India blast their way past Bazball to seal Test series win against England

India win the fifth and final Test in three days to take the series against England 3-1 as Bazball is questioned again.

India maintained their aura of invincibility at home after completing a 4-1 series triumph against England on Saturday.

The ease of their final win may well subject the visitors’ much-hyped “Bazball” approach to renewed scrutiny.

Rohit Sharma and his men clinched the series in the fourth Test in Ranchi but did not take their foot off the pedal in Dharamshala, where they routed England inside three days.

The win, which consolidates two-time finalists India’s position at the top of the World Test Championship standings, will have a special place in the memory of Ravichandran Ashwin.

The India off-spinner claimed five second-innings wickets to hasten England’s collapse in his 100th test match.

𝙒.𝙄.𝙉.𝙉.𝙀.𝙍.𝙎! 🏆

Congratulations #TeamIndia on winning the @IDFCFIRSTBank #INDvENG Test Series 4⃣-1⃣ 👏👏

— BCCI (@BCCI) March 9, 2024

India’s 17th consecutive home Test series win

England seamer James Anderson, meanwhile, became the first pace bowler to claim 700 test wickets, partially lifting the gloom that had settled on England’s travelling “Barmy Army” fans.

This was India’s 17th consecutive Test series win at home, where they have not lost a series since Alastair Cook’s England bested them in 2012.

And they achieved it without batting stalwart Virat Kohli, who missed the series for personal reasons, and front-line seamer Mohammed Shami who was injured.

Batter KL Rahul missed the last four Tests with injury, as well, but India’s formidable bench strength meant their absence was not really felt.

Of the five Indian players who made their test debut in the series, stumper Dhruv Jurel, seamer Akash Deep and batters Sarfaraz Khan and Devdutt Padikkal impressed immediately.

“I just always really believe that there’s an incredible amount of talent in India and a lot of young people, young players coming through,” India head coach Rahul Dravid said.

“And it was a great opportunity for them to step up and show how good they are, and we saw that right throughout the series.”

Defeat in Dharamshala.

Congratulations to @BCCI on their series victory 👏

Match Centre: | #EnglandCricket

— England Cricket (@englandcricket) March 9, 2024

Duckett’s dismal dismissal

Under Stokes and head coach Brendon “Baz” McCullum, England have espoused a flamboyant, even if risk-fraught, brand of cricket built around fearless batting.

The same approach that largely worked back home appeared somewhat one-dimensional and even reckless.

Opener Ben Duckett’s dismissal on Saturday illustrated the limitation of that approach.

Having conceded a first-innings lead of 259, England were already far behind and would have benefitted from cautious, safety-first batting to avoid an innings defeat.

Instead, whether due to a lack of trust in his own defence or an urge to impose himself early, Duckett charged forward against Ashwin only to miss the ball and lose his off-stump.

The opener was so far down the track, he would have been stumped if he had not been bowled.

By contrast, Joe Root, who struck 84 in England’s meagre second-innings 195, showed how touring batters can temper their aggression to master spin in India.

Stokes stood by his side’s overall approach, however, and was of the view that a good offence was the best defence against the wily home spinners.

“When India get on top, especially with the ball, they get a lot of men around the bat and with the quality of their [spin] bowlers … you’ve got to find ways of getting rid of those close fielders,” the all-rounder explained.

“You’ve just got to be positive enough to take that risk, accept that it may lead to your downfall. But when the intent is there and you have a clear reason as to why you are playing that shot, you can hold your hands up and accept it.”



Al Jazeera and news agencies

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