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IND vs ENG | 4th Test Day 3 Talking Points - Washington Sundar’s promise and England’s mental demon

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Washington Sundar played a perfect innings

BCCI

IND vs ENG | 4th Test Day 3 Talking Points - Washington Sundar’s promise and England’s mental demon

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Bastab K Parida

03/06/2021

After India secured a first-innings lead of 160 runs, it was the duo of Ravichandran Ashwin and Axar Patel who wrapped up the game in no time as England folded out for a minuscule 135 runs. With this innings and 25 runs victory, India have secured their place in the World Test Championship final.

Washington Sundar is here to stay

Washington Sundar started his career as an opener but slowly moved down the order due to the non-availability of spots in the packed Tamil Nadu team. Ironically, this even after scoring his only first-class century as an opener against Tripura but the likes of Abhinav Mukund, Murali Vijay, and the Baba brothers had the top-order on the edge. But if the stories of the last one and half month is anything to go by, no one can now doubt Washington’s immense potential as a proper Test batsman and someone who is ready to grit it out in the middle for a long period of time in the face of adversity.

After the dream debut in Gabba, his father spoke about how he wanted Washington to score centuries and not be dismissed on cute fifties and he almost had the opportunity to do that twice in this series. Firstly, in Chennai, he batted with a lot of composure after the team found itself under the pump and left stranded on 85. In Ahmedabad once again, his partnership with Rishabh Pant ended England’s hopes of leveling the series and Australia’s hopes of reaching the World Test Championship final, yet a century remained elusive. 

However, with the knock, Washington has made one thing clear that he is well equipped to be given a long gig with the Indian Test side and perhaps demands a spot in the top-order if the situation arises. Not a one-trick pony, he can very well end up being a regular in the Test set-up, even with the presence of Ashwin and Jadeja.

England lost the game in their mind more than the skills

On Day 1 Talking Points, we spoke about how England’s mental scars resulted in the likes of Ben Stokes and Dominic Sibley playing for the turn, instead of being focused on the pre-devised plan. But from the showings of Day 3, it was evident that it was just a part of a bigger narrative. England lost the game in the mind much before it happened on the pitch.

With Axar and Washington in the middle, it was imperative for Joe Root to start with the pacers - which he did with James Anderson - but instead of bringing Jack Leach as the first spinner, he went ahead with the match-up scenario. Dom Bess, who has had a torrid Test match, was no match honestly, with his full tosses allowing the duo to settle down and extend the lead to as much as they could. Those were cricketing instincts but England looked defeated in their look and had almost resigned to their fate.

An India tour drains you out and especially when someone comes from the English winter straight to the sapping Indian summer, the mindset is palpable. But England are a top Test team who have put up some brave fights in the last few years. By dropping the ball completely, England disappointed their own fans and in a way, made an anti-climatic end to an otherwise gripping series.

Lawrence’s willingness to learn big a positive for England

Dan Lawrence is full of promise. He showed that in Sri Lanka and in the first innings of the ongoing Test when he was easily the best English batsman. However, promise often ends in a diametrically sadder epilogue if it is not backed by proper denomination. That’s where his second innings knock - albeit, pointless in the larger scheme of things - matters a lot. 

There was no denom on the wicket apart from the usual turn of Day 3, but Lawrence pushed himself down the ground and was ready to face the challenge came his way. After being added to the set-up as a replacement for Archer so as to strengthen the batting order,  the Essex batsman showed his value with a clear sense of judgement of his off-stump by following the trajectory of the Axar arm-ball and Ashwin’s finger-spinners that turned from a length.

He is now just four-Tests-old but just like Cameron Green did in the Border-Gavaskar Trophy, he has shown a great amount of application to hang in there and play according to the situations. Only if he had some support from the other end, things could have been a lot different than what it is now.

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