India vs England, 4th Test, Day 3 | India’s Irrepressibles maul the Three Lions, roar into WTC final
Ashwin and Axar split ten in England’s second innings to bowl home side to 3-1 series win.
Washington Sundar ran out of partners to be left within touching distance of what should have been his maiden Test hundred in the morning session. But by the end of the day, the Chennai charmer was full of smiles, alongside his teammates, as India mauled England to not just win the series but also set up a World Test Championship title clash against New Zealand.
Once Washington and Rishabh Pant had bailed India out of trouble at the Narendra Modi Stadium on the second evening, it was only going to be a matter of whether the weekend crowd would celebrate India’s win on Saturday or Sunday. Thanks to yet another accurate, potent spell from India’s spinners and a bizarre batting performance by England, India completed the formalities 42 minutes before the scheduled close of the third day’s play.
Washington and Axar Patel’s 106-run partnership for the eighth wicket meant India stretched its first-innings lead to 160 before being bowled out for 365 just before lunch. R. Ashwin and Axar got into the act thereafter to bundle England out for 135 and register a thumping win by an innings and 25 runs to pocket the series 3-1.
Ashwin strikes twice
If England had to extend the game into the fourth day, it required a solid start to its second innings. With openers Dom Sibley and Zak Crawley having survived the three overs before the break, Ashwin was introduced into the attack upon resumption and he struck twice in his first over.
Ashwin first induced a nick off Crawley’s blade to Ajinkya Rahane at slip. Off the next ball, Jonny Bairstow fell into the ‘leg trap’ for his third duck in four innings. Axar then ran through the middle-order, with first-innings top-scorer Ben Stokes sweeping the left-armer straight to leg gully.
While Axar’s arm-balls were unplayable, Ashwin bamboozled the hapless England batsmen with his artistry. Since Ishant Sharma did not take the field due to pain in his left ankle, the spin twins shared 46.5 of the innings’ 54.5 overs.
Barring Joe Root, who held the fort for more than an hour, only Dan Lawrence, batting at No. 7, offered any substantial resistance. But with no support from the other end, Lawrence (50) was the last man out, his heave against Ashwin resulting in the ball crashing into the stumps, giving the off-spinner his 30th five-wicket haul.
Axar had earlier completed the fourth five-for of his maiden series, playing his part with the ball after having done his bit with bat. He was involved in a flawless partnership with Washington in the morning to bat England out of the game. While Axar rotated the strike, Washington carried on after starting the day on 60.
When Washington was four runs short of the three-figure mark, Axar was late in recovering his ground after going for a non-existent single to be run out off the last ball of Root’s over. It took Stokes just four balls to see the back of Ishant and Mohammed Siraj and leave Washington agonisingly short. But by then, he had done enough to help power India’s magnificent turnaround.
England 1st Innings: 205
India 1st Innings: 365
England 2nd Innings: Zak Crawley c Rahane b Ashwin 5; Dominic Sibley c Pant b Axar 3; Jonny Bairstow c Rohit b Ashwin 0; Joe Root lbw b Ashwin 30; Ben Stokes c Kohli b Axar 2; Ollie Pope st Pant b Axar 15; Daniel Lawrence b Ashwin 19; Ben Foakes c Rahane b Axar 13; Dom Bess c Pant b Axar 2; Jack Leach c Rahane b Ashwin 2, James Anderson not out 1. Extras: (B-4, LB-7) 12
Fall of wickets: 1-10, 2-10, 3-20, 4-30, 5-65, 6-65, 7-109, 8-111, 9-134
India bowling: Mohammed Siraj 4-0-12-0, Axar Patel 24-6-48-5, Ravichandran Ashwin 22.5-4-47-5, Washington Sundar 4-0-16-0.