3RD TEST, DAY 2 HIGHLIGHTS: FAST & FURIOUS AXAR-ASHWIN SCRIPT MASSIVE INDIA WIN
A day with twists and turns and records that produced one of the most unpredictable Test matches on Indian soil - that's how we can summarize India's 10-wicket win over England in the Pink Ball Test at the Narendra Modi Stadium, Motera, on Thursday. A massive 17 wickets fell on the second day and Axar Patel was in the thick of things once again.
Axar became the first ever Indian to pick up three consecutive fifers across his debut and second Test. He returned 5-32 in the second innings to end up with 11 wickets (6-38 in first innings) in the match.
"This feels good. It looks easy (taking two five wicket hauls here) when it happens. All I want now is to continue with this form without thinking too much. I just try to keep the ball wicket-to-wicket and that's fetching me results. So, I will stick to it," said the left-arm orthodox bowler, who was adjudged the Man of the Match for his brilliant show.
Ravichandran Ashwin (4-48) on the other hand became the second quickest to reach the 400-wicket club with the scalp of Jofra Archer. He completed the feat in 77 Test matches, while Sri Lankan legendary spinner Muttiah Muralitharan achieved the same in 72 appearances.
The duo of Ashwin and Axar shared 9 wickets among themselves to rip through the England batting line-up, dismissing them for their lowest ever Test score against India - 81 - in the second innings. Needing 49 runs to win, Rohit Sharma (25*) and Shubman Gill (15*) barely broke a sweat to take India over the line for a 2-1 lead in the series.
In Skipper Virat Kohli's own words, this was a "bizarre" Test match we have witnessed where the pacers didn't get to bowl even one over in the second innings, while the third spinner Washington Sundar got a chance to roll his arms for 4 balls in which he picked up the final wicket (James Anderson) of the England innings.
"The speed at which things were moving, there was no chance for anyone else to step in. (Jasprit) Bumrah said that 'I'm getting workload management while playing' and Ishant (Sharma) told me 'I'm not getting to bowl in my 100th Test'. All I could say was blame Axar for bowling in areas that was making life so much difficult for the batsmen," Kohli quipped.
The Indian skipper also felt that the pitch was not that terrible to bat on as it was made out to be. "I think it's just lack of application from both teams' batsmen. The ball was coming on the bat nicely in the first innings apart from a few odd balls. So, I would say it's a below-par batting performance from both sides. But our bowlers were much more effective and hence we got the result," he pointed.
India and England will now play their final Test at the same venue from March 4. India will need a win or a draw to qualify for the Test World Championship Final, scheduled to be held from June 18, 2021, at Lord's.