Ahmedabad (Gujarat) [India], February 24 (ANI): England opener Zak Crawley's dismissal at the brink of the tea break handed India the honours in the opening session of the pink-ball Test at the Narendra Modi Stadium on Wednesday.
Skipper Virat Kohli might have lost the toss in the third Test, but his bowlers ensured that the hosts dominated the first session. Going into the tea break, the visitors' score read 81/4 with Ollie Pope (1) and all-rounder Ben Stokes (6) at the crease.
Axar Patel was the pick of the Indian bowlers as he picked two wickets to send back Jonny Bairstow (0) and the dangerous Crawley (53). R Ashwin and Ishant Sharma kept the pressure alive as they picked a wicket apiece.
If Ishant drew first blood in his 100th Test, it was Ashwin and Axar's wickets of Joe Root (17) and Crawley respectively that ensured that the hosts walked back to the dressing room with smiles on their faces.
Opting to bat first, England got off to the worst possible start as Ishant removed Dom Sibley for a duck. Crawley hit some timely boundaries and stitched a brief 25-run stand with Jonny Bairstow as England raced to 27 in the next two overs.
But Axar Patel struck with his first ball trapping Bairstow in front of the stumps as England recorded their second duck of the game.
While Crawley continued to rotate the strike with Root, the England captain collected his first boundary driving the ball down the ground off Ishant.
The visitors crossed the 50-run mark in the 14th over of the innings, with Crawley alone scoring 39 of those runs. England suffered the biggest jolt when seasoned off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin got the wicket of Root, trapped in front.
While Root did go for the review, but the decision stayed with the on-field umpire as the England skipper had to walk back as the review showed that the ball was hitting the top of the leg stump.
Ashwin not only broke the 47-run stand for the third wicket, but also gave India an upper hand. In the concluding minutes, Axar struck again and removed Crawley to leave England in trouble.
Earlier, England made four changes in their squad as they included James Anderson, Jofra Archer, Bairstow, and Crawley in place of Rory Burns, Dan Lawrence, Olly Stone, and Moeen Ali. On the other hand, the hosts made two changes as Jasprit Bumrah came in for Mohammed Siraj while Washington Sundar came in for Kuldeep Yadav.
Brief Scores: England 81/4 (Zak Crawley 53; Axar Patel 2-30) (ANI)