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Saturday, April 10, 2021

Axar & Ashwin: Spinners turn the tide for India

The pair of Axar Patel and Ravichandran Ashwin bagged five wickets each as India won the 4th Test vs England by an innings and 25 runs on Day 3.

By: Sports Desk |
Updated: March 6, 2021 8:07:50 pm
axar patel, r ashwin, india vs england, ind vs eng testIndia routed England by an innings and 25 runs inside three days in the fourth and final Test. (BCCI)

Axar Patel and Ravichandran Ashwin picked a total of 59 wickets between themselves as England surrendered 3-1 in the four-match Test series against India.

The duo hunted in pairs and bagged five wickets each as India won the game comfortably on Saturday. This was the third successive Test match where England lost all 10 wickets in an innings to spin.

Left-arm spinner Axar, who grabbed 11 wickets in the last Test at the same venue in India’s 10-wicket win within two days, finished the game with yet another impressive haul in his hometown.

Axar has had a remarkable debut series, bagging 27 wickets in 3 matches and at an astounding average of 10.59. Add four five-wicket hauls to that list and it makes the feat even more special. Patel’s 27 victims in his debut Test series is also the most by any bowler in the history of cricket (minimum 3 matches).

axar patel, r ashwin, india vs england, ind vs eng test Axar Patel’s figures in the Test series vs England. (Screengrab)

Brought into the side when the team was 0-1 down in the series, the left-armer did quite a few things right. Bowling to right-handers from around the wicket, he was able to hit the shiny side of the ball and got a few to go straight. Those were the ones that proved to be most lethal because the batsmen expected them to turn away but they swerved back in — often crashing into the stumps or catching the batsman’s pad plumb in front.

Another aspect of Axar’s success in the series was his accuracy — hitting the same spot on the pitch consistently. With the ball spinning just enough he made the most use of that.

When asked about his feat in the series, Axar summed it up saying, “I think the confidence helped me. I got wickets in the first game and kept on carrying the confidence.”

Ashwin’s guile

Ashwin has been a treat to watch in the entire series, deceiving the Englishmen with his guile and finger spin. The visitors seemed incapable of finding any answers to combat his skill as he got the ball to turn and bounce.

Remember the magical delivery to get rid of Ollie Pope in the pink-ball Test. It was the drift from Ashwin that proved too much for Pope as he tried to get in line to an off-spinner and then let it curve past the closed bat-face, only to hear the sound of timber.

axar patel, r ashwin, india vs england, ind vs eng test Ollie Pope was deceived by R Ashwin. (BCCI TV)

The guile was too much for the Englishmen as one by one they all fell into the traps laid by the Indian spinners.

Ashwin, who finished the series as the highest wicket-taker (with 32 wickets at 14.71) also went on to win his eighth Man of the Series award. Only Muttiah Muralitharan (11) and Jacques Kallis (9) have won more player of the series awards than Ashwin (8) in Test cricket.

“Being desperate is bad, being content is bad, but it’s important for me to be happy, and I’ve stayed on my feet, and worked out batsmen and I’m happy it has worked out well for me,” the off-spinner said at the end of the game.

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