India had their chances, they even had the first-innings lead, but fell 60 runs short in the end in the fourth Test in Southampton to concede the series to England.
Chasing 245, India had a terrible start, slipping to 22-3. But Virat Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane scored half-centuries to balance the scales somewhat before the Indian captain was dismissed for 58.
It was Moeen Ali’s first wicket of the innings, and he struck three more times to take his tally for the game to nine wickets and bag the Player of the Match award as England went 3-1 up in the five-Test series with one to play.
“England did really well to give us that target, seeing how the pitch was and how the ball was spinning. They applied themselves well and got to a challenging total. I don’t think we did much wrong, but England played better than us,” said Kohli after the game.
Kohli scored 46 in the first innings too, and stitched a 92-run stand with Cheteshwar Pujara, who hit a magnificent 132*, for the third wicket.
“If I had batted longer, the lead could have been bigger,” said Kohli. “But even after (my dismissal), we thought we could get a couple of more partnerships and extend the lead if possible. Eventually Pujara had to play a blinder to get us to a lead of 30-odd.
“That’s the only thing that I feel, could have extended our lead a bit more in this first innings. Apart from that I don’t see too many areas as negatives.”
The second Test at Lord’s was one-way traffic as England won by an innings and 159 runs. The third at Trent Bridge was also one-sided, with India winning by 203 runs. But the first and fourth Tests, both of which India have lost, have been see-saw affairs, England winning by 31 and 60 runs respectively.
“A series is not always defined by the scorecard. You might be 3-0 up in a five-match series, and the opposition manage to win the last two and say it’s a close series, but you know it’s actually not close,” pointed out the Indian captain.
“But when you’re going see-saw in every game – apart from Lord’s – I would not count that, then you understand that it was a competitive and a hard-fought series victory for England.”
Earlier this year, India fought hard but went down 2-1 in South Africa, and the England series has also gone away from them now. Still the No.1 Test team, India have been near unbeatable at home of late, but good performances haven’t always translated to results when on tour.
“I don’t think we need to prove to anyone that we have the ability. Not many teams come close to us at home. But to make the home sides earn victories against us, that’s a huge boost for us,” he said.
“As a group, we need to be more relentless, more expressive and more fearless. Especially at the start of a series. Those things we’ll have to talk about, how you begin well in a series and not have to fight back again and again,” said Kohli.
“We can look at the scoreboard and say we were only 30 runs away or 50 runs away, but we have to recognise that when we are in the midst of the situation, and not later. We know that we have played good cricket, but we cannot say again and again to ourselves that we have competed. When you come so close, there is an art of crossing the line as well, which we will have to learn.”