Another Test series away from Asia, and another series loss for India.
Having been set 245 to win the 4th Test and go into the final Test with the series squared at 2-2, India faltered and collapsed to a 60 run loss.
Once again, all of India’s hopes were on the shoulders of captain, Virat Kohli. He was in a wonderful fighting partnership with Ajinkya Rahane. The two of them withstood the pressure exerted from England’s bowling attack, who were on a high after Jimmy Anderson and Stuart Broad had India reeling on 23-3 in 9 overs. India’s openers, Shikhar Dhawan (17), KL Rahul (0) and first innings hero, Pujara (5) were all back in the pavilion.
KL Rahul has been opening since the 2nd Test at Lords, and has not returned very encouraging figures for a Test opener, his average since opening in this series is 16. Not good enough. His opening partner, Shikhar Dhawan, averages a slightly more respectable 26 in his 6 innings of this series, but again, not good enough.
The job of the openers is to take the shine off the new ball, to make sure the middle order have a foundation to build on. Too often though, it has been left to the middle order of Pujara, Rahane and Kohli to steady the ship and then build an innings.
Rahane and Kohli put on 101 runs that gave India fans the hope that they could in fact pull this chase off. Some might say that Kohli was given a life when on 9, England reviewed a not out LBW decision. Ultra edge suggested that there was an inside edge, replays showed no daylight between bat and ball, therefore 3rd umpire, Joel Wilson had no choice but to stick with the not out decision, because there was not enough conclusive evidence to overturn the decision.
Reading some of the comments on social media afterwards made me sad, people questioning the credentials of Joel Wilson, saying he shouldn’t be anywhere near an umpires chair. What exactly did he do wrong? He followed the rules.
Kohli survived and brought up his 500th run of the series on his way to his 19th Test half century. He has been the rock of this Indian batting line up and once he was out, India’s chances were all but gone.
Rahane battled brilliantly, as he brought up his 14th Test half century but wickets kept falling at the other end. India lost their last 6 wickets for 61 runs. Not good enough.
Moeen Ali took 4 more wickets in the 2nd innings, used the rough well, better than Ravi Ashwin, and was a real threat. It’s about time Ali is considered a genuine all-rounder. He finished with match figures of 9-134 and 40 valuable lower-order runs in the 1st innings, making him the deserved Player of the Match.
England won the Test by 60 runs and have taken an unassailable 3-1 lead in the series with only one Test left to play.
The final Test, which is now a dead-rubber, begins on Friday 7th September, at the Oval in London.