Recent Match Report – India vs England 3rd Test 2023/24

India 445 (Rohit 131, Jadeja 112, Sarfaraz 62, Wood 4-114) and 430 for 4 dec (Jaiswal 214*, Gill 91, Sarfaraz 68*) beat England 319 (Duckett 153, Siraj 4-84) and 122 (Wood 33, Jadeja 5-41) by 434 runs

India needed such a day. Just to send the message out to those who had started believing they could be taken down at home. A team in transition, India have lost three Tests in a little over three years, two more than they did in the preceding eight years, but in Rajkot they delivered an emphatic shellacking to their latest challengers: the 434-run win was India’s biggest by runs, and England’s second-biggest defeat.

On a spring day, with not a cloud in sight, in front of a big crowd, the Indian batting took apart the visiting bowlers to set an impossible target, before the home bowlers turned the same pitch into a minefield. Along the way, the batters broke a handful of records while threatening to break even more. It was a first showing of such dominance for this new set of batters. And it gave India the series lead, 2-1, with two to play.
Yashasvi Jaiswal, who had retired-hurt on 105, came back to end up with a second-consecutive double-hundred, in the course of which he equalled the record for the most sixes in a Test innings and carried India to the record for most sixes in a Test. India also beat their own record for most sixes in a series – with two Tests to spare in this gig, of course.
Three decades after a young left-hand batter from Mumbai announced himself on the Test stage with consecutive double-centuries, Jaiswal emulated Vinod Kambli’s feat and also became the third-youngest to two Test double-centuries. His innings included 12 sixes and 14 fours, but he had to wait to come back as the first 90 minutes belonged to the nightwatcher.
Kuldeep Yadav absolutely bossed the early exchanges, hitting his first six in international cricket, defending properly, making England burn a review, running Shubman Gill out nine short of hundred, and eventually hurting Joe Root’s finger when he offered him the catch that got him.
In the company of his Mumbai senior but India junior, Test debutant Sarfaraz Khan, Jaiswal resumed watchfully before they both got into an exhibition and a competition of power-hitting and gap-finding. Jaiswal was the clear winner as Sarfaraz managed only 68 in a 172-run stand in just 26.2 overs.
Jaiswal’s assault included a hat-trick of sixes off James Anderson, a sweep, an extra-cover drive and a bludgeon back down the ground. Memories of George Bailey were refreshed, the only other batter to hit Anderson for three consecutive sixes. Jaiswal reached 180 by the end of that over, and then slowed down in the approach towards 200.

That only gave Sarfaraz a chance to shine. He began his assault with slow-sweeps to foil Rehan Ahmed’s plan to bowl into the rough outside the leg stump. Then he took down Root, who had been bowling down the leg side. When he hit Rehan for a six, four and a six in the 98th over, there was half a thought even he might get a chance to covert his two fifties on debut into a fifty and a hundred. Rohit Sharma, though, pulled the plug on the innings, setting England 557 in about 130 overs.

The result might never have been in doubt, but India needed to correct something at the start of the innings having gone for four half-century opening stands in the last five innings. Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Siraj were on the money, and the ball moved a little bit for them. The innings started with two maidens, Ben Duckett took 12 balls to get off the mark, and then looked for a risky single in the seventh over, which converted into a run-out thanks to a sprint to the wicket from debuting wicketkeeper Dhruv Jurel, who collected a throw on the half-volley and broke the wicket even while on the move. This was England’s first opening stand of under 40 in the series.

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In an eight-over spell split down the middle by tea, Bumrah tested the top order thoroughly. One of the balls seamed in past Zak Crawley’s inside edge and got him lbw. After the tea break, R Ashwin was back in action after he had left Rajkot on the second night to tend to a family health emergency.

Ashwin, though, was not required to do much. Ravindra Jadeja and Kuldeep were all over England. Ollie Pope was the first one to fall to spin, looking to cut but done in by quick turn and a sharp catch by Rohit at slip.

England lost the spine of their batting to the sweep, a shot that tormented India in Hyderabad. Jonny Bairstow, all at sea this series, and Root, who has bowled more overs than he has scored runs this series, chose balls too full for the shot, and were caught in front. Ben Stokes was done in by dip from Kuldeep.

Three wickets fell on the same score of 50. At the end of 25 overs, England were 50 for 7; that was by far England’s slowest first 25 overs of an innings in the Bazball era, 74 being their previous lowest.

The difference in the quality of the two set of spinners was obvious. For India the ball did all sorts both with bounce and laterally, with a wicket never looking too far off. Ben Foakes and Tom Hartley frustrated India for close to half an hour, but Jadeja came back to take two of the last three wickets. It was the first five-for for an India spinner this series, to go with his first-innings century, at his hometown no less, to end a difficult week when a domestic dispute made its way into the news on a high.

In between those two wickets, Ashwin, who had made the long trip to Chennai and back, found a wicket, his 250th left-hand victim to go with 251 right-hand ones.

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