India took a 2-0 lead in the five-match Test series after easing past England by eight wickets in the third match in Mohali. Even after losing the toss, India took control from the beginning, never letting England settle, with the bowlers and the batsmen performing brilliantly to give the home team the victory.
Here are the talking points from the Mohali Test.
Virat Kohli vs Ben Stokes: Two players who do not hold back on a cricket field – it was inevitable that Kohli and Stokes would clash. After the latter was fined for saying a few choice words following his dismissal in the first innings, Stokes made it a point not to celebrate when he got Kohli out. Kohli answered back with a finger on the lips no-celebration when Stokes was dismissed in the second innings, and the rivalry between the two promises to get spicier as we move into the final two Test matches.
So much for winning the toss: Alastair Cook, after the second Test in Visakhapatnam, kept insisting the main reason behind England's defeat was that India won the toss and got to bat first. Well, Cook had the chance to prove that theory in Mohali, but the batsmen failed. The way to win a Test, or at least make sure you don't lose it, is by scoring big runs in the first innings – be that by batting first or second.
When England posted over 500 in Rajkot, India replied with a big total themselves and the match ended in a draw. When India put up 455 in the first innings, after winning the toss, in Vizag, England answered with a score 200 runs less. That was the difference, rather than India just getting first crack of the pitch with the bat. The same was the case here as well, with England, after winning the toss and batting first, only posting just 283 on a flat-as-they-come wicket. India answered with 417 and that was all she wrote.
Time to get worried about Ajinkya Rahane: The India batsman's fallibility against spin has fallen under the radar a little, because he has always found ways to score runs, particularly in difficult conditions. However, those spin problems have come to the fore in this series, with the dismissal in the third Test painting the perfect picture. Rahane did not pick the googly from Adil Rashid, played down the wrong line and was a dead duck, trapped in front. It is a little early for those worry lines to become permanent, but there is a lot for Rahane and batting coach Sanjay Bangar to work on in the nets over the next week.
What about Murali Vijay? The great thing about five-match Test series is that a player's weakness gets found out. England have worked out that Vijay is uncomfortable when the ball is dug in – he is usually fairly good with short pitch bowling, but for some reason there have been problems in this series – and the mode of dismissals in this series have been a little too similar. In the second innings, it was all too easy for Chris Woakes to ball the bowl short, outside or on off, knowing Vijay is likely to hang his bat out and find an edge. Again, more work for Bangar.
Haseeb Hameed: What a brilliant young batsman England have found here. While questions will be raised over why Hameed, when he looked so comfortable, did not open the innings, the manner in which the teenager played, with a heavily taped left little finger was something to admire. After blocking, blocking and then blocking some more, Hameed showed he is not just about the defence, by scoring runs at will with only one wicket remaining. The fact that all the Indian players quickly ran up to Hameed after England's second innings ended to congratulate the young man showed just how much respect he has gained from his opponents. Hameed has been ruled out of the rest of the series with the finger injury, and that is a massive blow for England.
Over-reliance on R Ashwin waning: In this series, India have not needed the seven-fors in an innings and the ten-fors in a match from Ashwin. While the off-spinner has been brilliant, picking up crucial wickets, the rest of the bowlers have chipped in nicely as well. Take day four of this Test match – after Ashwin broke England's back by picking up the crucial wickets of Alastair Cook and Ben Stokes on day three – India's main man was not needed on the winning day. Ravindra Jadeja got Joe Root out, Jayant Yadav picked up Jos Buttler and then Mohammed Shami had a wonderful spell of short pitch bowling to dismiss the tenacious Chris Woakes and Adil Rashid. Ashwin remains the most important bowler, but he is not the only one England need to worry about, far from it.
Poor old Karun Nair: Test match debut, first runs come with a nice cover drive for a four and then he is run out owing to poor calling, or the lack thereof, from his captain. Because India were chasing down such a small total, Karun did not get a second innings opportunity, and what a pity it would be if he were to go back to the bench if, as expected, KL Rahul comes back in for the fourth Test in Mumbai. Parthiv Patel, the other change, batted well, but his wicketkeeping wasn't the greatest. Wriddhiman Saha's hasn't been at his best either, but if Rahul comes back, it makes sense to go with Saha down the order again, even if Parthiv batted quite well with scores of 42 and 67 not out.