Ashwin’s 5-wicket haul helps India seal the series 4-1 against England on Day 3 in Dharamsala

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India stamped authority on the ICC WTC standings with a 4-1 series win

India continued on Day 3 with a lead of 255 runs as Jasprit Bumrah and Kuldeep Yadav surrendered quite early followed by a commendable bowling performance on the third day of the Dharamsala Test at the HPCA Stadium in Dharamsala.

The overnight lead of 255 runs was only extended by 4 runs before James Anderson took a historic 700th Test wicket and Kuldeep was the victim as he was caught behind the stumps by Ben Foakes. 

Only three balls later, Foakes was again in action as he stumped Bumrah off Shoaib Bashir’s bowling handing a 5-wicket haul to the youngster, his second consecutive fifer in the series. 

England had their task cut out as they had to nullify the trail of 259 runs followed by setting a challenging target for the in-form Indian batters who seemed to know every nerve of the pitch in the first innings total of 477 runs.

Indian skipper Rohit Sharma didn’t turn up to field on Day 3 and vice-captain Bumrah decided to step up and lead the side. In the second over of the innings, Ravichandran Ashwin cleaned up the stumps of Ben Duckett removing him for a paltry score of 2 runs.

While Ollie Pope scored three boundaries to keep the score ticking, Zak Crawley failed to disturb the scorers as the Englishman decided to take an early vacation after carrying his side on his back for the better part of the series. The opening batter was trapped by Ashwin with Sarfaraz Khan completing the catch at backward short leg.

After planting seeds of doubt in Pope’s mind using a well-crafted strategy, Ashwin got the English vice-captain to edge the ball in the air and Yashasvi Jaiswal completed the catch to end Pope’s series who shone in the first match but scored 118 runs in the following eight innings at a miserly average of less than 15.

Jonny Bairstow batted like he did in the first innings with the all-out approach as the batter smacked three maximums and three fours, contributing 39 runs off 31 balls as he got trapped LBW by Kuldeep for the umpteenth time in the series.

Ashwin was the hero with the ball in hand in the second innings

Ben Stokes also ended the series in a disappointing manner as Ashwin went through the gates and undid the bails removing the English skipper for a score of 2 runs. The reliable batter scored only 199 runs in 10 innings with only 9 of those runs coming in the last four innings. Ashwin then also completed his five-wicket haul as he clean bowled Foakes, becoming only the fourth bowler to take a 5-wicket haul in his 100th Test.

Tom Hartley counter-attacked Ashwin with ease but was trapped LBW by Bumrah after contributing 20 runs off 24 balls. Mark Wood was also dismissed LBW on a silver duck as a toe-crushing yorker by the Indian vice-captain ejected the No.9 from the pitch.

In the 37th over, Joe Root brought up his half-century with a boundary off 88 balls and creamed the ball through the off-side for another four later in Bumrah’s over. Bashir also joined the party as the duo constructed a 48-run partnership before Ravindra Jadeja got his first wicket of the innings by cleaning up Bashir’s stumps.

After a reverse-sweep boundary, Root tried to clear Bumrah at long-on to enter the nervous nineties with a maximum but holed out in the deep ending the visitors’ challenge in a fighting manner as India won the fifth test by an innings and 64 runs to seal the 4-1 series win.

Ravichandran Ashwin was glad about his 5-fer and especially the fact that he got it in his 100th Test. The experienced spinner also shed light on his best performance of the series.

The off-spinner said,

“Feeling very happy. I can’t really put a wrap around how I feel right now. Lots of well wishes before the 100th Test. Throughout the series, I have gone to different actions, speeds and releases. India is different, each ground has a challenge. I was really happy with the way the ball came out, most pleased with this performance and the second innings in Ranchi.”

The 100-Test veteran also discussed his experiments with the ball in hand and how he tries to learn on the job instead of sticking with a pre-decided match routine.

He said,

“I have kept my ears and eyes open to listen to good feedback. Unless I try I will never be able to learn. If I am confident that I can try something I don’t hold back on experimentation. I feel times have rolled along. With the number of footage and video analysis going around, people can easily line you up and study you. Not saying sticking to one method won’t work. Thankfully experimenting and learning have helped me. Can’t say this is the only way.”