INDIA FIX LORD’S DATE WITH KIWIS

Ahmedabad, Mar 06 (PTI):
Axar Patel and Ravichandran Ashwin once again made a mockery of an eternally confused English batting line-up as India cantered into the inaugural World Test Championship final with a resounding innings and 25 run victory on the third afternoon of the fourth and final Test here on Saturday.
All India needed was a draw to book a Lord’s date in June with Kane Williamson’s New Zealand but Patel (24-6-48-5), in company of Ashwin (22.5-4-47-5), literally blew England away in a session and half for a paltry 135 in 54.5 overs to complete a 3-1 rout, ensuring that the Anthony De Mello Trophy will stay at the Cricket Centre in Mumbai.
It was another two and half days finish but even the most partisan England experts like their former skipper Michael Vaughan have admitted that the 22-yard strip had almost nothing to do with their side’s abject surrender.
A case in point could be India’s first innings score of 365 and a lead of 160 on the same track where England could cumulatively manage only 340 runs across two innings. “The comeback in Chennai pleased me the most. The first game was an aberration and England outplayed us,” said India skipper Virat Kohli at the post-match presentation.
“Every team in international cricket is a quality side and we need to work hard to beat them, even at home. Keeping that intensity going is most important and is the hallmark of our team.”
Atrocious application and unbelievably poor mindset while playing spinners cost the Englishmen dearly during the last three Tests and skipper Joe Root had little to offer in terms of explanation.
“We haven’t matched India in the last three, and we need to keep learning and keep getting better for this experience and this series, and we need to keep evolving and move forward,” admitted Root.
This was one Test match where Indians, even before a ball being bowled, created an illusion of a turning track. It was a ploy of playing with the minds of a team that was already in a negative zone.
There wasn’t much turn but enough to ensure that the visitors wilted under pressure as Patel’s series tally stood at highest for a newcomer (27) while man of the series Ashwin was peerless as ever with 32 scalps in his kitty. A lot of credit for this victory should go to the indomitable Rishabh Pant, who played the enforcer on the second day with a magnificent hundred, and Washington Sundar, who notched up a chiselled 96.
These two knocks literally made it impossible for England to make a comeback as a total of 365 seemed like 650.
The coming of age of Pant as a real replacement for the iconic Mahendra Singh Dhoni and emergence of Washington as a potent batting all-rounder only augurs well for the team.
With shoulders already drooping after the humilation inflicted by Pant and Washington, England’s openers Zak Crawley (5, 16 balls), Dom Sibley (3, 21 balls) and Jonny Bairstow (0, 1 ball) seemed like “walking wickets” at the start of the post-lunch session.
One had expected two of England’s best players in Joe Root (30) and Ben Stokes (2 off 9 balls) to put up a fight but the all-rounder failed to gauge the extra bounce as he went for a sweep shot off Patel.
Kohli accepted the dolly at leg slip as England’s resistance was blown away at 30 for 4.
Ollie Pope (15) hit Ashwin for a six, which was more desperation than finesse, and it was only a matter of time before he yorked himself as Pant fumbled while gathering but managed to effect a stumping to make it 65 for 5.
The England skipper could only helplessly look how his colleagues made a mess of Test match batting and Ashwin finally had his number trapping him leg before on the back-foot with another straight ball. The remaining wickets in the post tea session were a mere formality which the spinners completed in due course of time.

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