England pushed into a corner

Virat Kohli and Jayant Yadav surpassed themselves in balmy conditions on Sunday, entertained the biggest attendance in four days and laid the platform for an Indian victory in the fourth Test match against England at the Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai.

The Indians are indeed happy. They have sent back half a dozen Englishmen in the second innings.   -  K. R. DEEPAK

Virat Kohli... Mr. Majestic.   -  PTI

>Virat Kohli and >Jayant Yadav surpassed themselves in balmy conditions on Sunday, entertained the biggest attendance in four days and laid the platform for an Indian victory in the fourth Test match against England at the Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai. Coming together at the fall of Ravindra Jadeja immediately after tea on Saturday, the two went on to amass 241 runs for the eighth wicket in almost even time to place India in a commanding position. Benefiting from a dropped catch — the ball bounced out of the left palm of Joe Root — soon after Jimmy Anderson was given the second new ball on Saturday, Yadav initially played the role of a cautious customer before stamping his authority on the England spinners and the seamers, who operated in short spells.

Kohli sparkled on his way to a third double century and finished at 235, the highest by an Indian captain, and Yadav cut loose to notch his first century in only his third Test. Yadav was stumped and a hard-pressed England eventually saw Kohli lift a drive to deep cover. Soon, India’s first innings came to a close some three quarters of an hour after lunch with a sizeable lead of 231 runs.

When England began its second innings, >Bhuvneshwar Kumar struck off the second ball, trapping the South African-born left-hander and the century-maker in the first innings, debutant Keaton Jennings, plumb in front. The England captain >Alastair Cook was not in any way convinced that a DRS challenge would work and Jennings departed from the scene. Cook challenged his own leg before dismissal that Bruce Oxenford upheld, but Jadeja got his man and his 100th Test wicket. >Moeen Ali was superbly held by Murali Vijay in the leg trap.

The expulsion of the left handers from the scene by the 25th over brought together two right-handers in Joe Root and >Jonathan Bairstow. They used their feet to take the flight of the dipping ball on the full and employed the sweep against both Ravichandran Ashwin and Jadeja. Their free-spirited batting resulted in a flurry of shots and the rousing partnership produced 92 runs in 72 minutes before Jayant Yadav won a leg before decision from Marais Erasmus with Root shuffling back. Kohli had earlier dropped Bairstow when the right-hander reverse hit and soon India exhausted its first set of DRS challenges, one each of Ashwin and Jayant Yadav. England finished the fourth day 49 runs behind. Bairstow (50 not out) is still there and he will start the fifth day with >Jos Buttler. But the writing is on the wall; India will travel to Chennai 3-0.

Clearly, the partnership between Kohli and Yadav has dictated the course of the match on a track that has afforded much help to the Indian spinners. Those who have followed Kohli’s career rise since he was an Indian under-19 star may not be surprised at all by his quick transition into the big league of Test match cricket and create an exalted space for himself among the top-notch performers in a short span of a little over five years. Captaincy cares don’t appear to have affected him even a little bit and the consistency he has demonstrated with the bat has only given the impression that he has taken his batting to a level where opponents find him a big thorn in the flesh.

On Saturday he focused long and hard in order to stabilise his team and thereafter carried it ahead of England’s total. He reached his 15th century and even crossed a handful of milestones. His remarkable appetite for runs has been the high watermark of India dominating the series and when he proceeded to post his third double century in a calendar year, only Michael Clarke's four stands ahead of him. The likes of Don Bradman, Ricky Ponting and Brendon McCullum too have three.

More significantly, his individual brilliance for in excess of eight hours and Yadav giving a new dimension to the lower-order turned out to be a real pain for the visitor, which was made to wait for four hours to break their eighth-wicket partnership. In all India batted for 12 hours and 19 minutes. Yadav became the first Indian and the 15th batsman overall to score a century at No. 9; South Africa’s Shaun Pollock has done it twice. Ali and Adil Rashid together bowled nearly 109 overs, but looked a far cry from the kind of threat posed by Ashwin, Jadeja and Jayant Yadav.