Axar Patel slices through England as India shine in day-night Test

By Sports Desk February 24, 2021

India ended the opening day of the third Test against England firmly on top despite losing Virat Kohli in the final over, closing on 99-3 having bowled out their opponents for 112.

The day-night contest at the newly named Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad was viewed in the build-up as a chance for the seam bowlers to take centre stage, with the four-match series between the teams delicately poised at 1-1.

However, it was India's spinners who once again dominated proceedings, Axar Patel claiming career-best figures of 6-38 to continue his outstanding start in Test cricket. Ravichandran Ashwin - one of the star performers for India as they won the second Test in Chennai - offered superb support, taking 3-26. 

Johnny Bairstow was the first of several players to be undone by deliveries that failed to turn at all, though, as his return to the team saw him trapped lbw for a duck, leaving the tourists at 27-2 after opting to bat first. 

Zak Crawley (53) countered impressively, playing some glorious shots off the front foot in particular as he and Joe Root added 47, only for England to then suffer a stunning collapse, their final eight wickets going down for just 38 runs.

Ashwin had Root lbw for 17 – despite the England captain attempting to get a reprieve through a review – before Crawley's fluent half-century came to an end when he fell in similar fashion to Axar. 

Ollie Pope (1) and Ben Stokes (6) both perished with the score stuck on 81, England's batsmen left bamboozled once more on a turning surface to leave a long tail exposed. 

Axar claimed three of the final four wickets to go down, wrapping up the innings when Ben Foakes was bowled for 12. England had lasted just 48.2 overs, posting their lowest first-innings score in India. 

Following a superb century in the previous match, the in-form Rohit Sharma led India's reply with an unbeaten 57 that included nine fours.

Fellow opener Shubman Gill found it tougher going as he made only 11, while Cheteshwar Pujara departed for a four-ball duck to Jack Leach. The left-arm spinner also struck late to give his team renewed hope, Kohli chopping on for 27, but the hosts undoubtedly were the happier team at stumps.

Super start continues for Axar 

Axar is the first Indian spinner to take a five-wicket haul in a day-night Test, while only the sixth slow bowler to do so in such fixtures with the pink ball. 

Having missed the series opener through injury - a game England won convincingly - he has now taken 13 wickets in the series at an average of 10.61, stunning numbers for a player who has had to wait patiently for his chance in the format. 

Zak back, but England topple quickly 

With Crawley and Root together, England appeared to have overcome two early setbacks to reach 74-2 just prior to the first break in proceedings on Wednesday. The former justified the decision to pick him over Rory Burns, hitting 10 fours to at times silence the 40,000-strong crowd present. 

Yet the right-hander was not alone in falling into the trap of playing for spin that was simply not there, hit on the front pad by a delivery from Axar that instead of turning went straight on.

 

Related items

  • Neymar says PSG renewal no longer an issue amid Barca links Neymar says PSG renewal no longer an issue amid Barca links

    Neymar said his contract renewal with Paris Saint-Germain is "no longer an issue" as the star pledged his future to the Ligue 1 giants following their Champions League progress.

    PSG forward Neymar – who arrived from Barcelona for a world-record €222million in 2017 – is contracted until 2022 but both parties have been in negotiations regarding a fresh deal in the French capital.

    Neymar has continually been linked with a return to LaLiga powerhouse Barca, but the Brazil international confirmed his intentions to re-sign with PSG.

    "This [renewal with PSG] is no longer an issue," Neymar told ESPN Brazil after PSG eliminated holders Bayern Munich in the Champions League quarter-finals.

    "Obviously I feel very comfortable and at home here at PSG. I feel happier than I was before."

    PSG lost 1-0 in the return leg on Tuesday, but they still advanced on away goals after the blockbuster tie ended 3-3.

    Neymar was named man of the match after he had more shots (six), more shots on target (three) and made more key passes (three) than any other PSG player, hitting the crossbar and then the post during the first half.

    After PSG moved through to their second successive Champions League semi-final, Neymar celebrated with team-mate Leandro Paredes in front of Bayern star Joshua Kimmich.

    "It's funny because I didn't even celebrate to mess with him, it was more with Leo and I ended up celebrating with him. It was fate that put me close to [Kimmich]," Neymar said.

    "He said that their team was better, that they would win. He was sure that they would go to the semi-finals."

