On a pitch where only an odd ball was turning on the first day, the key for India spinners was to bowl into the stumps. Axar Patel, the left-arm spinner who returned a six-wicket haul, admitted the ploy of bowling within wickets worked for him and R. Ashwin to perfection.

“Since the ball was skidding, you prefer bowling wicket-to-wicket because if the batsman tends to play on the backfoot, you have a good chance of getting an lbw or bowled. I was discussing the same with Ash that the ball wasn’t turning a lot so we planned to bowl wicket-to-wicket,” Axar said after the opening day’s play.

Axar has been renowned for bamboozling batsmen with his arm-ball in domestic cricket. Over the last two weeks, he has repeated the streak, leaving England batsmen flummoxed. Crediting former India offspinner M. Venkataramana for honing his skills as a teenager at the National Cricket Academy…

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