Only one team in the history of Test cricket had managed to a win a five-match series, despite being 2-0 behind after two Tests. And that was Sir Don Bradman's Australian team, which accomplished this rarest of rare feat against arch-rivals England in 1936/37.
For most part of the fourth Test between England and India at Southampton, it seemed Virat Kohli and his men will come out on the triumphant side, and inch closer towards Bradman's achievement.
Having trailed the series 2-0 after Lord's debacle, India roared back into the reckoning with a convincing win at Trent Bridge. And their hard work looked certain to yield results at Southampton.
In the first four days and two session of cricket action, the visitors were well ahead of the hosts, and by the post-Tea session, only needed 118 more runs to make the series 2-2. It seemed destined that the fifth Test at Oval will be the decider in what has been an action-packed month of 5-day cricket. But, it wasn't to be! Having dominated almost each of the 11 sessions, India exploded in the final session on Day Four, and handed the victory to England.
The crucial day started with England having a lead of 233 runs, and the hosts managed to add 11 more before their final two wickets fell. A target of 245 was set for India, but it was never going to be easy on a track which started to have rough patches, and had huge assistance for spinners,
India's chase got off to the worst possible start, as they lost both their openers, as well as first innings hero Cheteshwar Pujara in no time. Reeling at 22 for 3, skipper Virat Kohli and his lieutenant Ajinkya Rahane arrived at the crease and steadied the ship.
The two took their time, knowing the target isn't huge, and there was more than enough overs to chase it down. The safety-first approach seemed to work, as the duo put up 101 runs for the fifth wicket, and took India closer to another famous win. But on the stroke of Tea, Moeen Ali struck the crucial blow by getting rid of the Indian skipper, who was caught at short leg.
What followed was a dismal batting display, something which would concern the Indian team management and spectators alike. In the final session of Day Four, the wickets tumbled like a pack of cards, as India, who were 127 for 4, were bowled out for 184. Moeen was the destructor-in-chief, as he used the rough to his advantage and wrecked havoc on the Indian batters.
Though, it wasn't just great bowling performance which got England the wickets. During the course of the post-Tea session, the likes of Rishabh Pant and Mohammed Shami played some rash shots, which were not needed at that time.
In all, it was a fighting display from Kohli and co, as they ran neck to neck with England for much of the fourth Test. But a concerning sign for India will be their batting, which has been heavily dependent on Kohli. With the series gone, the visitors will look to salvage pride from the final Test at Oval.
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