England has produced one of its worst Test cricket results, falling to fallen to a two-day match described as “mayhem”.
Seventeen wickets fell in just two sessions in the day-night third Test in Ahmedabad on Thursday as batsmen on both sides were left in a spin by the pink ball – before India eased to a 10-wicket victory.
Former England captain Sir Alastair Cook admitted he felt uncomfortable watching the “mayhem” of India’s rapid victory.
Cook called India a worthy winner – but felt the state of the pitch meant “there’s something that doesn’t sit quite right.”
“It doesn’t look great when India win by 10 wickets because it was a lot closer than that actually,” England’s leading Test run-scorer said on Channel 4.
“India deserved the win. Obviously they are better in those conditions, but it was a tough Test match to watch. The pitch had such a big influence on that.
“That was so hard playing against spin today. India lost seven for 40 when the pressure was on, England were all out for 80. That is incredibly hard to bat against.
“I was sitting here thinking how would I have played against certain balls, what game plan. I can’t work out a low-risk strategy that would have been successful – unless you have a lot of luck.
“I don’t like that on day two. On day four I’d have no problem. People can say that’s sour grapes.
“The better side won, and that’s fair play to India, but there’s something that doesn’t quite sit right.”
Left-arm spinner Axar Patel was adjudged man-of-the-match for his haul of 11-70.
England posted 112 and 81, losing 19 of its 20 wickets to the Indian spinners.
On a viciously turning track, England captain Joe Root claimed his maiden Test five-wicket haul and fellow spinner Jack Leach completed figures of 4-54.
Former England spinner Phil Tufnell felt “a little bit bit let down” by the early outcome inside two days.
“I feel a little bit deprived. It was boiling into a fantastic series and it’s sort of become a bit of a shootout,” he said.
“It has taken away a bit of the skill from the players. I feel a little bit let down.”
Former England captain Michael Vaughan added on his Twitter account: “Entertaining .. YES .. but this is an awful pitch for Test cricket .. !!!! Complete lottery on day 2 !!”
It wasn’t just ex-England players complaining. Former India international Yuvraj Singh tweeted: “Finished in two days. Not sure if that’s good for Test cricket!.
“If [former India bowlers] Anil Kumble and Harbhajan Singh bowled on these kind of wickets, they would be sitting on a thousand and 800.”
But India’s captain Virat Kohli defended the spin-friendly pitch. He felt the match finished in two days because of the failure of batsmen on both sides to apply themselves to knuckling down against the spinners.
“It was a very good pitch to bat on, especially in the first innings,” Kohli said after India went 2-1 up in the four-Test series.
“We felt like the ball was coming on nicely with the odd ball turning but it was below-par batting from both teams.
“Our bowlers were much more effective and that’s why we got the result.”
Kohli pointed out that most of the batsmen fell to deliveries that did not turn.
“It was bizarre that out of the 30 wickets, 21 were off straight balls,” he said.
“I feel that’s just lapse of concentration or indecision or too many things going on in your head as a batter when you are playing for the turn but getting beaten on the inside.
“It was the classic example of batsmen not applying themselves enough, and maybe that’s why it was such a quick game.”
One-time England superstar Kevin Pietersen also rejected criticism of the Ahmedabad pitch, saying: “If England had won this Test match there is no way we would be sitting here hammering the wicket.
“Yes there was definitely an overriding ball wins over bat in this Test match but it was a one-off. You are in the sub-continent. When you go to Perth, what happens there?”