England stormed to a resounding victory over India inside three days at Old Trafford to take a 2-1 lead in the Test series with one match to play.The hosts took nine wickets in an extraordinary session after tea to bowl India out for 161 and win the fourth Test by an innings and 54 runs.
For the second match in a row, spinner Moeen Ali was instrumental in the final push, taking 4-39 as England made light of the absence of the injured Stuart Broad, whose nose was broken by a Varun Aaron bouncer at the end of England’s first innings.
James Anderson claimed 2-18 and Chris Jordan took the final two wickets in two balls to the delight of a full house at a sun-drenched ground.
The hosts had earlier posted 367 all out, with Joe Root’s 77 and Jos Buttler’s 70 giving them a lead of 215 runs, with 61 overs left in the day to bowl out India before Sunday’s predicted downpours.
India in England 2014
|1st Test||Trent Bridge||Drawn|
|2nd Test||Lord’s||India won by 95 runs|
|3rd Test||Southampton||England won by 266 runs|
|4th Test||Old Trafford||England won by an innings and 54 runs|
|5th Test||The Oval||–|
In the end they needed only 43, completing an extraordinary turnaround by a team that was heavily beaten in the second Test at Lord’s to extend their winless run to 10 Tests.
Even more remarkable is the transformation of Moeen, who took only 10 wickets at an average of 45 in his first four Tests this summer, but now has 12 victims at 14 in his last two.
England will hope to carry their winning momentum into the final Test at The Oval, starting on Friday, where only an India victory can deny them the series.
Chris Woakes, taking the new ball in Broad’s absence, got the breakthrough for England with a delivery that nipped back slightly and rapped Murali Vijay’s pads in front of leg stump.
But the real havoc was wrought after tea in a breathless period in which five wickets fell for 13 runs in 29 balls.
Gautam Gambhir nicked Anderson down the leg side for 18 and, from the first ball of the next over, Cheteshwar Pujara was given out lbw to Moeen, although TV replays – unavailable to umpires in this series with India refusing to use the Decision Review System – suggested the ball was missing leg stump.
Ajinkya Rahane was superbly caught by Moeen off his own bowling and Anderson continued his hold over Virat Kohli by having the India batsman taken at second slip by Ian Bell.
In the 30 balls he has faced from Anderson in the series, Kohli has scored seven runs and been out four times.
Ravindra Jadeja was out for four in Moeen’s next over as he pushed forward and edged to Jordan at slip, Mahendra Dhoni’s counter-attacking 27 was ended when he dragged Moeen to Gary Ballance at mid-wicket and Bhuvneshwar Kumar was run out attempting a suicidal second run.
Roaring in from the Brian Statham End with the crowd cheering him on, Jordan then had Varun Aaron caught behind off a short ball and Pankaj Singh bowled off his toes before wheeling away in celebration with his jubilant team-mates in pursuit.
Pankaj had earlier ended his wait for a maiden Test wicket in his 70th over, but only after England had pushed their lead beyond 150 runs.
As the heavy rain that prevented any play after 14:15 BST on Friday gave way to bright sunshine, Root and Buttler played positively in a partnership of 134.
Buttler mixed good fortune – he was dropped by Kohli in the gully on 34 and badly missed by Dhoni when he should have been run out for 44 – with fine strokeplay to record successive fifties in his first two Test innings.
Root was more cautious as he reached fifty off 103 balls, only to be denied a third Test century of the summer by Pankaj’s unlikely intervention.
The Yorkshire batsman could not resist dabbling at a ball down the leg side and walked away cursing himself after the delivery flicked his gloves and was taken by Dhoni.
Having waited 69.2 overs to take his first Test wicket, Pankaj only had to wait two more for his next. Buttler, driving on the up, spooned a slower ball straight to Pujara at mid-off.
The runs continued to flow as Woakes cracked a fluent unbeaten 26 and Broad – the man of the match following his destructive bowling in the first innings – twice cleared the ropes before trying to repeat the shot and top-edging the ball between his helmet and his grille.
He received treatment to his gaping nose wound on the field and was later taken to hospital for X-rays, where the break was confirmed.
But by then, England were well on the way to a comprehensive Test win.