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IND vs ENG, 4th Test Day 3: India enter WTC finals after winning series 3-1

Brief Scores: Brief scores: England 205 (Ben Stokes 55; Axar Patel 4-68) & 135 (R Ashwin 5-47, Axar Patel 5-48) lost to India 365 (Rishabh Pant 101, Washington Sundar 96*; Ben Stokes 4-89) by an innings and 25 runs.

Team India sealed the series 3-1 against England and booked their spot in the World Test Championship finals as they got the better of the rival team by an innings and 25 runs on DSaturday. After amassing 365 runs in their first innings, courtesy a hundred from Rishabh Pant and an unbeaten 96 from Washington Sundar, the Indian knocked over the England side with the spin duo of Axar Patel and Ravichandran Ashwin picking up 5 wickets apiece. 

England lost six wickets in the second session to slip to 91 for 6, and despite a determined fightback from Dan Lawrence, it was all but formality after the rest of the batters had failed to show application on a hard batting wicket. 

Here are the talking points from Day 3 of the Test match. 

Washington Sundar’s growth as a Test player 

Washington Sundar has lived a fairy tale in the last few months. After being called as a net bowler for the tour of Australia, Sundar made his debut after a string of injuries meant that the side were without XI fit members in the squad. Since then, he has impressed with both bat and ball (in his limited chances). Starting off as an opener, the Tamil Nadu player slowly moved down the order as players such as Abhinav Mukund, Murali Vijay and the Baba brothers stamped their presence at the top of the order. 

However, the fact that he has immense skills was always well known, and he proved just the same in the last few Tests. Ever since his drea, debut at the Gabba, Sundar has risen to the occasion every time his team has needed crucial runs down the order. He had batted with a lot of composure in Brisbane, and displayed maturity in Chennai as he finished with an unbeaten 95. In Ahmedabad, he walked out to bat with the team score reading 140 for 6, and gritted it out for a fine knock of an unbeaten 96. 

He was looking well set for his maiden Test ton, but three wickets in the space of five balls meant that he was left stranded. His emergence has also strengthened the side’s lower middle order. In eight innings from Wellington to Sydney last year, the last four wickets added only 9.12 runs per partnership. From Gabba to Motera, the last four wickets have added 28.28 runs per wickets. 

Sundar has been at the forefront as he averages a stunning 66.25 with the bat in the last five Tests – the highest among any Indian batsmen. He has displayed maturity at the highest level, and Sundar – the accidental Test cricketer – is destined for greater feats. 

Rishabh Pant and his wicket keeping skills 

Rishabh Pant has not only matured as a batsman in the last few months of Test cricket, but he has greatly improved his skills with the gloves as well. Ahead of the Test series against England, there were question marks over Pant’s ability to keep against the slower bowlers, but he has managed to answer all his critics wrong. He was swift behind the stumps, moved well and was alert throughout the series, and was impressive on Day 3 as well, as he effected three dismissals, including two catches and a stumping. 

First up, he caught Dom Sibley after a sweep shot by the England player hit Shubman Gill in the knee and ricocheted towards the keeper. Pant was alert and quickly moved to his right as he held on to a simple catch. Up next, he sent back Ollie Pope with a brilliant stumping as the batsman was beaten by Axar Patel’s flight and turn. Pope had barely moved out of his crease, but Pant was quick as he whipped off the bails in no time. He held on to another terrific catch in the day as Dom Bess swept a relatively straighter ball only to see him under edge it to Pant behind. 

Pant’s live-wire presence on the field, his maturity, his determination to work hard at his game and his match awareness has greatly improved in the last few months, and he has undoubtedly emerged as the biggest positive for Team India. 

Dan Lawrence puts up a fight yet again 

Daniel Lawrence, who found a place in the XI for the fourth Test ahead of Jofra Archer, has been the biggest positive for England on a tour where the negatives outnumbered the positives. The batsman was impressive in the recent series against Sri Lanka, and made the most of his chances in this game as he impressed in both innings. On Day 3, when the other batters lacked application and failed to play according to the merit of the ball, Lawrence held his end up and scored a fine 50 against some fine spin bowling. 

He gritted it out and seemed ready for the challenge on a wicket that was not the hardest to bat on. He was aware of his off-stump and keenly followed the turn that Axar Patel’s arm balls or Ravichandran Ashwin’s finger spinners generated. Just four Tests old, Lawrence has shown great skills and temperament while batting in tough situations. Just like Cameron Green in the recent Border-Gavaskar Trophy, Lawrence applied himself well whenever he was pushed into a corner, and it would be no surprise if the four Test match old Lawrence becomes a regular in the England XI.

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