Axar Picks 6, Rohit Scores 50 to Put India on Top Against England

Live updates from Day 1 of the Pink Ball Test between India and England in Ahmedabad at the Narendra Modi Stadium.

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Cricket
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Rohit Sharma drives for a boundary during the first innings of the Pink Ball Test against England at Ahmedabad. 
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India picked up from where they had left off in Chennai in the third Test in Ahmedabad as Axar Patel picked 6 wickets to skittle out England for 112 before the Dinner Break on Day 1 at the Narendra Modi Stadium.

England, somewhat, clawed their way back midway through the final session with three wickets including those of Cheteshwar Pujara and Virat Kohli to Jack Leach as India finished 13 runs behind with seven wickets in hand at the end of the day.

India picked 4 wickets in the opening session, Ishant Sharma, playing his 100th Test, started things off before Axar Patel and R Ashwin took charge. After the Tea break, Axar went on to complete his second five-wicket haul. India’s spinners Axar and Ashwin picked 9 wickets while Washington Sundar did not need to bowl.

England captain Joe Root won the toss and promptly decided to bat first in the afternoon.

England, who were looking to put on a big first innings score like they did in the first Test in Chennai, played out a couple of quiet overs first from Jasprit Bumrah and Ishant.

Openers Dom Sibley and Zak Crawley however could not keep the partnership going for very long as Ishant drew first blood. Sibley edged it to Rohit Sharma in the slip cordon, who snapped up an easy catch as England lost their first wicket with the score on 2.

Axar Patel and Virat Kohli celebrate the wicket of Zak Crawley. 
Axar Patel and Virat Kohli celebrate the wicket of Zak Crawley. 
Image: BCCI

Crawley and Jonny Bairstow had quite the task on hand in front of a noisy crowd at the new stadium. The opener smacked five crisp boundaries to get the scoreboard moving for England before India struck again.

Virat Kohli introduced spin into the attack in the seventh over of the innings with Axar Patel, who immediately responded by trapping Bairstow LBW for 0. The batsman reviewed the decision in vain as as England lost their second wicket for 27.

In walked captain Joe Root and along side the very fluent Crawley kept India at bay for a while, even though R Ashwin had got into his groove and was bowling very probing lines and lengths.

Crawley, who was picking out gaps for fun, played a series of handsome shots to on his way to a half century peppered with ten boundaries. Root at the other kept chipping away too.

The England captain however was eventually beaten in flight by Ashwin, bowling round the wicket, and trapped LBW for 17. Root immediately reviewed the decision but was left with no choice other than making the long walk back to the pavilion. England were three down in the first session with India firmly on top.

With the Tea break fast approaching, Axar Patel, who like Ashwin had been dishing out some top quality bowling, struck again. Crawley was beaten by the slider as Axar trapped him LBW for 53.

England were 80/4 at the time with Ollie Pope joining Ben Stokes in the middle. The visitors added one run as the batters played out the remaining couple of overs before the players went in for Tea.

Right after Tea, it took Ashwin, who is chasing his 400th Test wicket, four deliveries to strike. He beat Pope in flight after setting him up and hit the top of off stump to clean up the right hander for 1.

Off the next over, five in, Axar beat Stokes, who was on the back foot, and trapped him LBW for 6. Stokes reviewed it immediately in vain as England were reduced to 81/6, as they lost two wickets for no runs in the first two overs of the second session.

Ishant Sharma ahead of his 100th Test
Ishant Sharma ahead of his 100th Test
Image: BCCI

Neither Ben Foakes or Jofra Archer found it any easier. The pacer smacked a couple of boundaries before yet another arm ball from Axar castled him.

India’s spinners continued in their merry ways as Ashwin had Jack Leach edging to Cheteshwar Pujara for 3. Ashwin with 397 Test wickets to his name.

Half way through the day, England were at 98/8 and in quite a bit of trouble as the visitors collapsed and lost their last 6 wickets for 24 runs.

After that, Stuart Broad held out for 29 deliveries before he fell trying to slog sweep Axar Patel, who completed his five-wicket haul as Bumrah completed the catch at square-leg.

Ben Foakes played out another over at his end before Axar wrapped up the innings by knocking over the wicket-keeper batsman for 12 and bowl out England for 112.

India’s openers Rohit Sharma and Shubman Gill survived the remaining 5 overs in the session and took the team to the Dinner Break with the score at 5/0. There was a moment of drama in that phase too as an edge from Gill of Stuart Broad was adjudged as caught by Ben Stokes initially, before replays proved otherwise, much to England’s dislike.

Gill, in the final session of the day, would be the first to fall after a mishit pull shot against Jofra Archer gave Zak Crawley a catch at square leg. Gill departed for 11.

Off the next over, Cheteshwar Pujara was trapped LBW by Jack Leach for a rare 0, leaving India at 34/2, and the crowd silent.

Indian captain Virat Kohli joined the fluent Rohit Sharma and the duo were severe on the loose deliveries in the final phase of play in the day.

Rohit, who batted brilliantly in difficult conditions in Chennai in the second Test, continued in the same fashion and completed his half century of 63 deliveries.

Kohli kept chipping away at the other end while England’s fast bowlers faced a a fair bit of trouble with surface at the popping crease. Kohli however departed in the final over of the day as he chopped one on to his stumps off Leach for 27 as India neared the 100-run mark.

Rohit and Kohli put on a 64-run partnership before Ajinkya Rahane joined the opener to see out the final few deliveries. India, at stumps, were 13 runs behind England with Rohit Sharma batting on 57.

England made four changes and India made only two to their line-ups from the second Chennai Test. India brought in Jasprit Bumrah and Washington Sundar, instead of Mohammed Siraj and Kuldeep Yadav.

England has made four changes, which sees James Anderson and Stuart Broad playing together for the first time in this series. England captain Joe Root said that James Anderson, Jofra Archer, Jonny Bairstow and Zak Crawley come back into the team in place of Rory Burns, Dan Lawrence, Moeen Ali and Olly Stone.

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