The epic 241-run eighth-wicket partnership was the proverbial last straw on the camel’s back. The partnership, characterised by determination, conviction and fluency, conclusively shattered the spirit of the English team.
However, late in the day, Joe Root — Virat Kohli’s rival for the tag of best batsman in the world — tried to help the visitors slowly lift themselves off the floor, but without much success.
Till the pair of skipper Kohli and newcomer Jayant Yadav got stuck into the bowling, and was well on its way into the fight back, the fate of the Mumbai Test hung on a razor’s edge. Indeed, the first three days' tussle was an intense battle of nerves. Neither side seemed to be yielding an inch till Kohli took it on himself to destroy the Englishmen’s spirit. In this he found an able ally in Yadav, who surely must be the find of the series.
Their partnership was all about soaking up the pressure, revelling in each other’s company and pushing back the opposition bit by bit till their resistance collapsed. This Kohli and Yadav did splendidly, and it made all the difference to the fortunes of the team.
On his debut in Visakhapatnam, young Haryana all-rounder Yadav had already given strong evidence that he had the temperament to battle it out at the highest level of the game. The vindication of that came over the past two days when under tense circumstances he stood out as someone actually enjoying the fight.
That Kohli was scripting one of his finest Test innings probably helped Yadav to steel himself to the intense scrutiny he was being subjected to on Saturday. He not only passed that test with flying colours, but so gained in confidence that he was able to step on the gas this morning.
Not surprisingly, the English attack was a pale shadow of the tormenting one from the previous evening. The bowlers were simply not there in the fight, and leaked runs incessantly.
Kohli and Yadav took advantage of the situation to turn the screws in no uncertain manner. Kohli helped himself to his highest Test score while Yadav, playing only the third Test of his career, slammed a memorable first century.
Compared to Saturday’s harrowing progress where they had to fight tooth and nail to gain a toe-hold, Sunday was a walk in the park for these two. Perhaps their decision to take the battle to the rival camp confused the England bowlers. They offered width and variation in length, which Kohli and Yadav gleefully flogged to their heart’s content.
Although Kohli and Yadav added 154 runs on Sunday to their partnership, it was the 87 runs they forged together in the most trying circumstances last evening that defined the course of the match. Those runs seemed to have sapped the rivals’ strength and focus, and they simply fell away on the penultimate day of the Test.
Beyond a point it was akin to flogging a dead horse. India’s total of 631 put the team ahead by 231 runs in the first innings. On a deteriorating pitch like the one at Wankhede, that was an insurmountable one.
Additionally, in their trio of spinners, Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja and Jayant, India had the better set of spinners and it came as no surprise that they had the visitors on the run almost instantly.
Openers Keaton Jennings and Alastair Cook and Moeen Ali fell cheaply before Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow stirred themselves to salvage England’s pride and reputation.
Root batted beautifully in his short innings of 77 (112balls, 11 fours). He showed great skill in handling the spinners and with Bairstow (50 batting; 95 balls, two fours) put on 92 runs for the fourth wicket.
But the partnership only delayed the inevitable. Root was trapped in front by Yadav, while Ashwin got into the act with two wickets to have England reeling at 182 for six at stumps. Surely it is all over bar the shouting for the England team.
The lasting images of the day however would be that of Kohli’s majestic 235 (340 balls, 25 fours, 1 six) and Yadav’s pugnacious 104 (204 balls, 15 fours). Their batting, along side Murali Vijay's century had literally turned the tables on an ambitious England.
Updated Date: Dec 11, 2016 17:56:05 IST