Before the start of the series it was termed as the battle of the equals and the first test was a perfect example of it as both teams played out a draw. Since then Team India has turned the tables completely by beating them hands down in the 2nd test and now with a comprehensive 8 wicket win inside 4 days in the third test at Mohali.
It was not the usual Mohali wicket that offers pace and bounce and England, as any team would have done, chose to bat first after winning the toss. Batting first is the right thing to do in India but England spilled their chances with some shoddy batting display. The pitch was a bit up and down but still good to bat on the first day. Barring opener Haseeb Hameed, who got an absolute shocker of a delivery that rose sharply from the good length to take his gloves, no other batsman put a price on their wicket. They kept playing poor shots to give India regular breakthroughs despite dropping a few simple catches. Joe Root and Alastair Cook, both got out trying to play cross batted shot to ball that were not short enough from Jayant Yadav and R. Ashwin respectively. England were 51 for 3 pretty soon on the first morning. Jonny Bairstow anchored the England innings with a gritty 89 as Stokes, Butler and Woakes hung around a bit to help England score 283 in their first innings. All Indian bowlers were amongst wickets as Shami picked up 3 while Umesh, Jayant and Jadeja shared 2 wickets each and Ashwin got the solitary wicket of Cook off the first ball of his first spell, after dropping him earlier.
In reply, Vijay fell early but useful knocks by Parthiv Patel (42), Pujara (51) and Virat (62) kept India afloat. Immediately after lunch on day 2, a spell of 3 wickets for 8 runs pegged India back as Pujara, Rahane and Karun Nair departed in quick succession to leave team score at 156 for 5. Later Kohli walked back with the score reading 204 for 6 and India in trouble of conceding a first innings lead. With the lower order left to bat, England would have fancied their chances of dismissing India quickly to gain a vital lead and an upper hand on the match. It was all upto Ashwin and Jadeja now and as they have done in the recent past, they rescued the team again. Ashwin and Jadeja put together a brilliant partnership of 97 runs before Ashwin got out for a well made 72 runs. Jadeja did not stop there and Jayant Yadav gave him more than able support as these two put on another 80 run partnership with Jadeja scoring 90 to be dismissed 10 runs short of what would have been his maiden test century. Jayant Yadav partnered Umesh Yadav for another useful partnership of 33 runs and in the process also brought up his maiden test half century. India finally got all out for 417 runs earning a potentially match winning lead of 134 runs. Ben stokes bowled valiantly to notch up a 5 wicket haul against his name.
The pressure of a sizeable lead pushed England batsmen into panic mode as they crumbled on a crumbling pitch. Had it not been for Joe Root’s 78 runs and a brave unbeaten knock of 59 from Haseeb Hameed, who came out to bat at No. 8 due to injury on his hand, England would not have managed to surpass the first innings Indian lead. England were all out for 236 runs, leaving a target of 103 for India to get. The bowling scorecard for India looked pretty similar to their first innings with all bowlers except Umesh being amongst wickets with Ashwin getting 3 and Shami, Jayant and Jadeja getting 2 each.
Vijay failed again and fell to Woakes for a duck but this did not deter the Indian juggernaut from rolling over the England score. Parthiv scored an unbeaten whirlwind 67 runs off just 54 balls as India completed the target in just the 21st over of their innings with 2 wickets down. Pujara made 25 while Kohli was unbeaten on 6.
With this win India went 2-0 up in the 5 match series with 2 more matches to go. India were brilliant with the bat and ball but their fielding left much to desire. The batting form of Ajinkya Rahane must be a point of concern for Team India and needs to be addressed to. Parthiv Patel’s performance on his comeback was nothing less than splendid and that might give some selection headache to the team management when Saha gets fit. The lower order putting their hands up when needed is a good sign for India. England on the other hand should be worried with the way their players have reacted in crucial situations. The batsmen have looked good generally with Hameed, Cook, Root, Bairstow and Stokes being amongst runs in this series but they have failed to carry on to make big scores. The bowling does not look sharp enough to trouble even the lower order of India and it needs to be looked into urgently.
England 283 & 236
India 417 & 104/2 (20.2 ov)
India won by 8 wickets
Ravindra Jadeja was adjudged the man of the match for his all round contribution.