India Qualify For The WTC Final Beating England 3-1 In Test Series!

India have crushed England by an innings and 25 runs in the fourth and last cricket test match at the Motera, Ahmedabad today and won the Test Series 3-1, thus qualifying for the World Test Championship (WTC) Final to be played at Lord’s from 18th June 2021. India needed to win the Series by at least 2-1 margin and had this match been won by the visitors the Series would have ended in a 2-2 draw in which case Australia would have qualified. There are three priceless innings from the Indians that contributed to this emphatic win at the Motera today. First and foremost, the man-of-the-match Rishabh Pant for his incredible century of 101 in just 118 balls coming in to bat at a time when India had lost 4 wickets for 80 still trailing by 125 runs to England’s first innings total of 205. There was tremendous pressure on him to stick on and at the same time pile up enough runs to help his team come back in the game. Rishabh played against his normal attacking style defending a lot with Rohit Sharma till 121 runs and then taking command with Washington Sundar coming in, slowly opening out to launch his known attacking shots all around the park, and reaching his century with a six. His handling of veteran James Anderson with the new ball had been breath-taking. Rishabh Pant’s innings can be called match-defining as it started building a crucial lead for India.


Second, the astute and stylish innings of 96 runs not out by an emerging bowling all-rounder, Washington Sundar, only on his fourth test after a brilliant debut in Australia, giving support to Pant in their most valuable partnership of 113 runs, and then taking over command with Axar Patel for company in the match-winning partnership of 106 runs. Unfortunately, he missed out on a most deserved maiden century.


Third, spin-bowling sensation Axar Patel, only on the third test of his career, played a priceless innings of 43 runs, partnering with Sundar for a hundred-run partnership that gave India an unassailable lead of 160 runs. Unfortunately, Axar got run out, missing his half-century and not being able to help Washington get his ton, at the team score of 365 which eventually became the final score as the last wickets fell on that score.


Ravichandran Ashwin who achieved the feat of 400 wickets in just 77 tests in the last match at the Motera was deservedly judged the man-of-the-series for his incredible haul of 32 wickets in the four-match series and his astounding century in the Chennai second test. He has also become only the fourth bowler of test cricket for maximum wickets in a series thanks to his 32 in only 4 tests. In this this match he and Axar have evenly divided the wickets, thus each registering a fiver. Axar in fact has had four fivers in his first three test matches with the incredible total catch of 27 wickets. For pacers, Mohammad Siraj chipped in with two wickets in England’s first innings and Ishant Sharma did not need to bowl much.   


No England batsman could hold the fort for a much-desired duration except for a half-century by Stokes and 46 by Lawrence, mystery replacement for Archer, in the first innings. Captain Joe Root has virtually become the reverse ‘Root cause’ for defeat, not able to contribute anything of significance in the last three games. In this game England perhaps missed the services of Jofra Archer who was dropped inexplicably in view of the fact Anderson and Stokes captured 7 Indian wickets and that a second spinner was indeed brought in place of Broad whose selection in the last two games had been another mystery. Dom Bess who bowled quite well in tandem with Leach in enabling England win the first test in Chennai got dropped for the next two games, and he could not regain his form after being brought in for this game. England’s second innings was an absolute disaster with the whole team collapsing for 135 runs, just a lone half-century by Dan Lawrence.


This match has also definitely given some relief to the new pitch at the Narendra Modi Stadium after the raging controversy that emerged as the inaugural pink-ball test here ended inside two days. Now it’s likely to be accepted as a challenging pitch where each playing team must prove their skills and application, because the fourth test went on for almost three days and while England again had the advantage of batting first and could not again capitalize, Indians, particularly the tailenders, showed the pitch to be an easy one in stages, by building a total of 365 that should be considered as massive on this ground.


Thanks to this test series win that also marks the 13th home series win on the trot during 2013-21 India has become the top team in ICC Test rankings and is sitting pretty at the top of the table of the WTC, with co-qualifier New Zealand next and Australia on the third position. With excellent youngsters and newfound talents India would be looking at the WTC Final against New Zealand exuding confidence. For the sixth, seventh and the eight batting positions India have players like Pant, Sundar, Ashwin, Axar and others. For the sixth position the form of Rishabh Pant has been revealing now, and his constant improvement as a wicket-keeper augurs very well for the team. Only the famed top-four Indian batting has been a disappointment except for the consistently useful knocks of Rohit Sharma. The forms of Virat Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane are real concerns at the moment. However, such class cricketers can turn the tide in their team’s favor anytime and instantly. 

Celebration times now for India with cricket legend Sunil Gavaskar's 50 years of his sensational international debut this day in 1971 against West Indies in West Indies making way for India's majestic away Series win. What nicer gift than this win and qualification for the WTC Final in the legend's honor. Not to speak about the brilliant away series win in Australia for the Border-Gavaskar Trophy this January.