Moeen Ali yet again scalps four including that of India captain Virat Kohli to firmly turn things the host’s way
Virat Kohli’s India may yet turn into the all-conquering, all-weather outfit its captain aspires to construct. But not now. And not like this.
India’s hopes of a series-leveling win were briefly alive at the Ageas Bowl on Sunday. Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane had steadied a desperately listing ship, adding 101 runs for the fourth wicket. But the skipper fell minutes before tea for 58, caught at forward-short-leg off Moeen Ali. And then it all unravelled in predictable fashion. Chasing 245 for victory, India was bowled out for 184 as England claimed a 3-1 series victory on the fourth day.
A run-chase of this magnitude in the fourth innings of a Test match is never a simple affair. But India was let down by its top order again. And when Kohli went, it triggered a collapse of seven for 61, Ali taking four for 71. India will feel it was not very far from glory. But it was still a long way away.
Kohli and Rahane were united at the crease in the ninth over, at a time when all seemed lost for India. India had begun poorly, losing the top three for only 22 on the board, after England had been bowled out for the addition of only 11 to the overnight score. K.L. Rahul was gone without scoring, cleaned up by a creeper from Stuart Broad. The opener has endured a difficult series but there was not a great deal he could have done about this delivery.
Cheteshwar Pujara survived a couple of close appeals for leg-before until he was finally removed by James Anderson, the ball full and angling in, striking him on the thigh. Shikhar Dhawan will be disappointed with the manner of his dismissals in this Test match. In the first innings, he was lured into driving; in the second, he jabbed hard at a ball from Anderson and was caught in the gully.
Kohli could have been out for nine, when an off-break from Ali landed in the rough, turned sharply, and struck him on the pad. Kumar Dharmasena, the umpire, ruled not out and England sought a review. The third umpire, Trinidad and Tobago’s Joel Wilson, was far too hasty in concluding that there had been an inside-edge when it was probable that the spike on ‘Ultra Edge’ was due to bad brushing pad. England’s fielders were clearly annoyed.
Kohli, though, wasn’t. Rahane and he decided their primary goal was survival: they scored at less than two an over for the first two hours of their alliance, either side of lunch. Ali bowled over after over from the Northern End, trying to land the ball in one rough patch outside the right-hander’s off-stump. The odd ball kept low, one occasionally leapt out of the rough. India’s two senior batsmen, though, remained at the crease, steadily growing in confidence. The run-rate improved, and as tea approached, their partnership ticked past a hundred. Seven balls before the interval, though, Kohli pushed forward in defence to one delivery from Ali. It brushed his glove and lobbed up off the pad; Cook, who the ball before had failed to hold on to a tough chance, held on to this one. England rejoiced.
Pandya went without scoring Rishabh Pant fell attempting one big shot too many. And when Rahane was trapped leg-before by Ali for 51, it was as good as over.
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