When Adil Rashid, who has otherwise been one of the best England bowlers this series, dropped Virat Kohli on 68, the England camp feared the worst. India were still 85 runs behind and had undergone a mini-collapse, losing Parthiv Patel and Ravichandran Ashwin in the space of just four balls. Kohli's wicket at that time would have been a killer blow for India.
The Indian captain capitalised on that 'life' to notch up the 15th hundred of his career and the fourth this year. And then, Jayant Yadav was dropped by Joe Root – the person who had, in fact, triggered the mini-collapse in the Indian innings in the first place with his bowling.
Two huge mistakes, by two of the most dependable players in the England squad and untold misery followed as a result. That really summed up England's day at the Wankhede on Saturday.
You don't expect to be doing well if you let a batsman of the calibre of Kohli off. Inevitably, the Indian captain made the visitors pay, bringing up not only a century, but 2,000 runs as a captain, 1,000 Test runs in a calendar year, 500 runs in the series and 4,000 career runs in Tests.
Kohli got able support from Murali Vijay, who stroked his way to his second century of the series, and Jayant, who is fast turning into a vital cog in the Indian lower middle order.
After posting a commendable 400 in the first innings, England's meek show with the ball has handed the reins firmly in India's hands. The hosts have a 51-run lead after Day 3, with Kohli not out on 147 and poised for a cavalry charge on Day 4. That is what England would want to prevent, though.
The day may have belonged to India, but all is still not lost for England. The pitch is offering considerable help for the spinners, and batting will get harder and harder hereafter. Kohli's wicket now is the key for both sides. Getting Kohli early on Day 4 would be the difference between a deficit of let's say, 70 and that of 150. If Kohli is allowed to score as freely as he has been, in no time India's lead would read 100, 150, 200 and so on.
Realistically speaking, England would not want the hosts to get a lead more than 70 to 80, though even that can be decisive on a typical tiring subcontinent wicket. India do bat extremely deep and Bhuvneshwar Kumar at No 10 is no mug with the bat, but if England can get Kohli before lunch on Day 4, they would believe the tail-enders could be tackled easily.
England would desperately want to make sure that India bats in the fourth innings. Chasing even 150 runs in the last innings would not be a child's play at the Wankhede, but if Kohli is allowed to dictate terms and rally the lower order around himself, the hosts may score enough to preclude the possibility of batting last. England, in that case, would have to bat last, which given their frailties against spin, is not exactly what they would want.
The solution for them on Day 4 is simple: get Kohli early, wrap up the Indian innings as early as possible, bat the day out and put some good runs on the board.
Updated Date: Dec 11, 2016 06:40:33 IST