Thanks to Joe Root bowling possibly the spell of his life, England started the second afternoon with a spark. But even before the ring of fire at Motera was illuminated to full dazzle, the spark had been extinguished.
A combination of a strip that made life difficult for batsmen with every passing over, accurate bowling from India’s spin twins and another ordinary performance by England’s batsmen meant the third Test ended with India registering a facile win to take a 2-1 lead in the four-match series.
Seventeen wickets fell for 176 runs on Thursday, resulting in India winning what turned out to be the shortest completed Test (in terms of balls) since World War II.
Starting the day at 99 for three after dismissing England for a paltry 112, India was skittled out for 145, finding few answers to Root’s off-spin (five for eight) and Jack Leach’s left-arm spin (four for 54).
But Axar Patel and R. Ashwin then took over, dragging the game back India’s way. The spin duo bowled virtually unchanged to wind up England’s second essay in a session for a meagre 81 — its lowest, and first two-digit, total against India.
A target of 49 was far from challenging for India, with openers Rohit Sharma and Shubman Gill completing the formalities in 46 balls. Rohit hoicked Root over cow corner for the winning shot 20 minutes after the dinner break.
On a day that saw spinners dominate right from the word go, thanks to a deceptive pitch, India taught England yet another lesson in a game that witnessed a spree of records.
It was only the second instance of a Test in India finishing in less than two days. Moreover, when Ashwin trapped Jofra Archer in front of the wickets, he became the second-fastest bowler to 400 Test scalps.
While Ashwin deservedly got a standing ovation from the crowd, it was his junior partner Axar who hogged the limelight for the second successive day.
Nursing a slender lead of 33, India had to strike early in England’s second innings. Axar ended England’s remote hopes of staging a comeback by castling Zak Crawley and Jonny Bairstow within the space of the first three balls. While Crawley was bowled off a straight ball, Bairstow was done between bat and pad.
England never seemed to recover. Ashwin and Axar bowled in good areas to let the pitch do its tricks and the England batsmen staged a meek surrender. The ball of the day came when Ashwin sneaked past Ollie Pope’s defences for his 399th wicket.
Root scalps five
Earlier in the afternoon, Root, the off-spinner, brought England back into the game. Once the industrious Leach had got rid of overnight batsmen Ajinkya Rahane (trapped in front on the back foot) and Rohit Sharma (adjudged lbw after missing a sweep) in the first half hour, Root took over.
He saw the back of the left-handed batting trio of Rishabh Pant (caught behind), Washington Sundar (bowled by a beauty that turned after pitching on middle to hit the top of off) and Axar Patel (caught at short cover).
The England captain then wound up the innings by snaring Ashwin (top-edged sweep to deep square-leg) and Jasprit Bumrah (lbw) to complete his five-wicket haul.
But yet another lacklustre display with the bat resulted in Root having few reasons to smile at the end of the day.
England: 112 and 81 in 30.4 overs (Ben Stokes 25, Axar Patel 5/32, Ravichandra Ashwin 4/48).
India: 145 all out and 49 for no loss in 7.4 overs (Rohit Sharma 25 not out, Shubman Gill 15 not out).
List of Test matches which ended on Day 2
Following is the list of Tests worldwide which ended on Day 2 with a result before India's win over England in the day-night third match in Motera on Thursday.
1) England vs Australia at The Oval on 28 Aug 1882: Australia won
2) England vs Australia at Lord's on 16 Jul 1888: Australia won
3) England vs Australia at The Oval on 13 Aug 1888: England won
4) England vs Australia in Manchester on 30 Aug 1888: England won
5) South Africa vs England in Port Elizabeth on 12 Mar 1889: England won
6) South Africa vs England in Cape Town on 25 Mar 1889: England won
7) England vs Australia in The Oval on 11 Aug 1890: England won
8) South Africa vs England in Port Elizabeth on 13 Feb 1896: England won
9) South Africa vs England in Cape Town on 21 Mar 1896: England won
10) Australia vs South Africa in Manchester on 27 May 1912: Australia won
11) England vs South Africa in The Oval on 12 Aug 1912: England won
12) England vs Australia in Nottingham on 28 May 1921: Australia won
13) Australia vs West Indies in Melbourne on 13 Feb 1931: Australia won
14) South Africa vs Australia in Johannesburg on 15 Feb 1936: Australia won
15) New Zealand vs Australia in Wellington on 29 Mar 1946: Australia won
16) England vs West Indies in Leeds on 17 Aug 2000: England won
17) Australia vs Pakistan in Sharjah on 11 Oct 2002: Australia won
18) South Africa vs Zimbabwe in Cape Town on 4 Mar 2005: South Africa won
19) Zimbabwe vs New Zealand in Harare on 7 Aug 2005: New Zealand won
20) South Africa vs Zimbabwe in Port Elizabeth on 26 Dec 2017: South Africa won
21) India vs Afghanistan in Bengaluru on 14 Jun 2018: India won.