SOUTHAMPTON (AFP): Moeen Ali bowled England to a series-clinching 60-run win in the fourth Test against India at Southampton on Sunday.
Victory, achieved with more than a day to spare, left England an unassailable 3-1 up in the five-match series against India, the world’s number one ranked Test side, ahead of Friday’s finale at The Oval.
India, set 245 to win, were dismissed for 184 with recalled off-spinner Ali taking four for 71 in 26 overs on a wearing pitch, including the key wicket of star batsman Virat Kohli (58).
That gave Ali a match return of nine for 134 following his first-innings five for 63.
It was another star turn at Hampshire’s headquarters from Ali, who took six for 67 when England beat India by 266 runs in the corresponding Test at Southampton four years ago.
While India captain Kohli and his deputy Ajinkya Rahane (51) were sharing a century stand for the fourth wicket, the tourists had hope of chasing down their stiff target.
But after Ali dismissed both senior batsmen either side of tea, India lost four wickets for 13 runs before Sam Curran, capping another fine all-round display, ended the match by having Ravichandran Ashwin lbw for 25.
After they were dismissed for 271 in their second innings, England made early inroads into India’s top order.
KL Rahul was bowled for a duck by a Stuart Broad delivery that kept cruelly low.
James Anderson, surprisingly, wicketless in an India first innings of 273 that featured Cheteshwar Pujara’s excellent 132 not out, then struck twice.
He had Pujara lbw for just five on Sunday and his next over saw Shikhar Dhawan (17) well caught in the gully by Ben Stokes.
That double strike left paceman Anderson on 559 Test wickets and just four behind retired Australia great Glenn McGrath’s mark of 563, the most taken in Tests by any fast bowler.
India were again looking for another major innings from Kohli, who had already scored two hundreds this series and would pass 500 runs for the campaign during Sunday’s innings.
England thought they had the world’s number-one ranked batsman lbw for nine to Ali.
But after England’s review of an original not out decision from Kumar Dharmasena, third umpire Joel Wilson ruled there had been an inside edge. At lunch, India were 46 for three with Kohli 10 not out and Rahane unbeaten on 13.
Kohli had moved on to 15 when he survived another huge lbw appeal from Ali.
Although he looked out, with the ball striking him low down and in front of the stumps, Dharmasena’s decision was upheld on review because the ball had pitched outside off stump with the batsman playing a shot.
Kohli went to 50 with just a third four in 114 balls when he clipped Anderson off his pads through square leg.
It had seemed as if England had missed a huge chance when Alastair Cook dropped Kohli off Ali at short leg. But the very next ball saw Kohli get a thin glove and this time Cook made no mistake.
Kohli reviewed, but to no avail, before appearing to exchange angry words with Broad.
The scale of India’s task was evident from the fact they had only three times before scored 200 or more in the fourth innings to win a Test match outside of Asia. And for all that England had suffered 203-run thrashing by India at Trent Bridge last week, it was still a decade since they had last lost successive home Tests following back-to-back defeats by South Africa in 2008.
Three balls after tea, Hardik Pandya was well caught for a duck in the slips by England captain Joe Root off Stokes. His exit sparked a cascade of wickets, with Rahane’s painstaking 159-ball effort ending when he was lbw to a sharply turning Ali delivery.
Rishabh Pant drove Ali for six before he holed out off the spinner at a sun-drenched Southampton.