India outplayed England in every department at Mohali despite losing KL Rahul and Wriddhiman Saha before the match and won the third Test by eight wickets. The hosts now lead the five-match Test series 2-0.
Here are five key moments from the match that ultimately helped India win:
Mindless Root, Ashwin’s redemption
Dropped catches have been the norm of the series. India started with them at Rajkot and continued to do so on Day 1 at Mohali. Alastair Cook was given two extra lives early on. First, he was put down by Ravindra Jadeja off Mohammed Shami in the slip cordon. Then, Ravichandran Ashwin dropped a dolly at mid-wicket to deny Shami Cook’s wicket one more time. Captain Virat Kohli was livid. It was an unsatisfying hour and the hosts needed some inspiration to bounce back. And they soon did so in style. Jayant Yadav dismissed Joe Root on the very first ball after drinks. His captain followed him the next over as Cook edged to Parthiv Patel for 27, unable to make the most of the dropped chances. All of a sudden, the visitors had lost their two best batsmen in a span of six balls. From there on, the Indian bowlers didn’t allow England any easy runs and sustained pressure throughout the innings to snatch away the advantage of winning the toss.
Buttler’s costly error
There was only a brief moment on Day 1 when spectators could perhaps feel that the England side were successful in frustrating the hosts. It was when Jonny Bairstow and Jos Buttler, who had returned to the side after an absence of one year, were batting in the centre. Buttler counter-attacked while Bairstow was more than happy to play the second fiddle. None of the bowling changes seemed to be working. The partnership was worth 69 runs, when Buttler came down the track and drove Jadeja’s delivery straight to Kohli at covers. His wicket came at a crucial juncture as it meant that for the rest of the innings, Bairstow had to bat with the tail.
Lower-order takes charge
When Kohli and Cheteshwar Pujara walked out after tea on Day 2, the score read 148/2. India were in a strong position, but Pujara fell on the second ball of the session. A flurry of wickets followed as Ajinkya Rahane, Karun Nair and Kohli took the long walk back to the hut barely within 10 overs. England were in the driver’s seat as the home side still trailed by 127 runs. It wouldn't be wrong to label Ashwin as a "proper batsman" in India. Time and again, he has stood up in adversities and bailed India out of tough positions. But this time around, a solitary contribution wouldn’t have been enough. The need of the hour was to gain an unassailable lead and the lower-order responded. Ashwin, along with Jadeja ensured that the hosts don’t lose another wicket on Day 2. They continued their resolute efforts on Day 3. Even Jayant chipped in with a valiant fifty after Ashwin’s wicket. Had it not been for Ashwin, Jadeja and Jayant’s 217 runs, India would’ve found it difficult to put England under pressure.
Kohli’s gutsy review
India’s run with the Decision Review System (DRS) has been far from impressive. The series has seen some hasty reviews from the hosts, and if there’s one aspect where England have edged ahead of Kohli and co, it is the DRS. However, the Indians seemed to have learnt from their mistakes. On Day 3, in the very last over, there was a huge shout for LBW but umpire Chris Gaffaney turned it down, signalling that it hit the bat. Ashwin persistently demanded for a review and Kohli paused for a brief thought before opting for it. It turned out to an excellent decision. Stokes was hit on his back pad right in front of the off stump and the replays displayed three reds on HawkEye. Stokes had been in good nick in the series so far and getting him out with five balls to go for stumps was a huge boost for Kohli’s men.
Shami strikes twice in an over
How often have we seen an Indian bowler bounce out the opposition? Shami did just that at Mohali and it was a sight to behold. His first bouncer hit Woakes on his helmet and his neck guard came off instantly. However, Shami didn’t yield. He banged in short again and Woakes top edged the ball to Parthiv Patel. Adil Rashid came out to bat, expecting a short one, but Shami bowled a full delivery. Rashid fell prey to the pacer’s short ball treatment on the next ball pulling it straight to Umesh Yadav at fine leg.