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Patel spins England before Rohit takes command

Spinner Axar Patel claimed a career-best 6-38 as India weaved their web to spin out England for 112 on the opening day and to take charge of the day-night third Test.

Rohit Sharma then helped the hosts weather a top-order wobble of their own on Wednesday to finish an eventful 13-wicket day on 99-3 at the newly-renamed Narendra Modi Stadium, the world’s biggest cricket arena.

Rohit, a centurion in India’s win in the second Test in Chennai, was still there on 57 at the close with Ajinkya Rahane on one as the hosts were left eyeing a handy first-innings lead with the series level at 1-1.

Earlier, England captain Joe Root’s decision to bat backfired as the touring side folded in 48.4 overs inside two sessions despite Zak Crawley’s assured, stroke-filled 53.

On a track where the ball spun from the first session, the England batsmen repeatedly played for the turn and got beaten by the straight ball. They made four changes to their team but a rejigged top-order failed.

Playing his 100th Test, seamer Ishant Sharma dismissed Dom Sibley in the third over before the spinners took over. Left-armer Patel trapped Jonny Bairstow, lbw for nought, with his first delivery.

At the other end, Crawley appeared to be batting on a different pitch, dealing mostly in boundaries and bringing up his fifty off 68 balls. Before his partnership with Root could really flourish, however, Ravichandran Ashwin (3-26) intervened.

The wily off-spinner dismissed Root lbw for 17. The England captain reviewed the decision to no avail. Patel ended Crawley’s knock in similar fashion to trigger a batting collapse and England lost their last eight wickets for 38 runs.

Jack Leach’s dismissal of Virat Kohli was the biggest respite for the visitors. PHOTO: ICC

India, who had unhappy memories of their dismal pink ball failure in Adelaide during their second test defeat by Australia, did not find scoring easy either against the swinging ball under the lights in the final session.

The usually fluent Shubman Gill took 27 balls to open his account while Rohit mixed caution with occasional aggression in his fifty.

Jofra Archer dismissed Gill for 11 and Jack Leach removed Cheteshwar Pujara for a duck but Rohit’s 64-run partnership with Virat Kohli helped India maintain their upper hand in the contest.

Ollie Pope dropped Kohli at gully but Leach dismissed the India captain when he chopped a delivery on to his stumps to depart for 27 in the final over.


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