India thrash England by 8 wickets to take 2-0 lead
Mohali : India spinners once again held centrestage as the hosts produced a clinical performance to cruise to a comfortable eight-wicket victory on the fourth day of the third cricket Test and thereby take a 2-0 lead in the five-match series.
The trio of Ravichandran Ashwin (3/81), Ravindra Jadeja (2/62) and Jayant Yadav (2/21) shared bulk of the spoils to dismiss the visitors for 236 in their second innings.
Comeback man Parthiv Patel then made a mockery of the target of 103 runs, smashing his way to an unbeaten 67 off 53 balls studded with 11 fours and a six.
Fittingly he finished the match with a boundary over extra cover in company of Virat Kohli.
Parthiv and Cheteshwar Pujara (25) added 81 runs in only 15.2 overs in what turned out to be an easy chase completed in 20.2 overs.
Parthiv was in a mood to display his ‘T20 skills’ as he took on the pacers and spinners alike with minimum fuss. The 50 came off 39 balls with eight boundaries and a six. His prowess at the top of the order will give Kohli and coach Anil Kumble another option for opening slot.
Earlier, credit should be given to young Haseeb Hameed for his gritty unbeaten 59 off 156 balls coming in at No 8 due to a finger injury that helped England cross 200-run mark. He hit six fours and a six off Ashwin to complete his second Test half-century. It was because of the teenager that India had to chase a 100 plus target.
It was a match where England were outbatted and outbowled by an Indian side that has been plagued by injuries.
But Ashwin as usual put up a lion-hearted performance once again scoring a 72 and bagging four wickets. Equally creditable was the all-round effort of the other two specialist spinners — Jadeja (90 run and 4 wickets) and Jayant (55 runs and 4 wickets).
Having polished off the top-order save Joe Root, the question on fourth day was not how but when will India finish the match.
The only wicket that would have seriously bothered them was that of Joe Root. But post Root, Hameed did put up a fight but it was always for a losing cause.
Root, who was standing between India and victory, was dismissed for 78 by Jadeja (2/39 in 23 overs), who got one to turn away sharply as the edge was taken by an alert Ajinkya Rahane, who reacted quickly to stretch his right hand.
Root played 179 balls hitting six fours in the process. Root got an able ally in young Hameed as the duo added 45 runs in 119 balls for the seventh wicket stand. It was this pair that erased the 134 run deficit.
Once Jadeja removed the gutsy Root minutes before lunch, the writing was there on the wall.
But Hameed delayed the inevitable and showed that he is one for the future with correct technique and a temperament to match with it.
During the post lunch session, it was Mohammed Shami (2/37 in 14 overs) who blew away the lower order with a barrage of short balls.
Hameed had a 43-run stand for the 8th wicket with Chris Woakes (30). With the second new ball, Shami bowled a bouncer which Woakes missed and it broke the protective shield at the back of the helmet.
Woakes was sufficiently softened up and the very next delivery also reared up and he fended awkwardly to give Parthiv an easy catch. Adil Rashid (0) was also welcomed with a short ball which he mis-hooked to Umesh Yadav at deep square leg.
The only consolation for England would be the fact that they managed to make India bat for the second time in the match. But that would count for little as the match turned out to be a lopsided contest.
Hameed again lived up to his nickname ‘Baby Boycott’ for his dogged resistance during initial period. He mostly presented dead bat to the spinners and only played a few sweep shots after he was set.
He could have got out when Ashwin was introduced into the attack in the second hour of the morning session. Hameed, batting on six, tried to cut a delivery that Parthiv couldn’t hold onto.
Parthiv’s keeping in the match has been shoddy at times unlike his batting which looked more compact.
While Jadeja and Jayant did a commendable job in the first hour where they got wicket apiece, it was strange that India’s best spinner was only introduced in the second hour. There is no clarity as to whether it has got to do with any niggling injury issues.
England’s troubles started in the second over of the day as nightwatchman Gareth Batty (0) failed to open his account and was trapped plumb in-front by a Jadeja arm ball. England were reduced to 78 for 5.
Jos Buttler (17) was expected to show some restraint considering the match situation. He came down the track to loft Jadeja for a six and a thickish outside edge off Umesh fetched him a boundary.
But he played one shot too many trying to loft Jayant over deep mid-wicket boundary but failed to get the required elevation to clear Jadeja and England were reduced to 107 for six.
Root was ready to play in occasional ones and twos even though Jadeja tried to hurry him which forced the Yorkshire man to play the left-armer off his backfoot.
He reached his 25th half century off 147 balls as he tucked one towards midwicket fence.