Jonathan Trott was England’s unshifting cornerstone as they adopted extreme measures for extreme conditions to try to close out a famous series victory in India (it will be England’s second successive Test series win over India after Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s team lost 0-4 in England, 2011).
Trott (66 not out) appeared in his element on this uniquely lifeless pitch at the VCA Stadium, England crawling to a stoic 161 for three while India’s frustrations simmered on an increasingly ill-tempered fourth day of the final Test. Dhoni had earlier declared India’s first innings on 326 for nine, four runs behind after half-an-hour of curiously unadventurous batting in a match England need only draw to hang on for a 2-1 success.
On brink of history
By stumps, thanks mostly to Trott and latterly in an unbroken half-century stand with Ian Bell, they were surely just one more session of batting away from overturning 27 years of history. Alastair Cook, in his first assignment as permanent Test captain on this tour, was in nappies the last time England won a series in India. With much therefore at stake, he and fellow opener Nick Compton set the tone as they concerned themselves with crease occupation, almost to the complete exclusion of runs.
Cook needed 27 balls to register his first run — and when he pushed Ishant Sharma for that scampered single. The captain’s strike rate got even worse before marginally better in a 93-ball innings of 13, during which he became England’s highest all-time Test runscorer in India. Compton was in no hurry either, but England knew the wickets column was all-important.
After Cook went, unluckily for the second time in the match when umpire Kumar Dharmasena detected an edge and caught-behind off Ashwin where video replay suggested there was none, Trott tore up the template by sweeping his very first ball for four. Trott ground on to complete a priceless 106-ball 50, and by stumps he had kept India at bay for almost 50 overs. Trott’s partnership with Bell took England from double-figures to beyond 150 — a position of relative comfort, barring a collapse today.
Bell’s arrival coincided with a minor spike in the scoring rate too, and England exceeded two-an-over for the first time - halfway through the 62nd. It was a means to an end, of course, as has been the case for much of the series - and no one with an English yen was complaining.