Skipper Virat Kohli’s masterstroke of claiming the second new ball at the fag end of the match made the difference when all pointers indicated a draw as the most probable result. The move pushed England to its worst defeat and India to a spectacular innings and 75 runs victory in the fifth and final Test on Tuesday.
Kohli could have stuck with Ravichandran Ashwin who just the previous over had derived prodigious turn with the old ball. He was asking questions to which the England batsmen had no answers. But Kohli made a decisive move to change tack and how sensationally it paid off.
Perhaps the batsmen’s guard was lowered. We’ll never know. Ashwin had given them a harrowing time in the previous over, getting the ball to drift, jump and turn off the rough. They probably would have heaved a sigh of relief at seeing the new cherry being deployed instead.
Adil Rashid who had gamely hung around for five overs with Jos Butler, immediately went to play paceman Umesh Yadav to the leg, got a leading edge and perished.
This gave the home team just the toe-hold they were looking for. After one more over from Ashwin, skipper Kohli tossed the hard, shiny ball to Ravindra Jadeja. The left arm spinner obliged his skipper by getting the ball to jump on one occasion and skid through on another to account for the last two wickets and script the most improbable victory.
The facts speak for themselves. Over the first four days, just 17 wickets had fallen on a pitch that was flat and hostile to bowlers. Thus logically England should not have lost all 10 wickets on a single day on such a featherbed of a pitch.
Indeed when they adjourned for lunch at 97 for no loss, a draw was the most probable outcome. This feeling was reinforced when between lunch and tea India could bowl only a mere 27 overs; hardly an ideal overrate while pushing for a win.
But what England found out, not just in this Test but right through the series was a ruthless, relentless Indian team hunting them down at every opportunity. In short they simply had no opportunity to relax or place to hide.
In this connection, mention must be made of the spectacular catch taken by Jadeja just before tea. Much has been written about the sensational catch that Kapil Dev took of Viv Richards that turned the course of the 1983 World Cup final which India won. Today, at Chepauk, Jadeja’s catch to dismiss Jonny Bairstow was not any less breathtaking.
He saw the ball sailing over his head, ran like the hare and with outstretched hands pulled off one of the most remarkable athletic catches one could hope to see. A couple of overs earlier he had got rid of Joe Root and thus was always in the thick of action, whether fielding or bowling.
Indeed it needed a special effort to push for victory on this pitch and the fact that there were so many members in the Indian team striving for it reflects tremendously on their self-belief and confidence.
England confronted by wave after wave of inexorable assaults on their defences, simply collapsed.
Jadeja’s haul of 7 for 48 was as good a spell of sustained, aggressive spin bowling you could expect to see on a benign pitch. There was also some superb catching by KL Rahul, Ashwin and Karun Nair that lifted the team.
Ashwin might not have got any wicket in the second essay but he contributed by exerting pressure on the batsmen at all times. This was very important for it ensured that there was no let up for the visitors right through the afternoon session.
They enjoyed two good partnerships, 103 runs for the first wicket between skipper Alastair Cook (49) and Keaton Jennings (53) and 63 runs for the fifth wicket in those challenging overs before tea and immediately after between Moeen Ali (44) and Ben Stokes (23). But India simply could not be stopped.
Kohli was named man of the series (655 runs @ 109.16; 1 ton, 1 double ton) not just for the runs but also for his bold leadership. But for his aggressive 5-bowler theory India would never have been able to destroy England 4-0 in the series.
Karun Nair (303 n.o.) was man of the match while the spinners Ashwin (28 wickets) and Jadeja (26) showed how much they reveled in their bowling partnership at home.
Updated Date: Dec 20, 2016 19:31:33 IST