Just as Virat Kohli walked back to the pavilion to round off his abysmal Test and ODI tour, Shikhar Dhawan called out, asking his close friend to wait and see if the slip catch taken by Alastair Cook was clean. Virat, seemingly uninterested, waited a second before returning in haste.
The swiftness summed up the nightmare he’s had, and probably he was glad it was over as he shook his head while walking back. James Anderson, the man booed in previous games by Indian fans, scalped one of India’s biggest stars yet again, leaving him with a lot of worries ahead of the return home.
There may be better times soon, but it is the dent in confidence that will provide the other teams a chance against him. Especially the length Anderson and Co bowled to trouble him. It could begin playing on his mind, as was evident on a flat track where there was no help for seamers. Virat, as he has been doing all summer, edged one to slips.
On a day when India were outplayed after putting up a comprehensive show in the last three games, it was this dismissal that was the most glaring failure. He doesn’t seem to get a hang of it and as experts here have been pointing out, it is probably the mental disintegration that is leading to it.
India faltered on their lengths while bowling, their spinners were countered with better and quick use of feet, and England showed the intent and aggression they lacked in earlier games. In fact, sometimes their aggression went a bit too far like when they promoted Moeen Ali to No. 3, a move that failed.
But the intent was positive and it caught India by surprise as they racked up a 294-run total.
The biggest challenge for India was to get Kohli back into form and assess the bowlers at the death.
None of it materialised.
For the first time in the series, an England batsman managed to score a century and the India spinners were put to test. Joe Root became the first Yorkshireman to score a century at home ground in both the formats.
Faced with this resolve, the spinners, especially Ravindra Jadeja, lost their length later in the innings, allowing the hosts to plunder as many as 143 runs in the last 15 overs.
And once the in-form opener Ajinkya Rahane failed to get a start, the pressure was back on India. Virat began positively but faltered. Dhawan went for one slog sweep too many. After hitting Moeen for a six, he went for a similar shot and was bowled.
It perhaps showed that this team hasn’t yet got a hang of chasing big totals abroad and if put under pressure they can fail.
But for Ravindra Jadeja, whose power-packed knock in the later stages keeps his honorific of ‘Sir’ intact, India couldn’t have even got anywhere near the England total.
A few big hits towards the end of the innings by Jadeja showed that India could have made it a clean sweep if the top-order had clicked like it had done in the earlier games.
Commentary, India Innings
Commentary, England Innings