin and Washington Sundar. According to reports, the pitch was quite dry and spinners have a big role to play in it.
Playing his 100th Test match, Ishant gave India a dream start as he got the first wicket. But after that, it was all spin. India’s new spin bowling duo of Ashwin and Axar spun a web around the England batsmen, picking nine wickets between them. Axar picked up his maiden six-wicket haul on his home turf and Ashwin picked up four. England opener Zak Crawly batted sensibly to make a half-century but other batsmen failed miserably. India bowled out England for 112 in the first innings.
Seeing the ball turn so much, India were quite confident as England had only one spinner. Indian openers Rohit Sharma and Shubman Gill gave India a decent start. England were desperately missing another proper spinner. Skipper Virat Kohli and Rohit steadied the ship with the latter getting to half a century. However, before stumps on day one, Kohli was dismissed.
On day two, India felt that if they could defend well against Leach, they could go after other bowlers. However, England came out with a different plan to help Leach by putting pressure from the other end. That plan was to have England skipper Joe Root bowl his off-breaks. Known more as a temporary bowler, Root ran through the Indian middle and lower order picking his maiden five-wicket haul and giving away just eight runs in 6.2 overs. India faced a horrendous collapse as they fell from 98-3 to 145-10. Leach picked four wickets. While Indian batsmen prepared for Leach, Root was out of the syllabus.
With a slender lead of just 33 runs, India needed to get England out under 100 runs and for that, they needed 10 wickets. Axar continued his exceptional form and picked up a wicket in the first ball of the second innings. He picked up 2 wickets in the very first over giving India a dream start.
Ashwin entered from the other end a picked up quick wickets. In the process, Ashwin reached a major milestone when he dismissed Archer to become the second-fastest bowler to reach 400 Test wickets. Ashwin reached this landmark in 77 Test matches. Sri Lankan legend Muttiah Muraleedharan took just 72 Tests to get to 400 club. India bundled out England for 81 runs which is the lowest the latter has scored against the former in Tests.
Chasing just 49 runs, Rohit and Gill made sure India chased down the score in no time.
With the next Test match at the Motera stadium, England and India will have to work out a strategy to play Indian spinners.