India went into the Mumbai Test at Wankhede stadium as favourites having won the last two Tests of the series rather convincingly. However, things looked a bit dodgy for the Indians after England put up 400 batting first. The Indians themselves found themselves in trouble owning to a middle-order collapse after a bright start. However, not for the first time in the series, the lower order rallied to pull things back for India, and put them on top again. And, once that happened, the pressure was right back on England. With a huge first-innings deficit, they were always going to struggle, and their batsmen did not have the technique to stay put on a turning surface.
If one were to pick a defining point in the game, it would definitely be the partnership between Indian skipper Virat Kohli and upcoming talent Jayant Yadav. When the two joined forces, India were still very much in the deficit, and in serious danger of conceding the crucial first-innings lead. However, Kohli and Jayant brilliantly to not only rescue India, but put them in a position of dominance. It was the first session of the penultimate day that turned the tide India's way. When the day began, the game was evenly balance, with India only having a lead of 51. A couple of quick wickets, and England would have been right back in the game. But, it wasn't to be as the duo batted through the session.
No praise would be too high for the manner in which Kohli and Jayant stood up for the team's cause. There was pressure undoubtedly, for England were on top, having claimed a few quick wickets in succession. The pitch too wasn't the easiest to bat on, as England's batsmen were to find out a little later. Under the circumstances, Kohli played a typical captain's knock. He put his head down, cut down the risk shots, and saw to it that the airy strokes came only once India were in control of the match. As for Jayant, the fact that he became the first Indian to score a hundred batting at number nine itself explains the magnificence of the effort. It wouldn't be wrong to say that be has been the find of the series.
Even as Kohli and Jayant dominated the headlines, Ravichandran Ashwin came up with another stupendous effort. There were times in the match when he did not seem like getting a wicket, and yet ended up with 12. That shows how high-quality a bowler he is when it comes to home conditions. On the final day, he exerted his dominance by picking up four wickets to clean up England. Ravindra Jadeja also had another good game. He was among the wickets again, although not as successful as Ashwin. Jadeja played a crucial cameo with the bat as well. One of the biggest positives for India was the return to form of Murali Vijay, after a couple of extremely poor Tests. His hundred was a classy knock.
As for England, as skipper Alastair Cook admitted, the missed chances cost them. Having put 400 on the board batting first, they should have put India under pressure. They did so, but only briefly. A number of chances went down, and the Indian batsmen made them pay for their blunders. England got another opportunity when they engineered a collapse against a weak middle order. Yet again though, they allowed India to get away. The huge partnership between Jayant and Kohli was the final nail in the coffin, much before the finishing touches were delivered on Monday. England's spinners also paled in comparison to their Indian counterparts. In the end, India had better quality in the Test, as has been the case in the series.
--By A Cricket Analyst