England won a crucial toss and opted to bat first in the 3rd Test pink ball against India. The teams were gearing up to play the first historic Test at the newly constructed Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad. But England who won an important toss, began on a rather shaky note, losing Dom Sibley in the third over. Ishant Sharma, playing his 100th Test, got one to straighten off the pitch to force Sibley to edge one to the slip cordon. Axar and Ashwin wonderful spin performance were England is struggling.
How did England fare in the first session?
Zak Crawley who replaced Rory Burns took the aggressive route and played a few well-timed flicks and drives. Just when it seemed as if Crawley was guiding England to safety, Axar Patel fresh from a five-wicket haul struck with his first ball at his home ground by dismissing Jonny Bairstow for a duck. Bairstow played for the turn while Axar bowled a straighter-one and caught the England number 3 plumb in front.
England captain, Joe Root joined Zak Crawley in the middle and the partnership yielded 47 runs. Crawley continued being aggressive of the two batsmen as he continued to deal with boundaries. He soon reached his fifty in just 68 deliveries.
But India, struck once again in the first session when Ravichandran Ashwin won an LBW appeal against Root. The England skipper played back to a delivery which he ideally should have played on the front foot. To make matters for the tourists, Axar got rid of Crawley out at the fag end of the session. He was playing with Crawley beating him multiple times and eventually prized him out. England were 81-4 at Tea break.
Was the 2nd session any better for the visitors?
The 2nd session didn’t prove to be any better for the tourists as they lost 6 wickets for just 31 runs. Ollie Pope was bowled by Ashwin in the first over after Tea while Ben Stokes was immediately dismissed by Axar Patel in the very next over. England were in all sorts of trouble with their top order taken out. The likes of Jofra Archer and Stuart Broad tried providing support to Ben Foakes. But it was too little and too late.
Jofra Archer played all over to an Axar Patel slider and was castled. Jack Leach was caught by Cheteshwar Pujara at 2nd slip off Ashwin’s bowling. Broad tried to slog away but found Jasprit Bumrah at deep square leg. And the last man to be dismissed was England’s wicket-keeper, Ben Foakes. He missed an incoming ball from Patel and had his stumps rattled.
Axar Patel finished with 6 wickets (6-38). His second consecutive 5-wicket haul while Ashwin grabbed 3 wickets (3-26). England were bundled out for 112, their second-lowest score in India. For 4 times in a row this series, that England has been dismissed for less than 200 runs.
The pitch was tough to bat on but it wasn’t unpalatable by any chance. It was the mindset of the English batsmen which has cost them dearly. They have definitely lost the advantage of winning the toss and batting. India on the other hand will be delighted that the spinners have done the damage. The decision to play 3 spinners even with a pink ball stands vindicated.