R Ashwin showed his batting chops, but try as he might, he just cannot get anything out of this Rajkot pitch with the ball, which means England remain in control of the first Test match after day four. When Virat Kohli got out in a strange manner and Ajinkya Rahane failed to trouble the scorers too much, it looked like India would fold quickly to give England a big first innings lead. However, Ashwin and Wriddhiman Saha got together to put on a vital partnership, Ashwin playing one of his better Test match knocks, as India ended their first innings 49 runs short of England's in the opening Test in Rajkot on Saturday.
However, that 49-run lead would go up well past the 100-run mark as Alastair Cook and Haseeb Hameed batted serenely to stumps to put England in command.
Earlier, Kohli and Rahane would have envisaged putting on a big partnership on day four morning, considering the two are the last recognised proper batting pair. Rahane (13, 30b, 1x4), though, fell to the spin of Zafar Ansari and when Kohli (40, 95b, 5x4) was dismissed by Adil Rashid hit wicket, India were in a spot of bother at 361 for six, still trailing England by 176.
But then Saha (35, 82b, 2x4, 1x6) and Ashwin (70, 139b, 7x4) came together to put on a 64-run partnership, which helped India to 488 in their first innings.
England came in to bat with still 37 overs of play remaining and Cook (46, 107b, 3x4) and Hameed (62, 116b, 5x4, 1x6) took one result completely out of the equation – a sensational India win.
The pitch, despite four days of play on it, is still far from misbehaving. There is a bit of spin, plenty of bounce, but the fact that it is so slow, means the batsmen can still negotiate whatever problems the bowlers might pose fairly well.
Ashwin tried, so did Ravindra Jadeja and Amit Mishra bowled much better, but Hameed, with his family cheering him on again, and Cook were unmoved. Hameed, in particular, was quite brilliant, belying his 19 years, to ease to his first ever Test match half-century.
England finished day four on 114 for no loss in 37 overs, an overall lead of 163, and now, while the draw is the most likely result, it will be interesting to see if England will push for a win tomorrow.
India started the morning off fairly well, with Kohli looking in good touch, hitting the ball off the middle of the bat and Rahane taking his time to find his form on this wicket.
With eight overs of the day bowled and 30 runs scored, things were looking up for India again, after those two wickets right at the end of day three, but then Rahane failed to read a quicker Ansari delivery, got caught in two minds over whether to pull or flick and before he could make his mind up properly, the ball had clipped the bails.
While the wicket of Rahane was a blow, India were still in a decent position as long as Kohli was there, but that did not last for long, with the India captain getting out in bizarre fashion. Off a short ball from the leg-spinner Rashid, Kohli went deep into his crease to play the pull shot, but as he swivelled back, his left foot just nicked leg-stump, taking off the bail.
It took the England players a little while to realise Kohli had hit his wicket and once they appealed the umpires went upstairs, with replays showing clearly the India skipper had knocked over his own stumps.
Ashwin and Saha did not let that strange dismissal bother them, and with both players playing the spinners quite well, they went on to add some precious runs. Saha did get a life when wicketkeeper Jonny Bairstow failed to get his right hand to a genuine outside edge off the bowling of Ben Stokes, but apart from that scare, the pair batted really well.
A little over six overs into the second session, though, the partnership ended, with Saha going for a cut off Moeen Ali only to edge it to Bairstow.
Ravindra Jadeja (12, 26b, 1x6) came in and stuck around for a while, with 24 runs more added with Ashwin, who was untroubled at the other end, batting like a true top order batsman. Jadeja fell to Rashid, to a ball that kicked up from a good length to take the shoulder of his bat and pop up to short leg.
Umesh Yadav came in, slogged one and then fell going for another, before Ashwin upped the pace, quite smartly too, with just the No.11 in Mohammed Shami for company. With the boundaries flowing quickly, Ashwin and Shami (8, 7b), dropped on one by Alastair Cook, put on 29 runs together, before the former fell to Moeen Ali, going for a big six.
Scores: England: First innings: 537 all out in 159.3 overs.
Second innings: 114/0 in 37 overs, overall lead 163 runs.
India: First innings: 488 all out in 162 overs.
Overnight score: 319/4 in 108.3 overs.
Bowling: England: Stuart Broad 29-9-78-1; Chris Woakes 31-6-57-0; Moeen Ali 31-7-85-2; Zafar Ansari 23-1-77-2; Adil Rashid 31-1-114-4; Ben Stokes 17-2-52-1.
India: Mohammed Shami 6-1-12-0; Ravindra Jadeja 10-1-33-0; R Ashwin 10-2-32-0; Umesh Yadav 5-1-13-0; Amit Mishra 6-0-19-0.
Fall of wickets: India: 68/1, Gautam Gambhir (24.1 overs); 277/2, Cheteshwar Pujara (91.1 overs); 318/3, Murali Vijay (108 overs); 319/4, Amit Mishra (108.3 overs); 349/5, Ajinkya Rahane (116.5 overs); 361/6, Virat Kohli (119.3 overs); 425/7, Wriddhiman Saha (144 overs); 449/8, Ravindra Jadeja (153.3 overs); 459/9, Umesh Yadav (155.4 overs); 488/10, R Ashwin (162 overs).