The thrilling fourth Test, with all its ebbs and flows, between India and England at Southampton ended on Sunday with the home team clinching an impressive 60-run win. Following this, England has clinched the series and now leads 3-1 with one match to go.
For India, it would be time to go back to the drawing board with a lot of mulling to do. They were in with a chance in the Test at several moments, but couldn't grasp it. Let's look at five reasons why India lost the fourth Test.
Lack of application by the batsmen:
Barring Virat Kohli and the ton scored by Cheteshwar Pujara in the first innings, the batsmen simply didn't show enough application to stay at the wicket. There were no demons in the Southampton pitch.
Yes, it was assisting the seam bowlers but one could survive with patience and application. The likes of Shikhar Dhawan, KL Rahul, Hardik Pandya and Rishabh Pant were really casual in their approach which cost the team dearly. Pandya's dismissal in the first innings and Pant's dismissal in the second were especially careless.
Letting England claw back in the first innings:
England was reeling at 86-6 in the first innings with all their top batsmen back in the hut. The pressure was on the home team. The onus was on the visitors to go for the kill and finish them off. However, like so many times in the past, India let the opposition off the hook. They couldn't sustain the pressure and instead of curbing them under 150, India allowed England to post a competitive 246 with Sam Curran scoring a fine 78. That is where India really lost the game.
The middle-order collapse in the first innings:
The middle-order collapsing like a pack of domino cards has become quite the norm for the Indian Test team. India was perfectly placed at 142-2 in the first innings, looking all set to overhaul England's first innings score. However, another mid-innings collapse led to them being struggling at 195-8. While Pujara did save India the blushes, it wasn't enough. The same happened in the second innings, where India was 123-3 while chasing 245, but collapsed to 184 all out.
Ashwin's poor run:
While England's batting all-rounder Moeen Ali managed to snare 9 wickets in the Southampton Test, India's lead spinner Ravichandran Ashwin returned with figures of 2-40 in the first innings followed by 1-84 in the second. India badly needed a good spell from Ashwin as the pitch, with rough patches on the off, was assisting spin bowlers.
However, Ashwin kept bowling full length or back-of-length that allowed the England batsmen to comfortably maneuver him on the leg and off sides and milk him for runs. It was a disappointing performance and helped the English batsmen get the initiative.
Overdependence on Kohli:
The current Indian Test batting unit suddenly seems to resemble the one from the mid- 90s where Sachin Tendulkar would be the lone ranger in a fragile batting order completely dependent on him.
The current team, despite having batting talent, has failed to give Virat Kohli the able support. In the 4th Test, Kohli did well in both the innings, but barring Pujara's knock in the first innings and Rahane's fifty in the second, the others failed again. The batsmen seem to rely heavily on Kohli bailing them out every single time and are not putting their hands up to take enough responsibility.