The writing was on the wall for England after Rishabh Pant and Washington Sundar put together that magnificent 113-run stand for the seventh-wicket changing the match on its head on Day 2 for India. But no one quite expected the visitors to capitulate so quickly on Day 3. England were once again tormented by the Indian spinners and bowled out for their 6th below-200 total in eight innings in the series to hand India a massive series win by an innings and 25 runs and with it a place alongside New Zealand in the final of the World Test Championship at Lords in June this year.
Partnerships win matches - that old cricketing adage could not have been more true than with respect to India in the fourth and final Test in Ahmedabad. Two partnerships defined the match for India. Rishabh Pant and Washington Sundar came together at 146 for 6 with the hosts in serious trouble and put together a match-defining stand for the seventh-wicket. After taking a massive lead of 160 in the first innings, the spin wizards from India - R Ashwin and Axar Patel ran through the England batting line-up routing them for a paltry 135.
The day started with India resuming their first innings at 294 for 7 with Sundar unbeaten on 60 and Patel undefeated on 11. The pair added India’s second consecutive century stand of the innings taking the score to 365 before Patel was run-out for a gutsy 43. Ben Stokes made sure that the last two Indian wickets fell without adding an additional run. India had taken a match-defining lead of 160. From 40 off 92 deliveries till Pant was dismissed, Sundar went on to score an unbeaten 96 off 174 deliveries which included 10 fours and a six. This meant that he had accelerated and scored his last 56 runs off 82 deliveries.
England were expected to provide stubborn resistance on a pitch which was providing assistance to both the faster men and the spinners but was still a good wicket to occupy the crease and score runs if the batsmen put their heads down - as displayed by the Indian lower-order.
But Ashwin and Patel had other plans.
The off spinner beat Zak Crawley with a classic off spinner before inducing the edge with a one that went straight through for a simple catch to Ajinkya Rahane at slip. England had lost their first wicket in the 5th over with the score at 10. Ashwin made it two in two for India when he dismissed Jonny Bairstow for his third duck in the last four innings getting caught at leg slip by Rohit Sharma. Ashwin had made a double breakthrough in his very first over of the innings.
Dom Sibley had given a fine performance in the first innings of the series opener but since then witnessed his fortunes dwindle rather quickly. When the runs are hard to come by, even luck evades you. Sibley swept a delivery from Patel which struck the knee of short-leg, Shubman Gill only to lob up for a sitter to Pant. England were in dire straits at 20 for 3. Ben Stokes could not repeat his heroics from the first innings and was caught at leg slip by Kohli to become Patel’s second victim. Another England batsman fell to the sweep shot.
Skipper Joe Root and Ollie Pope tried to bring about some normalcy to the proceedings putting together 35 for the fifth-wicket before the latter was foxed by the left-armer and stumped by Pant behind the stumps. Root followed in the next over and was dismissed in identical fashion as in the first innings of the Day and Night Test at the same venue - playing back he was trapped leg before wicket by Ashwin from around the wicket. The writing was on the wall for the visitors at 65 for 6.
Daniel Lawrence and Ben Foakes provided some resistance before Patel sent the latter packing for 13. He picked up his fourth fifer in six innings when he dismissed Dom Bess in his very next over. At 111 for 8, England were heading for a big innings defeat. Patel ended with 5-48 in 24 overs while Ashwin picked the 30th fifer of his career returning with 5-47 in 22.5 overs.
Ashwin picked 32 wickets in the series at an average of 14.71 while Patel returned with 27 at 10.59 a piece at a strike rate of 28.3. Rohit Sharma was India’s standout batsman of the series. He produced a match-winning hundred in the second Test in Chennai before top-scoring once again with a fine 66 on a challenging pitch and tough conditions in the Pink Ball Test at Motera. Pant did a Rohit in the last Test at Ahmedabad while Sundar the batsman silenced the critics of Sundar the bowler with another masterclass performance when his team needed it the most.
England had their chances in the series but failed to capitalize. They won a good toss in this Test too but the batsmen let them down in the first innings.
India continued their dominance at home and wrapped up another series win. They have now won every bilateral Test series at home since losing to England in 2012. The win at Motera also meant that India had reserved a place alongside New Zealand in the final of the World Test Championship at Lords in June this year.