When England took a lead of 215, captain Alastair Cook wouldn't have bothered about the resistance from the India batsmen. His only worry was the weather.England captain Alastair Cook (L) and James Anderson leave the field after England won the fourth Test against India on Day 3 at Old Trafford in Manchester. (Reuters Photo)
Saturday was bright and sunny, but heavy rain was predicted for the last two days of the fourth Test.
Considering things from the other side, India only had to bat through Saturday's afternoon session to be safe. Even after taking into account how they had batted on the first morning, even the most die-hard of home supporters would not have imagined it would be that easy.
To make up for the loss of play on Friday, play for the day was extended till 7.30 pm local time.
By 4.52 pm local time, the India innings lay in tatters. In 15 minutes of mayhem, starting at 4.27 pm, India collapsed from 53 for one to 66 for six, five wickets for 13 runs.
It took England a mere 43 overs to wrap up the India second innings to take a 2-1 lead in the series. All out for 151 in the first innings, India collapsed to 161 in their second essay.
The loss by an innings and 54 runs will be counted amongst India's most humiliating defeats. Not only because of the margin but that it occurred inside three days despite almost half a day being lost to rain.
Such results are regular on unprepared wickets, but the capitulation came on the best wicket of the series.
Embarrassingly, it was not the pacers who wreaked havoc. India were run over by part-time off-spinner Moeen Ali.
In the absence of Stuart Broad, out with injury to the face, the question was who would exert pressure from the other end for James Anderson. The concern was unfounded.
Stuart Broad edges the ball that gets stuck in the grill of his helmet from a Varun Aaron delivery during the third day of the fourth Test at Old Trafford in Manchester. (Reuters Photo)
The India batsmen made Moeen look like Muttiah Muralitharan bowling on an unprepared Galle wicket.
The off-spinner began with three wickets in 16 balls for three runs. His victims included accomplished players of spin, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane and Ravindra Jadeja.
To cap a memorable day, Moeen had MS Dhoni caught at short midwicket for his fourth wicket.
It didn't matter that England were without their top wicket-taker of the first innings. It didn't matter that the wicket had eased out and, of all days, the conditions were the best for batting on Saturday afternoon.
Even Anderson was operating at a much lower energy level. Yet, India were easy meat.
Dhoni hit some lusty blows to take India past the 100-run mark. With his wicket, India's last hope of surviving the day and then praying for rain evaporated.
Moeen had come into the series as a poor man's Graeme Swann. His rich haul in Manchester came at the back of his six-wicket haul in the third Test. This series has proved to be the turning point of his career.
England's Moeen Ali (C) celebrates after getting a wicket during the third day of the fourth Test between England and India at Old Trafford in Manchester. (Reuters Photo)
What has hurt India the most in this series has been the form of their two biggest names - Virat Kohli and Pujara. Continuing their miserable run, Virat was out for seven and Pujara on 17.
Experts have been analysing and playing out Virat's technical shortcomings on TV screens. Yet, no one from the coaching staff seems to have noticed.
On Saturday, his dismissal was a repeat of the first morning. His outside edge has taken a battering from Anderson and the star bowler again had him edging to slips. The only difference was this time he was caught wider in the second.
Commentary, India 2nd Innings
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