After a strong performance by Indian team in 3rd test at Nottingham, nothing less than a win was expected from Indians in 4th test at Southampton, not a drawn test, nor a loss. But some brave show by England’s team lead by Joe Root made it possible for them to win the match and the series with 3-1 lead in 5 test series.
After winning the toss, Root took right decision of batting first at 4th test at Southampton. The decision seems to to backfire when their top order collapsed when Bumrah drew first blood in 3rd over claming Jennings wicket leg before. Followed by Root who perished to Ishant Sharma. The top order was no match for Indians pacers when the scorecard looked miserable 86/6. Though a steady innings by Curran (78) building two partnership with Moeen and Broad gave a satisfactory 246 on board. Indian bowlers couldn’t keep the pressure on lower order to lessen the score of English team.
With 4 over to play, India did good by not losing any wickets in 1st innings but lost both openers at 50/2 at start of 2nd day of the test. It was again a task at hand for Capt Kohli(46)and Pujara(132 n.o) to give India a good score. Rest of the batting line-up couldn’t hold ground against slow spin of offie Moeen Ali who took 5/63. India still managed to squeeze in a lead of 27 runs.
Put into bat for 2nd time in 2 days on a slow turning pitch, Kohli hoped to gain some early wickets by introducing Ashwin to open bowling, but Cook and Jennings ended the day 2 without losing any wickets. Jennings played some. good shots to score 36 runs only to be plum before wickets by shami before umpires called for lunch. The very next ball after lunch, Shami bowled Bairstow for a duck. At 92/4 with lead of 65 runs, England looked at another low score if it wasn’t for Stokes(30), Buttler(69) and Curran (46) to take score to respectable 271, giving a healthy target of 243 on a powdery pitch with almost 2 days for India to score down the target and level the series.
KL Rahul was the first casualty for India when Board got him bowled in 4th over. Centurion Pujara and Dhawan also went down and in came Captain and Vice Captain to steady and buildup innings, And thats exactly what they did. Scoring century partnership and it was time for Moeen Ali to spin his 1st innings web again. Moeen finished with 4/26 and India finished with another loss on English soil by 60 runs.
On papers: India looks much better and superior to England’s team in paper in all departments, but English team played collectively while Indians couldn’t capitalize on their starts. While Moeen bowled slow offies nd let pitch do d rest, Ashwin tried too many variations with much faster spin but well planned Moeen came back successfully to clinch 9 wickets and win Man of the Match, Ashwin just had to be content with 3 wickets. While Curran and Stokes came handy with bat and ball, same can’t be said for ashwin and Pandya.
Last but not the least: Next test of the series is at home of cricket, Lords starting this Friday, 7th September 2018. Though England has won the series, Indians will be aiming to win last game to return home with mixed results. Lords pitch will be abit dustier due to English summer, so its going to be another might of spinners. England will be considering playing Adil Rashid along with Moeen Ali while India will show trust in Ashwin and include Kuldeep Yadav. For India to win this test, they need to stick to the basic, play to the pitch, put pressure on their opponent and make collective efforts. which was present in 3rd test but was sadly missing from this Test.