England succumbed to the inevitable crushing defeat on day four of the second Test against India, out-spun and outdone on their way to a 317-run loss in Chennai.
The damage had already been done over the course of three chastening days, with England resuming on 53 for three chasing two equally unrealistic options if they were to get out of jail and preserve their 1-0 series lead.
To win they would need to turn their overnight score into a world-record chase of 482 or to draw they would need to bat for six full sessions on a spinning, spitting minefield.
India wrap it up! 👏
— ICC (@ICC) February 16, 2021
In the end, and to no great surprise, they came nowhere close to either outcome and were bowled out for 164.
Debutant Axar Patel finished with five wickets and there was another couple for player-of-the-match Ravichandran Ashwin, who ended the Test with eight to go with his brilliant second-innings century from number eight.
The margin was England’s heaviest defeat by runs in India, a beating that will need to be parked if the tourists are to hit back in the day-night third Test in Ahmedabad.
There was precious little optimism to take from this final day, but captain Joe Root clung on for over a session for 33 and Moeen Ali added some late spark by hammering five sixes in a bruising 18-ball cameo worth 43 before his dismissal ended the match.
A convincing win for India as they level the series.
— England Cricket (@englandcricket) February 16, 2021
Starting three down with two full days stretched out in front of them – at least theoretically – England started calmly.
For 20 minutes Root and Dan Lawrence attempted to get to grips with a pitch that was continuing to offer sharp turn and bounce, after which India captain Virat Kohli called for his man of the moment – Ashwin.
The hometown hero had enjoyed success at almost every turn and it was hardly surprising to see him bring his golden touch to proceedings again.
Lawrence (26) attempted to smother the spin with a premeditated plan to get down the track, but Ashwin flummoxed him by spearing one down leg. The delivery ended up nutmegging the Essex batsman, slipping between his pads and giving Rishabh Pant the chance to complete an impressive stumping.
Ben Stokes’ arrival brought none of the usual fireworks and aggression, with the all-rounder settling for a bloody-minded stay of execution against the twin travails of Ashwin and Patel.
He absorbed 50 often uncomfortable deliveries for eight runs before playing for turn that, for once, did not emerge. An inside edge into the front pad popped up to Kohli and Ashwin had him for the 10th time in Test cricket.
Root’s method stayed true, even providing the light relief of a couple of swept fours, but he could do nothing to help his partners from the non-striker’s end.
Both Ollie Pope and Ben Foakes came to grief trying to replicate Root’s use of the sweep, Pope top-edging Patel to midwicket for 12 and Foakes mis-timing one off the toe to give Kuldeep Yadav a belated first wicket of the match just before lunch.
Yadav should have dismissed Root in his previous over, but when his reverse sweep lobbed up to Mohammed Siraj, the seamer’s handiwork let him down. That proved a minor inconvenience, with Root’s resistance giving way to the fifth ball of the afternoon session.
There was little he could do about it, pressing forward in compact fashion as Patel floated one in from round the wicket only for the ball to kick off the surface and ping the glove. He offered a rueful smile as he left the crease, knowing the end was not far.
Olly Stone followed in short order, lbw stooping in front of the stumps to give Patel his fifth wicket, but Moeen took his chance to have some fun before the end.
He smoked each of his next three balls from Patel for six, swinging for the stands with power and freedom. The all-rounder helped himself to two more maximums and three boundaries before his happy-go-lucky cameo signalled the end of the match. Charging down the track at Yadav, he could not make contact as the bowler tossed it wide and left Pant to do the rest.