Mohali Test: After Ashwin scalped three, can India beat England today?
India take firm grip at Mohali after Ashwin's three wickets leave England gasping at 78-4 on Day 3 to open up the possibility of game ending today
Indian players celebrate the wicket of England skipper Alastair Cook (left), who was dismissed by R Ashwin in Mohali yesterday. Pic/PTI
India tightened the screws on England in the third Test at Mohali yesterday mainly due to the batting effort from their lower order. At one time on Sunday, with the fall of batting mainstays Cheteshwar Pujara and Virat Kohli, even a small lead seemed doubtful. But then give India an inch on home turf and they will take a mile.
That's what Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja did. They dug themselves in and with some luck and pluck, they revived the innings and went on to put their team in a commanding position. The two Ravis have the tendency to work in tandem with ball in hand and dismantle the best of batting line-ups, at least at home. But the two stuck it out with the bat when India needed them the most.
Ashwin's prowess is well known as a batsman as he has four centuries to his credit, two at home and two away, all against West Indies. But for once Jadeja batted to his potential, till he threw away the chance to get to his maiden Test ton, when on 90 he played a reckless stroke off Adil Rashid. Having got into his 80s he seemed to be in a hurry to get over the mark, playing a few careless strokes.
The duo along with Jayant Yadav ensured India a handsome lead of 134, that was surely going to put England under pressure and so it happened as they lost their top four batsmen for 78 by the close of Day Three. They trail by 56 runs with a defeat staring in their face. Can they display the resilience the Indian lower-order showed? Well that we will know only today. From the look of it, it should be all over before the close of the penultimate day.
The wicket here at Mohali is not at all that vicious, it is much truer than the one at Vizag. There is no reason for the failure of the England top-order for the second time in the match. Of course, they were hampered by the injuring to young opener Haseeb Hameed, and thus Joe Root had to open the innings with skipper Alastair Cook. The way Hameed and Cook had batted in the earlier two matches, the breaking of their set opening alliance surely disturbed the rhythm of the team.
After Cook survived two reviews, he was cleaned up by a beautiful delivery by Ashwin. That was a big breakthrough for India. Then Moeen Ali batting at No. 3 for the first time in Tests, played a nothing shot and was consumed by Ashwin.
After Jonny Baristow was well caught by Parthiv Patel low down off Jayant Yadav, India achieved a rare success while using the DRS. Left-hander Ben Stokes was struck on the back pad just on the off-stump with the ball seeming to drift out. But, India for once gambled with DRS and the tracker showed the ball striking the off stump head-on.
Stokes' dismissal has virtually taken the wind out of England's sail. It's difficult to say how long will they survive on Day Four and whether they will be able to garner a total big enough to challenge India in the fourth innings. But with the wicket showing no signs of any demons in it, India should sail through any target and go to Mumbai for the penultimate Test with a 2-0 lead in hand.
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