Indians fail English spin test

Indians fail English spin test

England players celebrate after winning the fourth test Action Images via Reuters/Paul Childs

Skipper Virat Kohli and his deputy Ajinkya Rahane played with great character, discipline and fortitude but it still wasn’t enough to prevent England from the seizing the Pataudi Trophy here on Sunday.

Joining forces with India in deep trouble at 22/3 while chasing a tough target of 245 on a wearing Aegeas Bowl track, Kohli (58, 130b, 4x4) and Rahane (51, 159b, 1x4) raised hopes of a famous series-levelling win with a bloody-minded 101 run partnership. But the skipper’s dismissal just before tea opened the floodgates which England gatecrashed emphatically to register a 60-run win. England thus took an unassailable 3-1 lead with the final Test at The Oval (Sept 7-11) turning inconsequential now.

Like how much of the series has been, the fourth day of the fourth Test too was filled with plenty of thrills — although runs came at a slow pace — before the momentum finally swung England’s way with the dismissal of Kohli to Moeen Ali out of nowhere. The off-spinner, toiling relentlessly on a hot summer’s day, got one to pitch and turn sharply from the rough. Kohli, like he had been doing right throughout an innings of dogged concentration, did the right thing of playing really forward. However, to his dismay the ball turned a lot more, kissing his gloves before ricocheting off the pads to a waiting Alastair Cook at forward short-leg. A visibly gutted Kohli sought a review more in hope than anything and his worst fears were confirmed by third umpire Joel Wilson.

Needing 122 runs with six wickets in hand, India still had some hope with a gutsy Rahane out in the middle and two big-hitters — Hardik Pandya and Rishabh Pant — left in the armoury. The first hope — Pandya — turned out to be nothing but a massive disappointment as he departed without even troubling the scorers.

Pant, out for a 29-ball duck in the first innings, switched back to his attacking game and smacked some thunderous shots right from the onset to raise tension. With the target reduced to double figures and England sensing a real danger, Joe Root immediately pushed most of his fielders to the boundary. Root dared Pant to take on the attack and the left-hander, fighting fire with fire, holed out eventually for a 12-ball 18 cameo.

It all then hinged on Rahane but even he knew it was going to be a herculean climb. The rush of wickets from the other end played onto to his mind, forcing him to commit a rare piece of misjudgment that brought about his downfall and hastened India’s end. Having played Ali brilliantly all day by getting forward to smother the spin and any help he was getting from the rough, Rahane tried to play him off the back-foot. Unluckily he missed and was adjudged LBW. The tail wagged a bit but India were eventually bowled out for 184.

Before the collapse that’s becoming a common occurrence since the South Africa series at the start of the year, Kohli and Rahane gave an exhibition of good old-fashioned Test cricket batsmanship. They played really forward also outside the line of the off-stump consistently to rule out LBW. The relentlessness of Ali and the application and concentration from Kolhi and Rahane were simply classic Test match stuff. In the end though, England found a way to win and India found a way to lose.

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