Innings England 400 and 49 for 3 (Root 30*, Jadeja 2-13) trail India 631 (Kohli 235, Vijay 136, Jayant 104) lead by 182 runs
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Trott: England need to slow the Test down
With his sublime 235 off 340 balls, with 25 fours and a six, Virat Kohli became the first Indian to three double-centuries in a year. As soon as he left the crease and England were in to bat – weighed down by a deficit of 231 – the pitch began to look like a minefield.
Alastair Cook would have hoped to produce something similar to his 122 four years ago. He was the visitors’ best bet at playing time, but it wasn’t going to be easy. India turned to spin in the eighth over and Ravindra Jadeja got the ball to turn square thrice in a row. Close catchers buzzed around the batsman like mosquitoes and puffs of dust erupted even off the undisturbed parts of the surface let alone the rough.
Two overs before tea, Cook went back in an effort to flick a good length ball with the turn through square leg. But Jadeja, by virtue of being a bit quicker through the air, had the England captain hurrying into his shot, losing his shape and out lbw. It was Jadeja’s 100th wicket in his 24th Test; equal fastest to the mark with Ryan Harris and Lance Gibbs and one match slower than Shane Warne. Glenn McGrath and Saqlain Mushtaq.
Moeen Ali came out to bat with four men crowding him. He picked one of them out, extra bounce making his little nudge off the hip carry to M Vijay’s right at leg gully and in the five minutes to tea, England had lost two wickets, not to mention Keaton Jennings’ golden duck. It was a bit cruel all of that happened on the same day they conceded 180 runs at 4.44 runs per over.
India’s overnight lead was 51 and even after 272.1 overs of cricket, the turn and bounce in Mumbai was quick and sharp. They had got seven wickets and if the remaining three had fallen quickly, Cook and his men may have felt they still had a chance. In 34 overs on the fourth morning, there wasn’t a single breakthrough. When India were finally all out after lunch, they had pulled ahead by 231 runs.
The one that the fans cared about most came off the fourth ball of the 165th over. A gentle little flick, all along the ground, to the left of midwicket for Kohli’s 200. Smart phones were out to record the moment. Anil Kumble’s camera didn’t miss it either. A little slice of history to put in the back pocket.
In all of Test cricket, only five men have made three or more double-hundreds in a year. Don Bradman, Ricky Ponting, Michael Clarke, Brendon McCullum and now Kohli, who regaled the Sunday crowd with his signature strokes. A crunching straight drive in the first over of the day converted his fourth successive hundred into a 150-plus score. In the 162nd, he only rolled his wrists on a straight delivery, but it skipped away to the backward square leg boundary. The timing was such that it beat England’s best fielder Ben Stokes, and the placement was such that it was well to the right of the man.
Kohli batted for over eight hours. The concentration it must have taken, the mental and physical strain he must have felt to play an innings of such quality on a difficult pitch was finally on view as he walked off for lunch with a tired smile on his face. In the dressing room, everyone from the support staff to his team-mates patted him on the back. Kohli went past Rahul Dravid’s tally of 602 for the most runs by an Indian in a series against England – and he has one more Test left to improve on his tally. When he came out in the second session, he biffed Chris Woakes back over his head for a six and ran like mad the next ball for a single next ball.
Kohli was the ninth wicket to fall when his lofted drive carried to deep extra cover. Plenty of England players came to congratulate him, including Stokes and Jonny Bairstow. All at the Wankhede stadium were on their feet. No Indian captain has ever made more than his 235. He has amassed 1200 Test runs in 2016 at an average of 80 and a strike-rate of 60.
Jayant began by scything a half-volley from Adil through the covers and then the ensuing short ball was cut behind point. He was more than a match for an inswinging yorker from Jake Ball in the 149th over and the good length delivery that followed was driven to the cover boundary with some style.
Jayant seems to think like a top-order batsman. He spotted mid-on was up with Moeen Ali bowling around the wicket in the 155th over, danced down the track and lofted the ball over the fielder’s head. Alastair Cook put a long-on in for the next ball and the batsman tapped a single to him. Jayant outscored Kohli in the first hour, 42 runs to 36 en route to sweeping records of his own. He had the highest score at No. 9 (211) and was part of the largest eighth-wicket partnership (392) in Indian first-class cricket. Having replaced the man with whom he put on that partnership – Haryana’s Amit Mishra – he now holds the corresponding records for India in Test cricket. Jayant was stumped by Rashid for 104 in the 177th over, looking to lift a ball from around the wicket over cover.
Having allowed the opposition’s eighth wicket to post more than 200 runs for the first time since 1908, England were able to knock India’s No. 10 and 11 quickly enough. Small mercies.
Alagappan Muthu is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo
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Source: ESPN Crickinfo