Having taken out Stuart Broad with a short delivery in the first innings of England's batting day out, India had done themselves a lot of good. After all, Broad was their arch nemesis in the first innings, picking up six wickets in double quick time to bowl them out for a mere 152.
Without their premier bowler, surely, surely India would be in with a good chance of putting up a big second innings score. So, the decks were stacked a little more in India's favour as they walked in to bat in their second innings with a deficit of 215 runs and sans Broad, who suffered a facial injury after seeing a short ball sneak through his helmet while batting, to pick up that red cherry, after bowling England out for 367.
India had to make a better fist of it with the bat, especially with England's most effective bowler on these conditions in Manchester – where pace, movement and bounce was like the ultimate cocktail for wickets, wickets and more wickets.
Instead of taking advantage of England being short of their best bowler of the Test match, though, India decided to make Moeen Ali look like a world beating spin bowler again, gifting away wickets like they were Santa Claus who had just met some of the nicest children in the world during Christmas time.
The result of that magnanimous approach was a downright embarrassing defeat to England, by an innings and 54 runs, after seeing their second innings end on a mere 161 all out, making the Southampton Test match look like a nail-biting humdinger which saw the home side just barely get over the line.
"I thought our batting just did not click," said skipper MS Dhoni, roundly booed as he walked in for the presentation ceremony. "In many ways it has been the No. 7, 8, 9, 10 and 11 that have scored the runs for us and that has camouflaged the performance of the top order batsmen and we need to sort out batting out before the next Test."
Those words from Dhoni was as understated as they come. If India continue to bat like this, there is absolutely no way they are going to level this Test series, or come close to winning a series away from home anytime soon. A victory in the series in England is now beyond them, and the final Test match in which they can at least salvage a drawn series with a win at the Oval looks seriously out of their reach as well.
The capitulation began after a decent start from the openers Gautam Gambhir and Murali Vijay, who put on 26 runs in a little under 10 overs, before Chris Woakes, opening the bowling in Broad's absence, snuck the ball through Vijay's defences and got the lbw verdict.
Cheteshwar Pujara, who has looked like a wall made of sand on this tour, and Gambhir, desperate for a score after coming in for Shikhar Dhawan, again gave India hope with another partnership of over 10 overs, before it all came crashing down in a heap.
Gambhir's wicket, caught down the leg side off James Anderson, in the first ball of the 22nd over was like the grim reaper reading out India's last rites.
From there, the away team folded like a house of cards (actually it is an insult to the house of cards to compare it with this capitulation), going from 53 for one to 66 for 6 – the devil's sign ringing out in all its glory there – with MS Dhoni's (27, 22b, 4x4) little cameo and R Ashwin's nice unbeaten 46 (56b, 5x4, 1x6) not enough to stop Ali (13-3-39-4), Anderson (9-4-182) and co. from running through the batsmen to finish the game of inside three days.
A little more gumption with the bat – especially from the likes of Virat Kohli, who was again caught out behind the wicket, and Pujara, two of the team's most disappointing batsmen on this tour – and India might just have sneaked in a draw, what with all the rain forecast for Sunday and Monday.
However, it was to be England and their unstoppable bearded man's day as the home team romped to the most emphatic of wins.