England suffer abject series defeat despite James Anderson taking 700th wicket

By Sports Desk March 09, 2024

England’s tour of India ended in abject fashion as they were hammered by an innings and 64 runs inside three days, with not even James Anderson’s 700th Test wicket masking another batting capitulation.

Anderson became the third bowler and first non-spinner to reach the milestone on the third morning of the fifth Test, dismissing Kuldeep Yadav early on, but India’s lead of 259 at the halfway stage was ominous.

While Joe Root amassed 84, Ravichandran Ashwin ran amok on his 100th Test with five for 77 as England were all out for 195 in 48.1 overs in Dharamsala for a seventh loss in their last dozen Tests.

Ashwin was disruptor-in-chief, taking five wickets as England lurched to 113 for six then 141 for eight and even though Root battled away, his efforts were in vain.

India run out 4-1 series winners and while England had their moments in the first four Tests, they have been outclassed inside eight sessions at the picture-perfect HPCA Stadium in the Himalayan foothills.

The writing has been on the wall since England collapsed from 175 for three to 218 all out on the first day and, Root excepted, there were signs of scrambled minds from the batters on a relatively blameless pitch on Saturday as they succumbed to a heaviest innings loss of the Ben Stokes-Brendon McCullum era.

Ben Duckett had not ran down the wicket to the spinners in this series and had never done so against Ashwin. But perhaps a lack of trust in his defence led to him advancing to Ashwin and toe-ending on to his stumps in the second over.

The pressure told on Zak Crawley after 15 dot balls as he turned his 16th delivery to close-in fielder Sarfaraz Khan while Ollie Pope made a chancy 19 before premeditating a sweep which took a top edge and ballooned to Yashasvi Jaiswal as England’s top-three were sent packing by Ashwin inside 10 overs.

Root was busy and Jonny Bairstow purposeful in a 56-run stand off just 50 balls. Bairstow muscled three leg-side sixes in the space of seven Ashwin deliveries but Jasprit Bumrah, deputising for India captain Rohit Sharma being off the field, simply shuffled his pack and was rewarded.

Kuldeep produced a three-card trick, with two googlies negotiated before a ripping delivery that spun back in and rapped Bairstow on the pad. Encouraged to review by Root, Bairstow started trudging off for 39 off 31 deliveries long before ball-tracking confirmed his fate on his 100th Test.

Root seemed unperturbed by what was unfolding at the other end and helped England beyond three figures with a gorgeous drive for four off Kuldeep but Stokes fell to the final ball of the morning session.

Stokes’ batting returns have dwindled in this series and his dismissal for two was his fourth single-figure score in a row, outfoxed by Ashwin’s arm ball and bowled through the gate. It was the 13th time the England captain has been dismissed by Ashwin in 17 Tests. No one has more success against him.

Still 156 short of making India bat again, the writing was on the wall as Root and Ben Foakes resumed after lunch. Foakes went for an uncharacteristic slog sweep and saw his bails dislodged as Ashwin, whose family in the stands were on their feet, raised the ball to celebrate his five-for.

Tom Hartley made 20 but was deceived by a slower delivery and lbw to Bumrah, whose toe-crushing yorker two balls later meant a pair in the match for Mark Wood.

Root went to fifty with a flick for four off Bumrah and continued on his merry way, finding some support from Shoaib Bashir, who was bowled for 13 by Ravindra Jadeja and tried to review, unaware his timbers had been disturbed.

With only Anderson for company, Root went on the charge and holed out off Kuldeep to complete England’s misery 10 minutes before tea.

The morning started brightly for England as Anderson, with his father in the crowd, finally joined Muttiah Muralitharan and Shane Warne in the 700 club. The 41-year-old spent several months in the 690s but the moment came when Kuldeep hung out his bat and edged through to Foakes to depart for 30.

Anderson soaked in the congratulations of his team-mates at his historic moment held the ball aloft in a typically low-key celebration.

India added just four to their overnight total as they were all out for 477, Bumrah the last to go for 20 as Bashir claimed five for 173 from 46.1 overs. Anderson wanted Bashir to lead England off the field before the pair walked off together.

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