Axar Patel crashes into pink-ball occasion


Ahmedabad, February 24

Spinner Axar Patel claimed a career-best 6/38 as India bundled out England for 112 on the opening day to put themselves in the box seat in the Day/Night third Test here today.

Rohit Sharma then helped the hosts weather a top-order wobble of their own and finish an eventful 13-wicket day on 99/3. Rohit was batting on 57 at stumps with Ajinkya Rahane on one at the other end with India eyeing a handy first-innings lead. Earlier, Joe Root’s decision to bat backfired as the tourists folded in 48.4 overs inside two seasons despite Zak Crawley’s stroke-filled 53.

On a track where the ball spun from the first session, the English batsmen repeatedly played for the turn and got beaten by the straight ball instead. They made four changes to their playing XI but their rejigged top order let them down.

Playing his 100th Test, seamer Ishant Sharma dismissed Dom Sibley in the third over before the spinners took over. Left-arm spinner Patel trapped Jonny Bairstow lbw for nought with his first delivery.

At the other end, Crawley appeared to bat on a different pitch, dealing mostly in boundaries and bringing up his fifty off 68 balls.

Before his partnership with Root could really flourish, Ravichandran Ashwin (3/26) intervened. The wily off-spinner dismissed Root lbw for 17. The England captain reviewed the decision but could not get it overturned.

Patel ended Crawley’s knock in similar fashion to trigger a batting collapse and England lost their last eight wickets for 38 runs. It was a sense of deja vu for England who were dismissed for 58 in their previous pink-ball Test in New Zealand three years ago.

India did not find scoring easy either against the swinging pink ball in the final session. The usually fluent Shubman Gill took 27 balls to open his account while Rohit mixed caution with occasional aggression in his unbeaten fifty. Jofra Archer dismissed Gill for 11 and Jack Leach removed Cheteshwar Pujara for a duck but Rohit’s 64-run partnership with Virat Kohli helped India maintain their upper hand in the contest.

Ollie Pope dropped Kohli at gully but Leach dismissed him when the India captain chopped a delivery onto his stumps to depart for 27 in the final over. — Reuters

For a change, spinners on top in a D/N Test

Ahmedabad: The rebuilt stadium in Motera gave a new twist to pink-ball Test cricket with spinners bucking the trend and dominating, whereas fast bowlers have held sway in such games in the past. Before this Test, 354 wickets (at 24.47 runs per wicket) had been taken by pace bowlers in 15 Day/Night Tests, as against 115 by spinners, at 35.38 runs per wicket. Today, however, India’s seamers bowled just 11 bowlers, picking one wicket while the spinners took nine scalps, bowling 37.4 overs on a surface that has less grass than is usually required for a pink-ball Test. Left-arm spinner Axar Patel (6/38) and off-spinner R Ashwin (3/26) shared nine wickets as England struggled, partly because of the pitch that began to help spin early and partly because of their decision to play spin on the back foot. There had been talk of how pace bowlers would dominate this Test. TNS, agencies



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