Indian spinners Axar Patel and R Ashwin tormented England on day one of the third Test to leave the home side in the driving seat in Ahmedabad.
It was an eventful start to a high-stakes third Test at the brand new stadium in Ahmedabad, as India and England went head-to-head in a pink-ball affair which could have a major impact on who reaches the ICC World Test Championship final.
India's spin-bowling duo of Axar Patel and R Ashwin shared nine wickets between them. Patel, who starred on his Test debut in the previous game with a five-wicket haul, returned better figures in the ongoing Test – 6/38 – while Ashwin (3/26) chipped in with three scalps as India bowled England out for 112 late in the second session.
The home side lost Virat Kohli in the final over of the day, reaching stumps on 99/3 with Rohit Sharma (57*) and Ajinkya Rahane (1*) at the crease. Kohli was the third Indian batsman out, after Shubman Gill (11) and Cheteshwar Pujara (0) fell to Jofra Archer and Jack Leach respectively.
Earlier, England skipper Joe Root won the toss and opted to bat. Their opening stand once again didn't last long as Dom Sibley was removed for a duck in the third over by Ishant Sharma, who was making his 100th Test appearance. The India paceman induced an edge with a delivery outside off and the ball flew into the hands of second slip fielder, Rohit.
But Sibley's partner, Zak Crawley, looked confident at the crease from the start and dealt with the moving pink ball without much trouble. He continued to find regular gaps in the next few overs and kept the scoreboard ticking. England lost another wicket on the first ball of the seventh over when Patel had Jonny Bairstow trapped in front for a duck, and that brought Root to the crease.
Crawley and Root steadied the innings and batted with caution. The opener brought up his fourth Test fifty with a four through cover point, reaching the mark in 68 balls. To England's dismay, the steady 47-run third-wicket stand was broken when Ashwin dismissed Root lbw for 17. Things got worse for England in the penultimate over of the first session, as Patel dismissed Crawley in similar fashion for 53, reducing the visitors to 81/4 by tea.
A five-wicket haul in his debut Test ✅— ICC (@ICC) February 24, 2021
A five-wicket haul in his second Test ✅
Axar Patel 👏 pic.twitter.com/p88tgQzHx9
England got off to another shaky start after the break, losing the important wickets of Ollie Pope (1) and Ben Stokes (6) in back-to-back overs from Patel and Ashwin. From there, only Ben Foakes (12) and Archer (11) would manage double-digits scores as the rest of the line-up tumbled.
Patel caused the major damage, claiming his second five-wicket haul in his second Test appearance to help bowl England out for 112.
Gill was the first Indian wicket to fall after dinner, as he attempted to pull Archer but top edged it for Crawley to claim, ending a 33-run opening stand. Five balls later Pujara followed, trapped for a duck by a straight delivery which skidded on from Leach.
Rohit, having survived a tight lbw call earlier on, plundered himself a half-century of 63 balls, bringing up the mark off Stokes' bowling with a tidy flick through mid-wicket. He went on to reach stumps at 57 not-out.
Kohli had been given a lifeline on 24 when a straightforward catch was put down by Pope at point, but Leach claimed the wicket of the Indian skipper when he cut a ball outside off onto his stumps, ending the 64-run third-wicket partnership he and Rohit had built.
India opted against playing the nightwatchman with four balls to go and Rahane ensured they did not regret that decision.
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