After a week-long break, England returned to Mumbai, the venue where they had defeated India comprehensively four years ago, courtesy Kevin Pietersen’s 186. Their confidence going into the must-win Test might not have been as high as it was in 2012, but England could still take some inspiration from their impressive record at the Wankhede Stadium.
However, India beat Alastair Cook’s men comprehensively to win the fourth Test by an innings and 36 runs despite missing key players — Ajinkya Rahane, frontline seamer Mohammed Shami and first choice keeper Wriddhiman Saha. The hosts outclassed England to seal the series and regain the Anthony de Mello trophy with a match to spare.
Here are some of the turning points from the fourth Test:
Ashwin takes two wickets within three balls
Having won the toss, Cook and Keaton Jennings made full use of the first day pitch and stitched together a stand of 99 before Ravindra Jadeja stumped Cook out. Joe Root followed him shortly after lunch. However, wickets didn't come that easily for the hosts as Moeen Ali battled it out with Jennings at the centre. Ali, after initially struggling in his innings, decided to counter attack Indian spinners. He came down the track and whacked Jadeja over deep mid-wicket for a maximum before sweeping Jayant Yadav twice in the 67th over for boundaries.
The match was in England's control, and that's when Kohli reintroduced Ashwin into the attack. The score read 230/2 and Ali-Jennings were six short of completing their 100-run partnership. On the second ball of the 70th over, Ali decided to unleash the slog sweep again, but in the process he top edged it to Karun Nair. The southpaw was criticised severely for playing a reckless shot shortly after reaching his half-century, though this was the very approach that helped him to get to the milestone. The bowling change had worked, India's mainstay broke the partnership. Little did anyone know that he had more to offer. He bowled a tossed-up delivery two balls later, drawing Jennings forward to defend. The debutant fell for it and edged the ball to Cheteshwar Pujara at 1st slip. Within three balls, Ashwin had removed two set batsman to bring Jonny Bairstow and Ben Stokes to the crease.
Vijay's return to form
Before the fourth Test, one of the talking points was Murali Vijay's lean patch. The Tamil Nadu opener slammed a century in the first innings at Rajkot. However, he failed to go over the 20-run mark in his next five forays at the crease. Questions were raised about his inability to tackle short balls. But India's chief coach Anil Kumble backed the opener and insisted that a big score was round the corner. And Vijay reciprocated Kumble's support with a fine knock at Mumbai.
To begin, Vijay had some luck as Bairstow missed an easy stumping when he was on 45. But apart from that, Vijay's knock of 136 was immaculate. He showed valour after India lost Pujara on the second ball of Day 3. The shot that summed up his innings was a lofted six off Ali towards long-on. He, along with Kohli, took India's total past the 250-run mark, snatching away whatever little advantage England had after Pujara's wicket.
Kohli leads from the front
132nd over. James Anderson vs Kohli. Anderson bowls it on Kohli's pads. The Indian captain shuffles across and flicks it. There was a deep mid-wicket and a deep square-leg deployed by Cook but Kohli picked the gap between them to get a boundary. This shot encapsulates his double ton. He made it look so easy.
Kohli's innings was one that displayed his maturity, determination and hunger to bat long. The leap in the air after he got to his 15th Test century clearly showed how much it meant to him. He arrived at the crease on the third ball of Day 3, batted through the whole day with an overnight score of 147. He continued on Sunday, still having the energy to attack the English bowlers and ultimately score 235. The entire innings just goes to show how fit Kohli is.
Stubborn Jayant bats England out of the game
It seemed like England had staged a comeback after India went from 262/2 to 307/6. Jadeja swung his bat a bit before being dismissed for 25 with the score reading 364/7. Cook and Co had a great chance to bundle the hosts out before 425, if not 400. However, Jayant had different intentions. He turned on a defensive mode in the last session of third day and gave his captain, who was at the crease for more than four hours, some respite.
On Day 4, when England set defensive fields for Kohli, Jayant attacked the bowlers to tire the opposition and leave Cook clueless. He not only scored his maiden century but stayed with Kohli for more than 58 overs for their stand of 241 that came at a brisk rate of 4.10. At one stage, it felt as if India would do well to gain a lead of 50. It was this pair, especially Kohli, that batted England out of the match.
England reduced to 49/3 at tea
Trailing by 231 runs, England didn't help their cause at all, when Bhuvneshwar Kumar trapped Jennings LBW for a golden duck in the very first over. Cook and Root showed some resistance but Jadeja's accurate bowling sent the England captain back to the hut. Thereafter, a tired Ali — he bowled 55 overs — fell for a duck leaving his team at 49/3 at tea on Day 4.
The only England player who showed any kind of fight in their second innings was Root as he swept his way out against the Indian spinners. His positive approach to batting frustrated Kohli and Co. India's win looked inevitable, but it was necessary for them to get England's No 3 out as he was looking dangerous. And it was Jayant who provided the important breakthrough. Whatever hopes England had were crushed when Root was dismissed for 77.
PS: Yes, Kohli and Jayant were dropped by the England players. But if we count dropped catches as turning points in this Test, the match could have been over far earlier, considering England's first innings centurion was put down on 0 by Karun at gully.
Updated Date: Dec 13, 2016 09:01:22 IST