Spinners put India on top in final Test against England

Spinners put India on top in final Test against England
Indian bowler Mohammed Siraj in action against England during their 4th Test in Ahmedabad on Thursday.

AHMEDABAD: Indian spinners Axar Patel and Ravichandran Ashwin combined to dismiss England for 205 despite a gritty half-century from Ben Stokes on day one of the fourth Test on Thursday. At stumps, India were 24 for one, losing opener Shubman Gill (0) to James Anderson in the first over of the innings. But Rohit Sharma (8 not out) and Cheteshwar Pujara (15 not out) survived in the next 11 overs to take India to safety. Earlier, Patel took four wickets while Ashwin three to end England’s innings in the final session after they elected to bat first in Ahmedabad.

The match is being played at the Narendra Modi Stadium, the world’s biggest cricket venue, where India won the spin-dominated third Test inside two days. Stokes, who recovered from an illness, top-scored with 55 and returning batsman Dan Lawrence put up some resistance with his 46. Ashwin tested Ollie Pope with his off-spin after lunch and the batsman was unlucky to get an inside edge off his back pad that went to short leg and Shubman Gill took a simple catch. Patel got Lawrence stumped four short of his fifty and then combined with his senior spin partner to wipe off the England tail. England lost early wickets, including skipper Joe Root for five, to slump to 30-3 before Stokes put on key partnerships with Jonny Bairstow, who made 28, and Pope. Stokes raised his 24th Test fifty and second in the series with a boundary off a reverse sweep, but the left-hander soon fell to one of Sundar’s deliveries from around the wicket.

Bairstow was trapped lbw by a rising Mohammed Siraj delivery and failed in a review that showed the ball would have clipped the top of middle stump. Earlier, spin was introduced in the sixth over and Patel soon removed openers Dom Sibley for two and Zak Crawley for nine. Bairstow, who failed to score in either innings of the third Test, tried to steady the innings along with his captain. But Siraj broke through after the first drinks interval to trap Root on the back foot with an in-swinging delivery. Siraj and Stokes were involved in a verbal duel, joined by India captain Virat Kohli, until the umpires intervened. Stokes then hit back with three boundaries off the quick bowler. England fast bowler Jofra Archer has been left out of the game due to a “right elbow issue” that made him miss the second Test, said a statement.

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