An Indian collapse after lunch took them to the brink of defeat before R Ashwin showed up the folly of his team-mates, succeeding in taking the game to a fifth day and winning a tiny moral victory.
A day of three distinct sessions: in the morning England collapsed with almost deliberate precision before India showed signs of getting back into the match. In the afternoon the home side were blown away from ball one, leaving themselves an impossible task to rescue the game. The evening session saw the sides trade blows, with England working hard to complete the formalities of victory before Ashwin’s last stand.
The end result of all that back and forth is that, barring the sort of miracle that this India side don’t deal in, England will complete back to back Test wins in the morning. Whereas in Mumbai England were entirely reliant on their spin twins for victory, here it was much more of a team effort with the wickets shared around. James Anderson was simply superb, particularly in reverse swinging the old ball, while Steve Finn provided the extra cutting edge that was so clearly missing from the seamers in the previous two matches.
The real questions from this match will be around the Indian side. We’ll save trying to answer some of them until tomorrow (as there’s unlikely to be 1,000 words worth of action and we’re already well through the day’s gin supply) but we can certainly reiterate some of the points we’ve made several times before: this Indian side has no fight or heart, a very fragile middle order and is nothing special in terms of bowling. Nobody in Team India seems prepared to admit these facts (or at least not publicly).
It was the first ball after lunch that changed the direction of the game, via a classic offspinner’s dismissal; the ball dragging Sehwag forward and turning sharply through the gate. Suddenly scoring runs became impossible and survival was India’s only ambition, one that they distinctly failed to achieve.
Jimmy’s Anderson’s figures (2/38) might not look special, but this was a truly superb performance. Plus he played a cover drive in the early part of the day that caused more than one bleary-eyed 51allouter to spill their cornflakes all over the place. Sofa companies: send us a new sofa please.
In the end, stumps came at a good time for England. After a frenetic day they looked tired and short of ideas for taking the final wicket. Tomorrow they will be fresh and, armed with a shiny new ball, should be able to conjure up said wicket before knocking off a small total for a famous victory. Or they might stuff it up and get skittled, but if that happens after we’ve got up at 3:30am for the fifth consecutive day the chances of us being able to calm down enough to write about it are pretty slim.