AHMEDABAD, February 26: Victorious India and dejected England players took a rest Friday on what should have been the third day of a key five-day clash, with warnings that the speed of the result had tarnished the Test format.
New spin hero Axar Patel took 11 wickets in two innings as India cruised to a 10 wicket victory that put them 2-1 up in the series.
The win came alongside complaints about the Ahmedabad pitch, while Indian captain Virat Kohli lambasted the batting on both sides.
But many commentators said Test cricket had been damaged by its 22nd two-day match in history as the longer format fights the mounting popularity of Twenty20.
“Finished in two days. Not sure if that’s good for test cricket,” said former India batsman Yuvraj Singh on Twitter.
Former England skipper Michael Vaughan expressed fears for cricket’s crucial broadcasting revenues.
“My worry for the future of Test match cricket is that Channel 4 would have bid an amount of money to put Test match cricket on the station for us all to see,” he told BBC.
“Will they bid the next time? Knowing they only got three days last week and two days this week. So that’s five days out of 10.”
Two-day matches are rare. It was India’s first since they thrashed Afghanistan in Bangalore in 2018.
Travelling fans also complained at the result in the world’s biggest cricket stadium, with a capacity of 110,000, in Ahmedabad.
Authorities ordered a 55,000 limit for the match because of coronavirus restrictions. Crowds were about 30,000 for each day.
“I had got tickets for all five days but sadly nothing can be done now as there is no refund,” Harsh Patel, who had come from Mumbai, told AFP.
“Now I will just go sightseeing. But India won and that was good.”
Another fan said: “I don’t care about anything as long as India wins. That’s my money’s worth.”
England captain Joe Root, who took five wickets with his off spin, said he felt for the fans.
“They have come to watch Virat Kohli face Jimmy Anderson and Stuart Broad or Jack Leach, and watch Ashwin against our top batters like Ben Stokes,” he said.
“I almost feel like they have been robbed.”
Root said his own bowling performance “sums up the wicket”, while former Australian international Mark Waugh called the pitch “unacceptable”.
But Kohli defended the wicket, saying both sides were let down by their batting, and opener Rohit Sharma insisted there were “no demons” in the pitch.
England great Geoffrey Boycott agreed that his country could not blame the pitch for their humiliating defeat.
“There is nothing in the rules that says what type of pitch should be prepared,” Boycott wrote on Twitter. “We had first choice of the surface and they were better than us. Simple.”
The fourth Test begins March 4 at the same venue. (AFP)