Axar Patel’s family used to set up a giant screen in his hometown of Nadiad, about an hour’s drive from Ahmedabad, whenever he appeared in a TV match. Playing a test at Gujarat cricket’s home for the first time, the left-arm spinner derailed England at bat to take the spotlight on Wednesday, day one of the third test.
Axar’s six-wicket draw – his second quarter in as many test appearances – saw England squander the advantage of winning the draw on a corner track for the pink ball test. The visitor side folded for a poor 112 in less than two sessions.
Opening batsman Rohit Sharma continued his silky contact with the willow. His unbeaten fifty helped India end the day 99-for-three at Narendra Modi Stadium, renamed Sardar Patel Stadium (Gujarat) just minutes before the start of the match.
India vs England, 3rd down, day and night downtime Highlights of day one: Rohit 57 * leads India to 99/3; Leach snaps Kohli
Even before Axar was introduced to the attack in the seventh, England – with four changes to their game XI, preferring a lone specialist spinner to Jack Leach – had suffered a blow. Ishant Sharma celebrated his 100th Test appearance in style, forcing Dom Sibley to hit a delivery that increased slightly to give Rohit the practice of catching on the second slip.
Axar didn’t have to wait too long as Jonny Bairstow misinterpreted the straight line, which was the left arm spinner’s first ball of the day. This sparked the tendency for English batsmen to play on the wrong line for the rest of the afternoon.
Ben Stokes, Ollie Pope and Jofra Archer made the same mistake. Senior spinner R. Ashwin tightened the noose in the first session by getting Joe Root’s prized scalp. The England captain was guilty of playing on the rearfoot of a player who missed the inside edge of his bat and hit the pads.
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While Ashwin was impeccable, Axar was rewarded for varying his pace. Bowling in a range from the early 70s to mid 90s km / h, Axar shoved the English batsmen, who appeared to be far from recovering from last week’s debacle at Chepauk. The only exception to regular batting was opener Zak Crawley, who made his first appearance in the series with an impressive inning. Its successive limits off Ishant – a straight walk followed by a mid-wicket whip – were among the highlights of the day.
Moments after turning fifty, he was defeated by Axar’s tank top at the dawn of tea break. It ended in a post-lunch meltdown, with England losing six wickets in 31 races. The Indian forerunners then had to see half an hour before the dinner break.
In the last session, Rohit dealt with Jofra Archer’s shortball stratagem, but Shubman Gill’s over-ambitious attraction resulted in his dismissal. Cheteshwar Pujara then joined the frenzy of playing on the wrong line, giving Leach his first wicket on the fourth ball he faced. The bespectacled spinner ended the day with a wider smile as Captain Virat Kohli played one on the stumps in the last lesson of the day.