    PSG's elimination of Bayern is the first instance in Champions League history of the previous season's losing finalists eliminating the holders in the knockout stages.

    French giants PSG have reached the semi-finals for the second season in a row, after managing to reach the final four only once in their previous 11 campaigns in the competition before that – their first in 1994-95.

    PSG, though, failed to score at home in the Champions League for the first time in 24 games, since a 0-0 draw with Madrid in October 2015.

  • Muller and Neuer lament Bayern's Champions League exit: It's very disappointing Muller and Neuer lament Bayern's Champions League exit: It's very disappointing

    Bayern Munich star Thomas Muller forthrightly blamed his side's first-leg result for their "very disappointing" Champions League exit at the hands of Paris Saint-Germain.

    Champions League holders Bayern won 1-0 in the quarter-final second leg in Paris on Tuesday, but were knocked out on away goals after losing 3-2 in Munich.

    Muller said the disappointment was big as he bemoaned Bayern's inability to take their chances when they had them against last season's runner-up PSG.

    "We didn't do ourselves any favours with the first leg result," Muller told Sky Germany. "The disappointment is big."

    Bayern are the third consecutive reigning Champions League winners to fail to reach at least the semi-final stage the following season in the competition, something that has not happened since four successive teams failed between 2004-05 and 2007-8 (Porto, Liverpool, Barcelona and Milan).

    Muller added: "We scored one goal too few to advance. The course of the game was different from Munich. We didn't have so much pressure in the early stages.

    "We then had the situation we wanted and scored the goal just before half-time. We had a few chances just before half-time that we didn't take for different reasons.

    "In the second half, the effort was always there, but the game was very disjointed. In the end, Paris has a great offence, but it's very disappointing that we got eliminated even though we won in Paris."

    Bayern goalkeeper Manuel Neuer reiterated that sentiment, ruing their first-leg defeat at home to the Ligue 1 champions.

    Hansi Flick's Bayern mustered 45 shots over their two clashes with PSG – the joint-most any team managed against an opponent in two games in the Champions League this season (level with Sevilla against Krasnodar).

    "It was not just because of today," Neuer said. "The 1-0 was deserved, but the result last week was not good enough.

    "It's annoying, especially if you look at the first game, where we missed many chances and conceded one or two goals too many.

    "All the players not here today were missed. It's difficult when you play against such a great team then. Still, we had a top team on the pitch that gave it everything."

  • PSG not Champions League favourites, insists Pochettino PSG not Champions League favourites, insists Pochettino

    Paris Saint-Germain head coach Mauricio Pochettino does not believe his team are favourites to win the Champions League after eliminating holders Bayern Munich.

    PSG advanced to the semi-finals for the second successive season on away goals after the blockbuster tie ended 3-3 following Tuesday's 1-0 loss at home to Bayern.

    Ligue 1 champions PSG exacted some revenge after moving through to the final four, having lost last season's decider to Bayern.

    PSG will face either Manchester City or Borussia Dortmund in the semis, while Chelsea are set to meet the winner of the Liverpool-Real Madrid clash.

    Pochettino, though, dismissed the idea that PSG are the main contender to win the Champions League this season.

    "I don't think so," Pochettino told reporters when asked if PSG are favourites. "We have beat Barcelona in last 16 in two games, we have beat Bayern now in two games too.

    "I think we deserved to win both ties, but I don't think PSG are the main contender to win Champions League. There are still rivals in. We have qualified and Chelsea did today as well.

    "We will see in the ties Man City versus Dortmund and Liverpool versus Real Madrid. Any team which is in semi-finals has the same options to win."

    PSG's elimination of Bayern is the first instance in Champions League history of the previous season's losing finalists eliminating the holders in the knockout stages.

    French giants PSG have reached the semi-finals for the second season in a row, after managing to reach the final four only once in their previous 11 campaigns in the competition before that – their first in 1994-95.

    PSG, though, failed to score at home in the Champions League for the first time in 24 games, since a 0-0 draw with Madrid in October 2015.

    Asked to pick between City and Dortmund, former Tottenham boss Pochettino – who led Spurs to the 2018-19 Champions League final – added: "We have faced Barcelona in last 16, playing two games, and we have disqualified Barca. We have also eliminated Bayern Munich in quarter-finals.

    "We don't choose one or other rival. The one we play, we will try to beat them. If you are wondering we can or not beat them, we will see."

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.