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A day of knife twisting by India was led by Ravichandran Ashwin with blade in hand as he scored a century on his home ground to raise that rarest of sounds – a delirious crowd cheering.
They screamed with delight as Ashwin raced through the 90s and brought up his fifth Test hundred to rub English noses in the black soil.
With England 53 for three and Virat Kohli on the prowl, it is only a matter of time before the series is level after India made 286, a 481 run cushion.
It is going to be tough even to restore some pride. Kohli is pumped and, as they say in Australia, ‘pushing the line’ after haranguing the umpires on day three over decisions. He was told off by umpire Nitin Menon for running down the pitch while batting and the pair clashed when Joe Root was given not out on one to a tight lbw.
Root was judged to have been hit outside the line of off stump by Nitin when he missed playing back to the excellent Axar Patel in a frantic last few overs of the day. Kohli remonstrated when he saw the replay but this game is in the bag, there is no need to pick fights now.
It was not a very good decision, the latest in some poor calls, but Kohli went too far; the top dog back and snarling but not setting the right example by berating umpires.
Ashwin added the wicket of Rory Burns, caught at slip for 25 to cap his day, while Patel removed Dom Sibley lbw and nightwatchman Jack Leach first ball as once again England fell apart on this pitch.
Ashwin added 96 with Kohli coming in at 106 for six when batting was tricky but the pair toughed it out and showed England how to make runs in difficult conditions. England dropped Ashwin twice, and missed a sharp stumping, but he defended well, picked off bad balls and batted a nice tempo throughout, cashing in on a situation when the pressure was off, the soft ball softened and batting became slightly easier.
Kohli’s innings was superb. He was faced with the toughest conditions with prodigious turn and bounce when the ball was new. He spent 19 balls on a pair, and was dropped on two when a diving Burns at extra cover managed to get a hand on a low catch.
Once he worked his way through the difficult early stages of an innings on this pitch, the old footwork came back and he showed what a fine player of spin bowling he is making 62 in 200 minutes.
Moeen Ali bowled better, taking four-for-98 for eight in the game and improved the more he bowled and Leach finished with four-for-100. But England’s spinners have bowled 45 full tosses in two Tests to India’s 11, giving an idea of their lack of control. The two off spinners have contributed 37 full tosses between them in the one game they have played each (Moeen 18, Dom Bess 19), by perhaps trying to bowl quicker and because neither has a grooved action.
Moeen and Leach are lucky to have Ben Foakes as their wing man. Foakes pulled off two brilliant stumpings in the innings, and three in the match, underscoring why it is so important to pick your most skilful keeper in Asia. He missed a sharp stumping off Ashwin on 70 off Moeen, although the ball took a slight deflection off the bat.
Foakes stood up to Broad forcing batsmen to stay in the crease, allowing the bowler to hit the powdery patch on a length that has caused so many problems. It comes with risk and the shorter reaction time saw Foakes glove an edge off Ashwin but he made half chances that would have been beyond others and his three stumpings were the first in one Test by an England keeper since the great Alan Knott in 1968.
Ashwin’s century at No 8 will be used as an opportunity to excuse the pitch but this surface was underprepared and designed to suit India’s strengths. That is to be expected when a home team is 1-0 down. India have exploited their advantage and used the conditions better. England cannot harbour a grievance.
India lost three for 11 in the morning. Cheteshwar Pujara was unlucky to be run out, his bat sticking in the pitch, while Rohit Sharma was stumped by Foakes off balance. Rishabh Pant was promoted with an eye on taking on Leach, but was out to another smart stumping. Pant threw everything at Leach who tempted him out his crease by tossing the ball up.
Ajinkya Rahane’s thick edge was caught by Ollie Pope at short leg and England were on a roll when Moeen had Patel with a straight ball.
After lunch the innings turned. Broad bowled leg cutters with Foakes standing up and at one stage Olly Stone went around the wicket to bang the ball in at Kohli to try and stop the scoring.
Ben Stokes missed a catch off Ashwin on 28 and the lead stretched beyond 350. Kohli was ticked off by the umpire for running down the pitch and may have regretted his reaction when later on Menon gave him out lbw playing back to Moeen. It was close, just hitting the top of middle.
Ashwin was on 77 when last man Mohammad Siraj came in. Siraj did his bit blocking determinedly and Ashwin was not going to hang around. He went to 97 with the shot of the innings, a six off Moeen carted over midwicket, and to 99 with a push into the off side. The hundred came off a thick edge to third man and the pair hammered 47 in final flourish.
Ian Botham took five wickets in an innings and scored a hundred in the same Test five times, and is now the only player to have done it on more occasions than Ashwin, a champion cricketer having a decisive say in this series.