India demolish England in 2 days, take 2-1 series lead

India demolish England twice in two days, take 2-1 lead in series despite first innings collapse

Spinners ruled the contest claiming 28 of the 30 wickets that fell on the viciously turning track

Spinners ruled the contest claiming 28 of the 30 wickets that fell on the viciously turning track. Credit: @BCCI

Even as an embarrassing day unfolded at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Motera, the disheartening realisation that batsmen from this era don’t have the skills, let alone heart, to bat on tricky pitches is what one has to come to terms with.

It even dampened the fact that India won the third Test by 10 wickets to go 2-1 up in the four-match series.  

Thriving on a steady diet of either placid tracks or so-called sporting surfaces, batsmen have grown entitled to big runs and blink-and-you-miss records. So much so that at the first sign of trouble, they condemn pitches and umpires but never themselves and their abysmal technique.

On Wednesday though, the endemic reflected the true extent of its reach when both India and England lost 28 wickets combined to spinners.

No doubt the spinners from both sides were good - Axar Patel and R Ashwin in particular - and the challenging pitch was of use to them, but to close out a Test in under two days is unacceptable.

The day began with Rohit Sharma, overnight 57, and Ajinkya Rahane living a cushioned life against James Anderson, the only seamer used on the day, but once Jack Leach (4/54) came on, it was trouble in paradise.

And a very real anxiety reared its head when Joe Root brought himself on and ended with figures of 5 for 8 from 6.2 overs as the hosts went from 99 for 3 in response to England’s 112 all out in the first innings.

The laughable collapse (7 wickets for 31 runs) evoked memories of Michael Clarke’s show against India in Mumbai as the left-arm spinner scalped 6 wickets for 9 runs in 2004. But India won that game by 13 runs so until England did better than they did on the opening day, it was Virat Kohli’s victory to have.

Root and Co didn’t. Somehow, they did worse against an uncomplicated Axar and a record-breaking Ashwin. While Ashwin reached his 400-scalp mark from 77 Tests (second fastest to the mark behind Muttiah Muralitharan and the fourth Indian to 400 wickets) with a full ball to trap Jofra Archer in the 24th over, Axar bowled sliders ad nauseam and yet, England never got the memo.

With Axar bagging 5/32 and Ashwin picking up 4/48, England were bowled out for 81 to leave the hosts with 49 runs to win the Test. Also, virtually seal their progress to the finals of the World Test Championship.

India will need just a draw in the fourth Test here to face New Zealand in June.

Here’s a statistic worth forgetting: this is the shortest Test match since the 1935 contest between West Indies and England at Bridgetown. That game witnessed 672 balls and this match was done in 842 deliveries. This also happens to be the shortest Test involving India.   

What unfolded here was a poor advertisement for the longest format, even Virat Kohli admitted so in the post-match press conference. Those with a bat in hand should work on an art form many still hold dear.

India knock out England

India knocked England out of contention from the ICC World Test Championship (WTC) final in June with their 10-wicket triumph here which propelled the hosts to the top of the standings.

India now have to either win or draw the final game here starting March 4 to claim the right to take on New Zealand at the Lord’s. The Black Caps have already qualified and are placed second in the latest list.

If India lose the final Test then Australia, who are in third place with 69.2 percentage points, will sneak in to make the final.

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