It was a dominant display from start to finish as Virat Kohli’s men emerged on top to thrash England in the fourth Test and secure the series 3-1. Axar Patel and R Ashwin once again spun their web while Rishabh Pant and Washington Sundar bedazzled with the bat as India sealed their spot in the World Test Championship (WTC) final against New Zealand.
Pant, playing his fearless brand of cricket, scored a brilliant 101 off 118 balls laced with 13 fours and 2 sixes. 21-year-old Washington also complemented Pant by adding 96 off 174. It was again ‘The Axar-Ashwin show’ on the third day as the duo rocked England’s top-order.
India made a bright start to the second session of Day 3 as Ashwin plucked two wickets in two balls (Zak Crawley and Jonny Bairstow) to put the visitors on the backfoot. Minutes after England slumped to 10/2, Axar also chipped in and dismissed Dom Sibley and Ben Stokes. Apart from skipper Joe Root (30) and Dan Lawrence (50), none of the other England batsmen were able to show resistance on the Motera wicket. Both Axar and Ashwin scalped five wickets each in the second innings.
Earlier in the day, Washington and Axar started the day as overnight batsmen and scored runs at a brisk rate. The first hour saw the duo stitching 50 runs as both the left-handers punished a weary-looking English attack on bad deliveries. Washington and Axar (43 off 97 balls) added an invaluable 106-run partnership for the eighth wicket.
Sundar, however, remained stranded on 96 when he ran out of partners, as India were all out for 365 in their first innings after gaining a vital lead of 160 runs. Washington stitched a crucial stand with Axar before India lost their last three wickets in a space of just five balls. Axar was run out against the run of play before Stokes cleaned up India’s tail, finishing with four wickets in his kitty.
On the previous day, Pant struck a magnificent century to put India in the driver’s seat. Pant changed the pace of his innings and his reverse-sweep against James Anderson was a testament to his fearless mindset. Pant came into bat with India reeling at 80 for four after losing Virat Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane in quick succession. He put on a 41-run stand with Rohit Sharma for the fifth wicket and then a 113-run partnership with Sundar.