Cricket

Day-night Test | Axar spins England to its doom before Rohit steadies India

Axar Patel celebrating after taking the wicket of England cricket team player Zak Crawley during the third Test match between India and England, in Ahmedabad on February 24.   | Photo Credit: PTI

Axar Patel’s family used to put up a giant screen in his hometown Nadiad, around an hour’s drive from Ahmedabad, whenever he played a televised match. Playing a Test match at the home of Gujarat cricket for the first time, the left-arm spinner derailed England batting to hog the limelight on Wednesday, the first day of the third Test.

Axar’s six-wicket haul - his second fifer in as many Test appearances - ensured England could not drive the advantage of winning the toss on a turning track for the pink-ball Test as India bundled out the visiting side for a paltry 112 in less than two sessions.

Day-night Test | Axar spins England to its doom before Rohit steadies India
 

Silken touch

Opening batsman Rohit Sharma continued his silken touch with the willow. Rohit’s unbeaten fifty helped India end the day at 99 for two at the Narendra Modi Stadium, renamed from the Sardar Patel (Gujarat) Stadium minutes before the start of the match.

Even before Axar was introduced into the attack in the seventh over, England - with four changes to its combination, preferring a solitary specialist spinner in Jack Leach - Ishant Sharma had celebrated his 100th Test appearance in style. In his second over, Ishant forced Dom Sibley to poke at one that rose slightly to offer Rohit catching practice at second slip.

Axar didn’t have to wait that long as Jonny Bairstow misread the line off a straight one, which was the left-arm spinner’s first ball of the day. That sparked off the trend of England batsmen playing down the wrong line for the rest of the afternoon.

Same mistake

Ben Stokes, Ollie Pope and Jofra Archer committed the same mistake as Bairstow. Senior spinner R. Ashwin tightened the noose in the first session itself by getting the prize scalp of Joe Root. The England captain was guilty of playing on the backfoot to one that missed the inside-edge of his bat and rapped on to the pads.

While Ashwin was flawless, Axar was rewarded for his variation of pace. Bowling within a range of early 70s to mid-90s kph, Axar bamboozled the England batsmen, who seemed to have far from recovered from the last week’s debacle at Chepauk.

The only exception to ordinary batting was opener Zak Crawley, who played his maiden appearance of the series worth it with an impressive innings. His successive boundaries off Ishant - a straight drive followed by a whip through mid-wicket - were among the highlights of the day.

Moments after he reached his fifty, he was undone by Axar’s skidder on the cusp of tea break. It resulted in a collapse after lunch as England lost six wickets for 31 runs to result in India openers being made to see off around half an hour before the dinner break.

In the last session, Rohit dealt with Jofra Archer’s short-ball ploy but Shubman Gill’s over-ambitious pull resulted in his dismissal. Cheteshwar Pujara then joined the spree of playing down the wrong line off the fourth ball he faced to give Leach his first wicket. The bespectacled spinner ended the day with a wider smile with captain Virat Kohli playing one on to the stumps in the last over of the day.

ENGLAND - 1ST INNINGS

Zak Crawley lbw b Axar 53 (84b, 10x4), Dom Sibley c Rohit b Ishant 0 (7b),

Jonny Bairstow lbw b Axar 0 (9b), Joe Root lbw b Ashwin 17 (37b, 2x4),

Ben Stokes lbw b Axar 6 (24b, 1x4), Ollie Pope b Ashwin 1 (12b), Ben

Foakes b Axar 12 (58b, 1x4), Jofra Archer b Axar 11 (18b, 2x4), Jack

Leach c Pujara b Ashwin 3 (14b), Stuart Broad c Bumrah b Axar 3 (29b),

James Anderson (not out) 0 (3b); Extras (b-1, lb-2, nb-3): 6; Total

(in 48.4 overs): 112.

FALL OF WICKETS

1-2 (Sibley, 2.3 overs), 2-27 (Bairstow, 6.1), 3-74 (Root, 21.5), 4-80

(Crawley, 24.4), 5-81 (Pope, 27.4), 6-81 (Stokes, 28.5), 7-93 (Archer,

34.2), 8-98 (Leach, 37.3), 9-105 (Broad, 46.3).

INDIA BOWLING

Ishant 5-1-26-1, Bumrah 6-3-19-0, Axar 21.4-6-38-6, Ashwin 16-6-26-3.

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Printable version | Apr 22, 2021 5:33:15 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/cricket/india-vs-england-third-test-ahmedabad-motera-pink-ball-day-night-test-first-day/article33922367.ece

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