IND vs ENG: Rohit fifty drives India after Axar's 6 for 38

Axar’s six-wicket haul - his second fifer in as many Test appearances - ensured England could not drive the advantage of winning the toss on a turning track for the pink-ball Test.

Axar Patel picked 6 for 38 as England folded for 112 in its first innings.   -  BCCI

Axar Patel’s family used to put up a giant screen at his hometown Nadiad, around an hour’s drive from Ahmedabad, whenever he featured in a televised match. Playing a Test at the home of Gujarat cricket for the first time, the left-arm spinner derailed England batting to hog the limelight on Wednesday, the first day of the third Test.

Axar’s six-wicket haul - his second fifer in as many Test appearances - ensured England squandered the advantage of winning the toss on a turning track for the pink-ball Test. The visiting side folded for a paltry 112 in less than two sessions.

Opening batsman Rohit Sharma continued his silken touch with the willow. His unbeaten fifty helped India end the day at 99 for three at the Narendra Modi Stadium, renamed from the Sardar Patel (Gujarat) Stadium minutes before the start of the match.

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Even before Axar was introduced into the attack in the seventh over, England - with four changes to its playing XI, preferring a solitary specialist spinner in Jack Leach - had suffered a blow. Ishant Sharma celebrated his 100th Test appearance in style, forcing Dom Sibley to poke at a delivery that rose slightly to offer Rohit catching practice at second slip.

Axar didn’t have to wait too long though as Jonny Bairstow misread the line off a straight one, which was the left-arm spinner’s first ball of the day. That sparked off the trend of England batsmen playing down the wrong line for the rest of the afternoon.

Ben Stokes, Ollie Pope and Jofra Archer committed the same mistake. Senior spinner R. Ashwin tightened the noose in the first session by getting the prized scalp of Joe Root. The England captain was guilty of playing on the backfoot to one that missed the inside edge of his bat and rapped on to the pads.

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While Ashwin was flawless, Axar was rewarded for varying his pace. Bowling within a range of early 70s to mid-90s kph, Axar bamboozled the England batsmen, who seemed to have far from recovered from last week’s debacle at Chepauk. The only exception to ordinary batting was opener Zak Crawley, who made his maiden appearance in the series count with an impressive innings. His successive boundaries off Ishant - a straight drive followed by a whip through mid-wicket - were among the highlights of the day.

Moments after reaching his fifty, he was undone by Axar’s skidder on the cusp of tea break. It resulted in a collapse after lunch as England lost six wickets for 31 runs. The Indian openers then had to see off around half an hour before the dinner break.

In the last session, Rohit dealt with Jofra Archer’s short-ball ploy but Shubman Gill’s over-ambitious pull resulted in his dismissal. Cheteshwar Pujara then joined the spree of playing down the wrong line, giving Leach his first wicket off the fourth ball he faced. The bespectacled spinner ended the day with a wider smile when captain Virat Kohli played one on to the stumps in the last over of the day.