England hadn’t even been able to call on the services of Stuart Broad, who had gone to hospital after a short ball from Varun Aaron slipped through the helmet visor via the top edge and broke his nose. Broad had taken 6 for 25 in the first innings, and Anderson – England’s other bowling talisman – was restricted to just nine overs in the second innings as he was suffering from fever and sickness. Not that it mattered as India slid from the relative solidity of 53 for 1 to 66 for 6 in the space of 28 balls. After that, it was mainly a question of whether the game would go into a fourth day. It didn’t, as India’s batting over the two innings accounted for just 89.4 overs.
The rot started with the recalled Gautam Gambhir, who played a nothing shot to one of the more innocuous leg-side bouncers that Anderson bowled. It brushed the underside of the glove on the way through to Jos Buttler. Cheteshwar Pujara was next, the victim of a questionable decision from Rod Tucker as he came forward to smother a Moeen delivery. Pujara has now aggregated 215 runs in eight innings in the series.
For Virat Kohli, the series tally is 108. Here, he played one superb pull for four off Anderson, but was once again victim to the away-going delivery. The edge to Ian Bell at second slip felt almost routine. In between those two dismissals, Ajinkya Rahane had been deceived in flight and a half-hearted sort of chip went straight back to Moeen.
Ravindra Jadeja, evidently a better batsman in the team management’s eyes than Ashwin – who has two Test hundreds – charged Anderson and thumped him for four through midwicket, showing little indication that he was aware of a game needing to be saved. Moeen accounted for him as well, with a tentative defensive push well taken by Jordan at slip.
With the fielders closing in, Dhoni came in and flayed some boundaries, but Moeen was again the beneficiary of an attempt to hit him off his line and length. Dhoni’s charge and loft was brilliantly caught by Gary Ballance at midwicket.
Even as wickets fell like pins in a bowling alley, Ashwin played both pace and spin with assurance, smashing Moeen for a six and finding the gaps with the sort of fluency that has eluded most of the top-order batsmen on this tour.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar was needlessly run out going for a second run though and Jordan needed just two balls to finish things off, as Aaron gloved one behind and Pankaj Singh played all over a full one.
England’s batsmen had shown far greater application in forging a 215-run lead, with Joe Root and Jos Buttler adding 134 in 40 overs. The nine overs before the new ball was taken had produced just 11 runs, but the new cherry went for plenty. Buttler set the tone with two sparkling square drives off Bhuvneshwar and there was no consistency from Aaron and Pankaj as the four-balls were served up with regularity.
India’s fielding continued to let them down as well. Buttler was dropped when on 34 – Kohli missing a chance to his left at gully – and Dhoni then missed a run-out chance when he had 43, fumbling the throw from Aaron. Pretty much the only smiles of the morning came courtesy Pankaj, who finally ended his wicket drought.
Root, who had batted 161 balls for his 77, gloved one down the leg side, and there was further joy for Pankaj when Buttler, whose 70 took 130 balls, scooped a slow off-cutter to mid-off. Broad came out after lunch and pulled Aaron for two sixes, before the attempt to make it three in a row resulted in a ghastly injury and blood on the pitch. At the end of the day though, it was India with the metaphorical bloodied nose. Down and out. Knocked out cold.