Former England skipper Nasser Hussain described the happenings on the final day at The Oval as ‘Kohli’s Midas Test’, and asserted that the Indian skipper, whose legacy was on the line heading into Day 5 of the fourth Test, passed his captaincy test with flying colours.
A 100-run England opening stand initially gave the impression that India might walk away from The Oval without tasting victory, but a combination of world-class bowling and exceptional captaincy propelled the visitors to a famous 157-run win. Kohli got his tactics spot on, and the pressure exerted by India on the final day saw England lose their last 10 wickets for just 110 runs to go 1-2 down in the series.
In his column for the Daily Mail, Hussain was full of praise for Kohli, and noted how all his decisions were vindicated - including the controversial one to drop Ravichandran Ashwin.
“I said at the start of the fifth day that it was going to be a big test of Virat Kohli's captaincy – and he passed that test with flying colours,” Hussain wrote in his Daily Mail column.
“That Oval pitch offered very little for the seamers, and only a bit of rough for Ravindra Jadeja's left-arm spin. But somehow he manufactured 10 English wickets on the last day.
“Every bowling change worked, and so did every tweak to the field. And when he took the second new ball after tea, it produced a wicket straightaway, with Umesh Yadav getting Craig Overton.
“One way or another, this was Kohli's Midas Test – everything he touched turned to gold, and India are now one game away from a famous series victory, not long after beating Australia in their own backyard.
“Even the non-selection of Ravichandran Ashwin, the top-ranked spinner in Test cricket, became irrelevant. People said India would miss him. Kohli said: 'No, we won't. I'm backing our seamers to do the job.' And he was right.”
Post lunch, it was reverse swing that proved to be England’s nemesis as Jasprit Bumrah & Co. ran through the hosts, but Hussain observed that the way Kohli used Jadeja in the pre-lunch session was integral to the happenings in the second session. The former England skipper also asserted that how Kohli used Jadeja in the second innings almost proved to be a lesson for Joe Root, who had bowled his seamers into the ground.
“Kohli also used Jadeja cleverly – in a way that Root failed to do with Moeen Ali on the fourth day. By keeping his spinner on at one end, India's captain could rotate the quicks at the other, using them in short, sharp bursts and keeping them fresh. By ignoring Moeen, Root ended up bowling his seamers into the ground, with possible consequences for the fifth Test at Old Trafford.
“Jadeja performed another important function too, aside from the important wickets of Haseeb Hameed and Moeen. He was landing it in the rough outside the right-hander's leg stump, which created the conditions for reverse-swing, because it allowed them to keep one side rough and the other side smooth.”
It was yet another disappointing showing from the English batters, who lasted just 60 overs on the final day, but Hussain said that a lot of credit had to go to the Indian bowlers, who he felt were impeccable and irresistible on the final day.
“I can't be too critical of England's batting. It does look like another collapse, and in fairness going from 100 without loss to 147 for six does not look too clever.
“But there are times when you have to give credit to the opposition, and to the bowling of Bumrah in particular.
“We forget sometimes that the opponents are allowed to play well too.”