It was yet another scintillating effort by R Ashwin and Axar Patel as the duo packed England for 135 to help India win the fourth Test by an innings and 25 runs in Ahmedabad on Saturday. With the win, India also clinched the four-match series 3-1 and will now take on New Zealand in the finals of World Test Championship at Lords in June.
Both Axar and Ashwin finished the match with respective five-wicket hauls as the proceedings were wrapped in two and half days.
— BCCI (@BCCI) March 6, 2021
While most former England cricketers blamed the track for their side's defeat in the previous encounter but even Michael Vaughan, who has arguably been the most vocal about the pitches, admitted that the 22-yard strip had almost nothing to do with Root and his team's abject surrender. A case in point could be India's first innings score of 365 and a lead of 160 on the same track where England could cumulatively manage only 340 runs across two innings.
— ICC (@ICC) March 6, 2021
A lot of credit for this victory should go to the indomitable Rishabh Pant, who played the enforcer on the second day with a magnificent hundred, and Washington Sundar, who notched up a chiselled 96.
Meanwhile, Axar stood as a powerhouse performer as he finished the competition with 27 wickets, making him the leading wicket-taker in debut Test series. The previous record was held by former Sri Lanka spinner Ajanta Mendis, who had claimed 26 wickets against India back in 2008 in his debut Test series.
Five-wicket-haul for Axar Patel!
— ICC (@ICC) March 6, 2021
England's demolition began with Ashwin scalping Zak Crawley (5) and Jonny Bairstow (0) in consecutive deliveries. Dom Sibley can blame his luck after the way he was dismissed, which saw the ball hitting Shubman Gill's leg at short-leg and then tossing up in the air for a simple catch, which was completed by Pant.
One had expected two of England's best players in Root (30) and Ben Stokes (2 off 9 balls) to put up a fight but the all-rounder failed to gauge the extra bounce as he went for a sweep shot off Axar, only to find his shot landing straight into the hands of Indian skipper Virat Kohli at leg gully.
Ollie Pope (15) hit Ashwin for a six, which was more desperation than finesse, and it was only a matter of time before he yorked himself as Pant fumbled while gathering but managed to effect a stumping to make it 65/5.
The England skipper could only helplessly look how his colleagues made a mess of Test match batting and Ashwin finally had his number trapping him leg before on the back-foot with another straight ball. The remaining wickets in the post tea session were a mere formality which the spinners completed in due course of time.
Earlier in the day, Washington Sundar kicked-off the proceedings along with Axar from the overnight score of 294/7. The pair added 106 runs for the 8th wicket, helping the hosts gain a formidable position in the contest.
Washington, who completed his third half-century in the traditional format of the game, but fell shy of four runs from notching his maiden ton in Tests as India lost the remaining three batsmen in the span of four wickets.
- with PTI inputs