England suffer Underhill Six Nations blow

By Sports Desk January 26, 2021

Sam Underhill is the latest player to withdraw from England's Six Nations squad due to a hip injury.

Jack Willis has been called up as a replacement for back-row Underhill, who is another big loss for the defending champions.

Underhill played a big part in England's Six Nations and Autumn Nations Cup triumphs last year but sustained an injury blow before he was due to link up with the squad at St. George's Park on Wednesday.

Willis made his Test debut against Georgia last November and will be hoping to make his Six Nations bow in the coming weeks.

Underhill's withdrawal comes a day after Joe Launchbury and Joe Marler were ruled out due to a fibula stress fracture and personal reasons respectively.

England head coach Eddie Jones' preparations had already been disrupted last week when he was forced to go into self-isolation after his assistant Matt Proudfoot tested positive for coronavirus.

The Red Rose start the defence of their title against Scotland at Twickenham a week on Saturday.

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    Virat Kohli saluted "modern-day legend" Ravichandran Ashwin for passing 400 career wickets in India's outlandish victory over England in the third Test.

    India clinched a 10-wicket win on Thursday when they knocked off the required 49 runs with little trouble, having skittled England for the second time in the match.

    The tourists made just 112 and 81 as they flopped in the pink-ball day-night match, and that meant India's own first-innings batting collapse did not prove costly.

    Ashwin brought up his wickets landmark in just his 77th Test, the off-spinner finishing with match figures of 7-74, while left-armer Axar Patel took 11-70 in the rout to earn man-of-the-match honours.

    "We all need to stand up and take notice of what Ashwin has contributed to Indian cricket. We should all be very proud of it," captain Kohli said.

    "I told him: 'From now on, I'm going to call you Ledge.'

    "Four hundred is an outstanding achievement and still so many games, so many years to go for India, and in Test match cricket he's surely a modern-day legend.

    "We're lucky to have him in our team. As a captain I'm so pleased that he plays for us."

    Kohli said Axar "bowled amazingly well" in what was just his second Test.

    "It's impossible to sweep him and impossible to defend him all day, and if the wicket gives him anything he's just a very lethal bowler," Kohli said. "For Axar to come in and bowl like this is outstanding."

    But Kohli had no such praise for India as a batting side, or England for that matter.

    "The result went our way, but I don't think the quality of batting was at all up to standard from both teams to be very honest," Kohli said. "I know they got bundled out early but even with our innings we were 100-3 hoping to make many more than we ended up with."

    India slumped to 145 all out, yet England's second-innings effort meant the hosts were not punished.

    Kohli spoke in the post-match presentation of a "lack of application on both sides" and said there was nothing amiss with the pitch early on.

    "It was bizarre that out of the 30 wickets, 21 were from straight balls, and I feel that's just a lapse of concentration or indecision, or too many things going on in your head as a batter where you're playing for the turn but getting beaten on the inside," the India captain added.

    "I honestly feel batsmen need to trust their defence more than they are presenting at the moment. Test cricket is all about that.

    "You're not going to get a result in two days all the time, and this was a classic example of batsmen not applying themselves enough and that's why it was such a quick game.

    "A lot of guys didn't get into the game and it's just a bizarre game.

    "I don't think I've ever been part of such a Test match where things have happened so quickly. I've never experienced this."

  • Six Nations 2021: North set for 100th Wales cap as George returns for England Six Nations 2021: North set for 100th Wales cap as George returns for England

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    The 28-year-old, who won his first cap in November 2010, returns to the side at outside centre as one of five changes from the 25-24 win over Scotland on February 13.

    Wing Josh Adams is back from suspension while Josh Navidi, Jonathan Davies and scrum-half Kieran Hardy are also included in the XV, the latter making his first Six Nations start.

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    Eddie Jones makes two changes to the England line-up, with hooker Jamie George and flanker Mark Wilson replacing Luke Cowan-Dickie and the injured Courtney Lawes respectively.

    Elliot Daly retains his place and is set to win his 50th cap for England, who have named the uncapped George Martin among their replacements for the Principality Stadium clash. 

    "We know we'll be up against a strong Welsh challenge on Saturday, but we've worked really hard in training this week and have got a very good team to face it," Jones said.

    "We want to show people what we are capable of, keep building our performances and show the best is yet to come from this England team."

     

    Wales XV: Liam Williams; Louis Rees-Zammit, George North, Jonathan Davies, Josh Adams; Dan Biggar, Kieran Hardy; Wyn Jones, Ken Owens, Tomas Francis, Adam Beard, Alun Wyn Jones, Josh Navidi, Justin Tipuric, Taulupe Faletau.

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    England XV: Elliot Daly, Anthony Watson, Henry Slade, Owen Farrell, Jonny May, George Ford, Ben Youngs; Mako Vunipola, Jamie George, Kyle Sinckler, Maro Itoje, Jonny Hill, Mark Wilson, Tom Curry, Billy Vunipola.

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  • Ashwin and Axar flatten England as India win third Test inside two days Ashwin and Axar flatten England as India win third Test inside two days

    Ravichandran Ashwin and Axar Patel once again bamboozled England as India secured a 10-wicket victory in the third Test inside two days.

    Thursday's action in the day-night contest was eventful to say the least, 17 wickets falling before Rohit Sharma and Shubman Gill saw the hosts to their target of 49 runs in the final session under the floodlights. 

    India had also started proceedings at the crease, losing their final seven wickets for 41 as they slipped from 99-3 to 145 all out, Joe Root's maiden five-wicket haul seemingly putting the game back in the balance. 

    However, the metronomic Axar struck early and often as India seized control through their spinners. The left-armer dismissed both Zak Crawley and Johnny Bairstow for ducks in his first over of the innings as he picked up 5-32, giving him stunning match figures of 11-70.  

    Not to be outdone, Ashwin worked his magic once more to end with 4-48. In the process he surpassed 400 Test wickets, a feat only achieved by three other bowlers for India. 

    The efforts of the duo – fellow spinner Washington Sundar also claimed the final wicket of the innings – saw England skittled for 81 in 30.4 overs, their lowest total against India in the format. 

    Root – who had done so much to give his team hope in the opening session with 5-8 – battled hard to make 19 and, briefly, his partnership with Ben Stokes (25) suggested India may have more work to do in the final innings on a difficult surface. 

    Yet Ashwin crucially ended Stokes' counter-attacking knock and, having also bowled Ollie Pope (12), he reached his personal landmark when Jofra Archer was out lbw for a two-ball duck. In truth, England's tail had little hope of increasing their lead to give their own spinners any hope.

    Rohit and Gill rushed the home team over the finishing line, the openers ending unbeaten on 25 and 15 respectively as India moved 2-1 ahead in the series with one Test to play.


    Ashwin latest to join 400 club 

    Ashwin is just the 16th bowler to claim 400 Test wickets, doing so in his 77th appearance. His compatriots Kapil Dev, Anil Kumble – who sits in top spot on India's all-time list on 619 – and Harbhajan Singh have previously made it to the milestone.

    Only Sri Lankan Muttiah Muralitharan made to that number in fewer games than Ashwin, who now has 24 wickets in the series at an average of 15.70.

    Tourists left in a spin

    Thanks to a double century from skipper Root, England scored 578 in their first innings in the series. It was a mammoth total that set them up to secure an impressive victory in Chennai. 

    Since then, though, the visitors have amassed 669 runs in five innings combined, their best score in that period being 164. Facing a trial by spin, they have been condemned to a pair of heavy defeats that ends their hope of competing in the World Test Championship final on home soil.

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