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IND vs ENG, 2nd Test Day 4: India level series as Axar takes 5 wickets

Brief Scores: India 329 (Rohit Sharma 161, Ajinkya Rahane 67, Rishabh Pant 58; Moeen Ali 4-128, Olly Stone 3-47) & 286 (R Ashwin 106, Virat Kohli 62; Moeen Ali 4-98, Jack Leach 4-100) beat England 134 (Ben Foakes 42*; R Ashwin 5-43, Ishant Sharma 2-22) & 164 (Moeen Ali 43; Axar Patel 5-60, R Ashwin 3-53) by 317 runs.

Indian displayed a clinical showing in the second Test, with Rohit Sharma’s fine century, Ravichandran Ashwin’s eight-wicket haul and a ton along with Axar Patel’s five-wicket haul in his maiden Test to seal the game and level the series 1-1. Chasing an improbable 482 for a win, the Indians shot out England for just 164 runs as the hosts registered their biggest win against England in a Test match. On a pitch that had been called a “beach” by the English experts, the Indians showed how to go about things as they raised the game with both bat and ball to register a fine win. 

We look at the major talking points from Day 4 of the game: 

Virat Kohli was at his aggressive best 

Despite needing just seven wickets to win the game when the day began, Indian skipper Virat Kohli did not allow the intensity to slip as he was proactive throughout, be it with his bowling changes or his field placements. He kept rotating his bowlers and kept them fresh throughout the day, be it his ploy to bowl with Mohammad Siraj and Axar Patel in tandem or have Ravichandran Ashwin back into the attack when Ben Stokes looked in ominous form. 

He also kept as many as five fielders within touching distance of Stokes, and the constant chatter from the slip cordon along with wicket-keeper Rishabh Pant further increased pressure on the English all-rounder. Right after Stokes was dismissed, Kohli brought on fast bowler Ishant Sharma when two right handers were at the crease. The lanky pacer got the ball to tail back into Ollie Pope and Joe Root with three fielders on the leg side to guard the uppish drive. Later, he got in Axar, who immediately got the wicket of Pope, which was a testament to Kohli’s proactiveness. With this win, the skipper also equalled the most number of Test wins in India, tied with MS Dhoni at the top. 

Axar Patel sizzles on his debut 

Spinner Axar Patel picked up five wickets in the second innings of the Chennai Test to become only the sixth Indian to claim a five-wicket haul in his debut Test match, after VV Kumar, Dilip Doshi, Narendra Hirwani, Amit Mishra and Ravichandran Ashwin. The 27-year old, who made his LOI debut in 2014, had to wait for almost seven years to play in the longest format of the game. He would have got his chance in the first Test if not for a late injury that prompted the team to go in with Washington Sundar instead. 

Axar immediately lived up to expectations as he bowled with great control, accuracy and variations to end with a five-fer. He troubled Joe Root with length balls that spun away, obtained fast turn and picked up his maiden wicket when Root tried to sweep him to short fine leg. He then went about beating Ben Stokes and Dan Lawrence constantly, and started the day with a big turner as the revs beat Dom Sibley’s edge. 

Axar sent down straighter balls that had extra bounce, square turners that gripped the surface and arm-balls without much fuss to display his variations. He eventually ended with figures of 5 for 60 in the second innings, and did not bowl a single short pitched ball or a full toss throughout the game. 

Moeen Ali gives a glimpse of his big-hitting skills ahead of the IPL auctions 

English all-rounder staged a perfect return to Test cricket – his first in 18 months – with an eight-wicket haul in the second Test at Chennai, including the prized wicket of Virat Kohli in the first innings. The spinner sent down a classic off-break to the Indian skipper that tossed up wide of the off stump and drew Kohli to a drive. He replicated the exact same ball to dismiss Ajinkya Rahane and got the wicket of Axar Patel with a loopy off-break before getting the wicket of Ishant. 

In the second innings, he mixed up the slower deliveries, got the ball to spin back, sent down arm-balls and got the wicket of Kohli in the second innings as well with a length ball that drifted across outside off and then deceived Kuldeep Yadav with a straighter one after sending down a massive turner. On Day 4, he displayed why he will be a good pick for IPL teams in the upcoming season with a quick cameo of 43 in just 18 balls, with the help of five huge sixes and three fours. On a track that was tough for batting, he stepped out with ease against the spinner. Waited on his back foot before cutting it away, used his feet against Axar Patel, danced and swung at the flighted deliveries, and hit his third successive six in a row when he sent one soaring over the sightscreen. 

He had enough power even when he did not get to the pitch of the ball, sent Ashwin – the best bowler in the series thus far – for a one-kneed swipe over cow corner and charged Kuldeep through extra cover for a four. The player, who is returning home after the Test match due to bio-bubble fatigue displayed his all-round skills in one of the toughest pitches, and it should be a surprise if he is not picked up by a team come the auctions on February 18. 

Also Read: Social media trends on cricket this week – From Mohammad Rizwan’s 106* to R Ashwin’s 29th Test five-for


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