4th Test - England vs India - Ahmedabad - Day 1
India’s spin twins Axar Patel and Ravichandran Ashwin took seven wickets between them to strangle England on the first day of the fourth and final Test yesterday, despite a defiant half century from all-rounder Ben Stokes.
England skipper Joe Root won the toss for the third time in the series, but their batsmen succumbed to spin yet again and managed only 205 at the world's biggest cricket venue in Ahmedabad, where India recently won the spin-dominated third Test inside two days.
England, who were looking to bounce back after two successive losses, were all out in 75.5 overs as their innings ended in the final session.
India, leading the series 2-1, reached 24 for one after fast bowler James Anderson trapped Shubman Gill lbw for a duck in the third ball of the innings.
Rohit Sharma on 8 and Cheteshwar Pujara on 15 were batting at the close.
Wickets tumbled at regular intervals even as Stokes battled to hold England’s innings together with an obdurate innings of
His 121-ball knock, spiced with four boundaries and two sixes, gave England hopes of a big total as he engaged in some mid-pitch banter.
Stokes apparently reacted to a bouncer from fast bowler Mohammed Siraj, who later said the batsman "abused" him.
Indian captain Virat Kohli stepped in for his quick bowler and had an animated conversation with Stokes until the umpires intervened.
Siraj who claimed two wickets including Root's prized scalp said after the end of the day's play that it was "not a big issue, as all these things keep happening on a field of play".
"It's two professionals expressing their emotions about the sport that they love," Stokes, who played despite a stomach bug, told reporters.
Stokes reached his 24th Test fifty with a reverse sweep to the fence off Patel, but the left-hander said he was frustrated after falling to a straight delivery from spinner Washington Sundar.
"Very frustrated that I spent two-and-a-half-hours trying to avoid getting out to a straight ball, then I ended up getting out to one" he said.
"We will look back on that and be disappointed by some of the batting, we're more than capable of scoring more than 300 on a wicket like that," added Stokes.
Spin, introduced in the sixth over, was again England’s Achilles Heel, as Patel removed openers Dom Sibley for two and Zak Crawley for nine, continuing his fine debut series by claiming four more wickets - taking his tally to 22 at 10.81.
Crawley has now been dismissed by the left-arm spin of Patel and Lasith Embuldeniya seven times out of seven on England's tours of India and Sri Lanka.
Root fell cheaply for five to an in-swinging Siraj delivery as his side slumped to 30-3, before Stokes shared key partnerships with Jonny Bairstow, who made 28, and Ollie Pope who made 29.
Bairstow overcame a jittery start, carving six fours before the lunch break, before being trapped lbw by a rising Siraj delivery with England losing the review.
Pope was unlucky to get an inside edge off his back pad off Ashwin that went to short leg, with Gill taking a simple catch.
Ben Foakes was lured into a furtive prod to slip by Ashwin and although Lawrence struck several delightful boundaries in reaching 46, he became Patel's third victim after unsuccessfully giving the bowler the charge.
With Bess trapped lbw in the same over, it required Leach and Anderson to take England past the 200 run mark.