That’s not untrue after what the England captain did with the bat. But beyond the cold numbers, the spell of magic cast by a 38-year-old Englishman will stay etched in the memories of those who managed to squeeze in time from their WFH schedules and catch up on the cricket on a busy Tuesday afternoon.
Chasing 420, Shubman Gill and Virat Kohli had settled in well after losing Cheteshwar Pujara early when Root threw the ball to James Anderson. The ball had started getting old and the discussion was whether it was a little too late to give the veteran his first spell. It didn’t take Anderson more than two balls to dispel all doubts.
With brilliant use of reverse swing after pitching the ball back of the length, he sent Gill’s (50) off-stump cartwheeling. Two balls later, the ever-reliable Ajinkya Rahane was caught plumb in front by the same delivery, but the appeal was turned down by the umpire for reasons better known to him (impact umpire’s call and all those technical nitty-gritties came into play after DRS).
But we were not done yet. Anderson bowled virtually the same delivery – initially looking to shape away and then cutting back after pitching – for the third time to gate-crash Rahane’s defence and disturb the stumps. It was almost a case of insult for Rahane to be dismissed twice in two balls, leaving India in tatters.
There was still a spunky Rishabh Pant in play. Anderson toyed with him with his swing for the next couple of overs and then induced an edge that safely went into the hands of short mid-off. Game, all but over, as Anderson’s spell read 7-4-8-3 – comfortably one of the finest by an overseas bowler in India in the post Wasim Akram era.
There were still five wickets to take and Kohli (72) in the middle, but the die had been cast. The ball was turning and the Indian captain was losing partners at the other end. But the class of Kohli was once again in full display over the next one and a half hours, as India slowly sunk towards the 227-run defeat.
01:211st Test: England thrash India by 227 runs
It seemed as if Kohli was playing on a different surface compared to the others – a thing we used to experience with Sachin Tendulkar in his prime. Kohli’s balance, his understanding of where the off-stump is, ability to use the feet against spinners and make difficult shots look easy were on full display. It had to be a delivery that kept significantly low from Ben Stokes to remove Kohli.
The build-up to the final day had also been about spinners and left-armer Jack Leach (4-76) too did his job hitting the right areas and letting the pitch do the rest. The defeat leaves India with a few headaches, not least the fitness status of Ashwin, who took a few blows while batting.