Ashwin, Axar star as India beats England to take 2-1 lead

Ashwin,

The third test of the ongoing test series between India and England for the Anthony de Mello Trophy 2021 ended with the hosts registering a rare two-day win against the visitors. This was the shortest test match ever played in terms of the number of days. It was played in the largest cricket stadium of the world, the Narendra Modi Stadium of Ahmedabad. The Indian spinners Ravichandran Ashwin and Axar Patel wreaked havoc in both the innings with the ball; and wickets fell in quick succession across the two-day span of the test match.

From the very beginning, this was a match that was eagerly anticipated by cricket fans. It was a day-night test being played with the pink ball in the largest cricket stadium of the world. The hundredth test match of Indian paceman Ishant Sharma and was only the third-day night test match for the hosts. It was the fourth-day night test match for the visitors. However, neither had good records in day-night tests. Therefore this was a match which both sides were looking forward to for proving themselves. The match swung in favour of the hosts; and let us have a look at what exactly happened in the match and its repercussions.

Batting Performances

There were a lot of predictions about the pitch of the stadium even before the match. Most of the predictions indicated that it would favour the spinners instead of pace bowlers, unlike what day night test matches have been known for doing. England had won the toss and decided to bat first. However, their first innings ended at 112, thanks to the bowling performances of the Indian spin duo Ravichandran Ashwin and Axar Patel.

Zak Crawley was the highest scorer in this innings with 53 runs. None of the other English batsmen could cross 20, and even Joe Root was limited to 17. Things did not change for the Indian batsmen either. Rohit Sharma stood out with 66 among a batting line-up in which nobody else could cross 30. Joe Root picked five wickets for eight runs and Jack Leach picked up four wickets to restrict the Indians to 145. The English batsmen were unable to stage a comeback in the third innings and crumbled to 81. With a meagre target of 49, India won the match by 10 wickets.

A total of 17 wickets tumbled in the second day of the test match, which is a record in itself. Although the batsmen put up a poor show on a difficult pitch, it is the bowling performances of the Indians that have stood out in this match.

Indian Bowlers Wreak Havoc

Two names stood out in the entire match – Ravichandran Ashwin and Axar Patel. The two Indian spinners, separated by age but united by courage and motivation picked up most of hr English wickets. Ashwin picked up four wickets in the course of the match and entered the record books by becoming the fourth Indian to pick up 400 wickets in test cricket after Kapil Dev, Anil Kumble and Harbhajan Singh. Local boy Axar Patel, playing a test at home for the first time was the star of the match, having picked five-wicket hauls in both the innings. In the first innings, he picked up six wickets for 38 runs, including those of Jonny Bairstow, Ben Stokes and Ben Foakes. In the second innings, he picked up five scalps for 32 runs, including those of Zak Crawley, Joe Root and Ben Foakes. His final figures stood at 11/70.

World Test Championship Chances

India has made its case stronger for qualifying for the final of the World Test Championship 2020-21 that is slated to be held in June 2021. This win has put England out of contention for the finale of the championship. India needs to win or draw the next test match to qualify for the final. If they lose, then Australia will qualify for the world test championship final. New Zealand has already qualified for the final of the championship.

Conclusion

This match has been very important for both teams. Indian fans especially have been rejoicing this record win of the team as it is now leading the four-match test series 2-1. India is gradually emerging as the contender of the top spot of the ICC test rankings. Currently, it is ranked below New Zealand and is in the second position. It can become the best Test side in the world easily now.