India’s 3-1 series win sees them reach the final of the ICC World Test Championship against New Zealand this summer, qualifying at the expense of Australia
England crumbled to defeat by an innings and 25 runs inside three days of the fourth Test in Ahmedabad, as India’s spinners again took centre stage to clinch a 3-1 series win.
With India earning a 160-run first-innings lead, England’s top-order was once again decimated by Axar Patel (5-48) and Ravichandran Ashwin (5-47) and, though Dan Lawrence (50) provided some stubborn resistance with a fine fifty, the tourists were eventually bundled out for 135.
England had tried desperately to fight their way back into proceedings on day two, reducing their hosts to 146-6 in reply to their first innings score of 205, before Rishabh Pant wrestled the advantage India’s way with a sparkling century.
And the hangover from Pant’s onslaught was evident early on the third morning as, despite England needing just three more wickets, Washington Sundar (96no) and Axar (43) cashed in on a desperately weary bowling attack, adding a further 71 runs to India’s lead before a wicket finally came – courtesy only of a run out.
It ultimately took the tourists just five deliveries run through the tail, leaving a sorry Sundar stranded four short of a maiden Test ton – Ben Stokes seeing off Ishant Sharma and Mohammed Siraj in quick succession to finish with richly-deserved figures of 4-89 for his tireless 27.4 overs of toil.
England survived three overs through to lunch, but after the break came the predictable procession of wickets as the visitors stumbled to 30-4 as Stokes (2) departed, and then 65-6 with the fall of captain Joe Root (30).
Lawrence and Foakes (13) hung around, sharing in a 44-run stand for the seventh wicket to at least ensure the game was taken into the final session of the day, but Axar and Ashwin soon were among the wickets again to mop up the tail.
Victory for India ensures that they will play in the final of the ICC World Test Championship against New Zealand this summer, qualifying at the expense of Australia.
Early on in the third day’s play, it became quickly apparent that England had little left in the tank in the field, with their creaking seamers James Anderson (3-44) and Stokes continuing to be called upon as spinners Jack Leach (2-89) and Dom Bess (0-71) struggled to control the scoring even on a helpful surface.
Sundar immediately targeted the badly out-of-sorts Bess, smashing the offspinner out of the attack after just two overs with a six straight down the ground. The shot took India’s lead to 100, which soon became 150 as Sundar and Axar brought up a century stand in the process.
With very little threat to either batsman, it was no real surprise then that the breakthrough came courtesy of a run out as Axar was sent back by his partner when halfway down the pitch looking for a quick single.
Perhaps adding only to England’s frustration, it then took them only a further five deliveries to wrap up the innings, with Stokes pinning Ishant plumb in front first ball and then clean-bowling Siraj for a classic tailender’s dismissal.
India’s lead was far too great to overcome, however, especially with such skilful operators as Axar and Ashwin to deal with on a pitch now turning square.
Zak Crawley (5) was first to fall, edging to slip when understandably playing for turn a ball after Ashwin had ripped one down legside that had pitched on a similar line.
Jonny Bairstow’s mode of dismissal was more egregious, simply serving up catching practice to leg slip as he steered his first ball straight to Rohit Sharma round the corner. Ashwin was on a hat-trick.
Root survived the subsequent delivery and was his usual busy self on his way to a reasonable score in the context of the innings, but wickets continued to tumble at the other end.
Dom Sibley (3) was one of the more unfortunate batsmen of the bunch, as he crunched a sweep shot into Subman Gill’s pad at short leg which then ballooned up to wicketkeeper Pant.
After Stokes fell, lap-sweeping Axar straight to the man positioned at leg slip, Root and Ollie Pope (15) briefly hung around, with the latter even hitting a sumptuous straight six down the ground.
When looking come down the pitch again to Axar, however, Pope perished as he got his feet in a tangle and ended up stumped. Two balls later, Root was trapped lbw playing back to Ashwin.
Lawrence and Foakes resisted India’s spinners for 18 overs, with the former notching a second Test fifty late on, but that was about as good as it got for the visitors, with Lawrence the final wicket to fall as England slipped to a third-straight heavy defeat.
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