Pantastic Pant, Ashwin, Axar and Sundar crush England

Rishab Pant

By Kersi Meher-Homji

Oh what a feeling; India overpowering England in the fourth and final Test at Ahmedabad by an innings and winning the series 3-1.

This has been India’s finest showing against England in their battle against them since 1932. And it was England’s worst batting display against all countries since 1909.

After defeating India convincingly in the first Test last month, England was demolished in the next three Tests.

Coming to the fourth Test at Ahmedabad which India triumphed by an innings yesterday in three days.

England won the toss and were bowled out by Indian spinners Axar Patel (4 for 68) and Ravi Ashwin (3 for 47) for 205.

To prove that the pitch was not unplayable, India replied with 365, a lead of 160 runs. Opening batsman Rohit Sharma scored 49 facing England’s experienced speedsters Jimmy Anderson and Ben Stokes with confidence. Later Rishabh Pant hit a majestic century including 13 fours and two sixes. His aggressive batting was “pantastic”.

Washington Sundar

Then 21 year-old Washington Sundar took over. India was struggling at 6 for 146 when he added 113 runs for the seventh wicket with Pant and 106 runs with Axar for the eighth wicket as India totaled 365, a comfortable lead of 160. Sundar was left stranded on 96 not out (hitting 10 fours and a six).

Axar Patel

On the same pitch where India’s number seven batsman Sundar scored an unbeaten 96 and number eight batsman Axar made 43, England was again bowled out for 135 as all-rounder Axar took 5 for 48 and Ashwin 5 for 47. So no one can complain that the pitch was unplayable.

Ravichandran Ashwin

The only England batsmen to score runs in this Test were Ben Stokes 50 and Dan Lawrence 46 and 50. The rest flopped and fell as if they were standing on marbles.

India had won the previous Test by 10 wickets in two days. Hence India trounced England twice in five days ”“ a normal Test span. Amazing.

More than amazing, astonishingly flabbergasting!

Pant was adjudged the Man of the Match and Ashwin the Man of the Series.

A victory over England in this series has confirmed India’s spot in the final of the inaugural World Test Championship (WTC), where they will meet New Zealand. The WTC final is scheduled between June 18 and 22 at a yet-to-be-named venue in England. The International Cricket Council is expected to take the final decision soon.

At the start of this Test series, both India and England were in with a chance of making the final. They both needed to win the series and win it convincingly enough to cross Australia’s point percentage of 69.17. From India’s point of view, a win by at least a 2-1 margin was good enough and they won 3-1.

Handing over the Trophy to Axar Patel who took four 5 wickets in an innings four times in his debut series, a  smiling Kohli said, “I think the comeback [in the second Test] pleased me the most. The first game was an aberration the way we played as a team. The toss played a crucial role and I don’t think the bowlers were in the game at all. The comeback and the way we batted in the second Test match in Chennai… Yes, Axar and Washington are ready and the idea was to have youngsters who came in and perform with fearlessness.

“Rishabh and Washi did it with that game-changing partnership and Axar too. Well, we’re obviously happy to win the series but there are always things to improve. Nothing is a given because every team is an international side. In the future, we will have hiccups but we have to keep ironing them out. Well, Ashwin has been banker for us for the past six-seven years in Test cricket.

“Rohit’s knock was the most defining moment for us coming back [in the series]. Getting 150 on that pitch was as good as getting 250 and it got us into the contest. Throughout the series, he got important knocks and partnerships. Now, we can accept and admit that we are in the WTC final; it was a distraction for us. It did become a bit of distraction for us in New Zealand but we took it one game at a time since.”

Here’s something for those interested in trivia:

In the just concluded Test series, England’s captain Joe Root scored 218 runs in the first innings of the first Test.  In the remaining seven Test innings, England’s batsmen failed to reach Root’s 218; being all out for 178, 134, 164, 112, 81, 205 and 135.

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