4TH TEST, DAY 3 HIGHLIGHTS: INDIA CRUSH ENGLAND TO QUALIFY FOR WORLD TEST CHAMPIONSHIP FINAL
This young Indian brigade knows no fear! And it’s no fluke that this young Indian brigade once again bounced back after being cornered in the first Test at Chennai to seal the four-match series against England 3-1 and qualify for the World Test Championship Final!
Virat Kohli and his boys clinched the 4th Test by an innings and 25 runs after bowling England out for 135 runs in the second innings at Motera on Saturday.
Ravichandran Ashwin and Axar Patel took five wickets each to bring down curtains on the English innings after Washington Sundar’s fiery 96* helped India post 365 in the first innings earlier today. Patel’s contribution of 43 runs to the team’s cause also must be rated as one of his best knocks under pressure.
With this series victory, India have now 13 consecutive series wins at home, unbeaten since 2013! India’s recovery in this Test has been phenomenal. At one point they were in a spot of bother, losing 4 wickets for just 80 runs. Rishabh Pant’s sublime 101 and Sundar’s 96* facilitated the hosts’ road to recovery and underlined the firepower of the youth that has time and again brought India out of the dumps even in the series Down Under.
Patel’s 27-wicket haul in the series and another fifer in the last inning goes on to show India’s bench strength has only been improving. When Ravindra Jadeja recovers from his injury, India will have quite a challenge on their plate to choose the playing XI. What’s amazing is the way these youngsters are focusing on both batting and bowling to carve themselves out as potent all-round options which India had been lacking for quite a long time.
“Our bench strength is as strong as it’s ever been and that’s a great sign for Indian cricket. The idea was exactly this, to have youngsters who come in and perform with fearlessness so that when the transition happens, it’s not difficult for Indian cricket and the standard doesn’t fall below what we have set in the last few years,” said India captain Virat Kohli after the match.
With the likes of Pant improving every day behind the stumps and performing each time with the bat when the team needs him allows India to play an extra bowler which has turned out to be a boon in this series. Ashwin’s rise as an all-rounder has been another tale that India would love to proudly narrate. He won the Man of the Series for taking 33 wickets in the series as he became the first Indian to take 30+ scalps in Test series twice, his first (31 wickets) coming in 2015 against the Proteas.
The World No.1 Test side, who currently tops the table of the World Test Championship, will now take on New Zealand in the Final at Lord’s, starting from June 18. The Indian skipper, who was reluctant to talk about the Championship as long as this series didn’t reach its logical conclusion, finally opened up on Saturday and said, “Now we can accept and admit that we are in the final. We are a side that’s really committed to playing Test cricket and all these extra things can be a great distraction. We were just focusing on one game at a time and now that we are in the final, we can’t wait to be a part of it.”