AHMEDABAD: 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 in Ahmedabad on Wednesday.
Rohit Sharma then helped the hosts weather a top-order wobble of their own and finish an eventful 13-wicket day on 99-3.
The right-handed opener 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.
Around 40,000 fans thronged the world’s largest cricket stadium which was named after India Prime Minister Narendra Modi earlier on Wednesday.
ENGLAND (1st innings):
Z. Crawley lbw b Patel 53
D. Sibley c R. Sharma b I. Sharma 0
J. Bairstow lbw b Patel 0
J. Root lbw b Ashwin 17
B. Stokes lbw b Patel 6
O. Pope b Ashwin 1
B. Foakes b Patel 12
J. Archer b Patel 11
J. Leach c Pujara b Ashwin 3
S. Broad c Bumrah b Patel 3
J. Anderson not out 0
EXTRAS (B-1, LB-2, NB-3) 6
TOTAL (all out, 48.4 overs) 112
FALL OF WKTS: 1-2, 2-27, 3-74, 4-80, 5-81, 6-81, 7-93, 8-98, 9-105.
BOWLING: I. Sharma 5-1-26-1 (nb1), Bumrah 6-3-19-0 (nb1), Patel 21.4-6-38-6, Ashwin
INDIA (1st innings):
R. Sharma not out 57
S. Gill c Crawley b Archer 11
C. Pujara lbw Leach 0
V. Kohli b Leach 27
A. Rahane not out 1
EXTRAS (B-2, W-1) 3
TOTAL (for 3 wkts, 33 overs) 99
FALL OF WKTS: 1-33, 2-34, 3-98.
TO BAT: R. Pant, W. Sundar, R. Ashwin,
A. Patel, J. Bumrah, I. Sharma.
BOWLING: Anderson 9-6-11-0, Broad
6-1-16-0. Archer 5-2-24-1, Leach 10-1-27-2, Stokes 3-0-19-0 (1w).
UMPIRES: Anil Chaudhary and Nitin Menon (both India).
TV UMPIRE: Chettihody Shamshuddin (India).
MATCH REFEREE: Javagal Srinath (India).
Published in Dawn, February 25th, 2021