Thanks to masterly batting by skipper Virat Kohli and spinning all-rounder Ravichandran Ashwin, India won the Test series against England 3-0 with the final Test starting in Chennai on 16th December.
After the first Test in Rajkot was drawn, India won the next three convincingly; the second at Visakhapatnam by 246 runs, the third in Mohali by eight wickets and the fourth in Mumbai by an innings and 36 runs yesterday.
England started the Mumbai Test promisingly, totalling 400 runs with their opening batsman Keaton Jennings scoring 112 in his Test debut and middle order bats Moeen Ali (50 runs) and Jos Buttler (76) contributing handsomely.
India’s spinners took all ten wickets; Ashwin (6-112) and Ravindra Jadeja (4-109). Their batsmen’s response was as usual – in India whatever England can do, we can do it better. And better they did.
England’s spinners Adil Rashid and Moeen Ali were impressive on a turning track but the Indian batsmen smothered the spin much better than their English counterparts.
So much so that they amassed 631 and led by 231 runs. Opening batsman Murali Vijay (136 with three sixes) and Kohli added 116 for the third wicket.
India lost their seventh wicket for 364, still 36 behind England’s total. And we thought we had a match on our hands as India had to bat on the last day in the second innings.
But Kohli was still there and he added a further 241 runs for the eighth wicket with Jayant Yadav, selected as a spinner and playing only his third Test. Kohli (235) and Jayant batted majestically as if saying, “Where is the spin menace?”
Trailing by 231 runs, England’s reply was weak, losing opener Jennings for a duck.
He became the fourth batsman to score a century and a duck in his Test debut. The others were India’s GR Viswanath (0 and 137 v Australia, 1969), South Africa’s Andrew Hudson (163 and 0 v West Indies, 1992) and Pakistan’s Mohammad Wasim (0 and 109 v New Zealand, 1996).
It seemed England would lose by an innings on day four but Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow batted aggressively and the Test went on the final day.
Disappointingly, they lost the last four wickets for only 13 runs – all to the spin variations by Ashwin – and India was victorious by an innings. Ashwin captured 6-55 to have a match haul of 12-167.
Man of the match Kohli has scored most runs in the series, 640 runs at an astonishing average of 128.00 with two centuries and two fifties. No one else has managed to reach 400 runs in the series.
Despite many heroes, the Mumbai Test belonged to Kohli, aged only 28, who set many milestones:
• Reached his 1000th run in Tests in the calendar year 2016. He has scored 1200 runs in 11 Tests so far in 2016 with three double centuries and a century. He can add to his tally in the final Test against a dispirited England next week.
• Reached his 4000th run in his 5second Test match. So far he has scored 4194 runs at an average of 50.53 with 15 centuries and 14 fifties.
• In the current Test series he has amassed 640 runs at an awesome average of 128.00 with two centuries and two fifties.
• He is only the second Indian to score more than 600 runs in a Test series in India. The other Indian to do so is Sunil Gavaskar; 732 runs (average 91.50, with four centuries and a fifty) against the West Indies in 1978-79. With one Test to go, it is possible that Kohli may break Gavaskar’s series record.
• Kohli is the only Indian to score three double centuries as India’s captain and remarkably all three in 2016; 235 runs in the just concluded Mumbai Test, 211 v. New Zealand at Indore in October and 200 v. West Indies at North Sound in Antigua in July. The four other Indians to make a double century as captains are Nawab of Pataudi (203 not out v. England at Delhi in February 1964), Sunil Gavaskar (205 v. West Indies at Mumbai in December 1978), Sachin Tendulkar (217 v. New Zealand at Ahmedabad in October 1999) and MS Dhoni (224 v. Australia at Chennai in February 2013).
How does Kohli compare as batsman with current batting greats like Australia’s Steven Smith, New Zealand’s Kane Williamson and England’s Alastair Cook and Joe Root in Test annals?
In 52 Tests since June 2011, Kohli has scored 4194 runs (highest score 235) at an average of 50.53 and a strike rate of 54.90, hitting 15 centuries, 14 fifties and 11 sixes.
In 47 Tests from July 2010, Smith has totalled 4311 runs (HS 215) at 57.48 and a SR of 56.78, hitting 15 centuries, 18 fifties and 31 sixes.
In 56 Tests from 2010, Williamson has made 4648 runs (HS 242 not out) at 49.44 and a SR of 49.12 hitting 14 centuries, 24 fifties and nine sixes.
In 139 Tests from 2006, veteran Cook has amassed 10,998 runs (HS 294) at 46.60 and a SR of 47.02, hitting 30 centuries, 53 fifties and 11 sixes.
In 52 Tests from 2012, Root has made 4500 runs (HS 254) at 52.94 and a SR of 54.97, hitting 11 centuries, 26 fifties and 15 sixes.
Thus their stats are almost similar. Smith has the best batting average of 57.48, followed by Root with 52.94, Kohli with 50.53, Williamson with 49.44 and Cook with 46.60.
Pretty close, if you ask me. As captain I think Kohli is the most dynamic among his contemporaries. What do you think Roarers?