England thrashed India by an innings and 76 runs to win the third Test at Headingley with more than a day to spare as they levelled the five-match series at 1-1.
AFP Sport looks at three aspects of a resounding home victory that could have a bearing on the remaining two Tests at the Oval and Old Trafford.
Here’s to you, Mr Robinson
Following a 151-run loss in the second Test at Lord’s, England came into this match having seen injured express quick Mark Wood join a list of absent pacemen that includes Stuart Broad, Jofra Archer, Chris Woakes, Olly Stone and Ben Stokes.
Ollie Robinson, however, took two wickets in India’s meagre first-innings 78 and followed that up with a Test-best 5-65 — a haul that included a quartet of frontline batsmen in Rohit Sharma, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli and Rishabh Pant — as England surged to victory on Saturday’s fourth morning.
The 26-year-old only made his England debut in June but his four Tests have yielded 23 wickets at an impressively low average of under 18 apiece.
Robinson’s stock ball aims to seam away from the right-hander — such a delivery did for Kohli on Saturday — but he can also challenge the stumps and bring lbw into play with a nip-backer.
No wonder the India captain labelled Robinson a “real find”, with England counterpart Joe Root saying: “It’s been phenomenal to watch him perform as he has. He’s had big influences on all the Tests he’s played.”
Root v Kohli a lopsided contest so far
The two captains in this series are unquestionably among the best batsmen of their era, yet the returns of Root and Kohli after three matches could scarcely be more different.
Root’s 121 on his Yorkshire home ground — his sixth Test hundred this year — was also his third in as many matches against India after a 109 in a rain-marred draw at Trent Bridge and 180 not out at Lord’s.
The England skipper has scored 507 runs in the series at an average of 126.75 and yet there was a time when his relatively low conversion rate of fifties into hundreds meant some questioned whether he deserved a place alongside Kohli, Australia’s Steve Smith and New Zealand’s Kane Williamson as a modern-day master batsman.
By contrast, in the three Tests Kohli has managed a modest 124 runs at a lowly 24.80 while being given a working over by England’s quicks, with his second-innings 55 at Headingley his highest score of the series so far.
It is now 19 innings — a period of nearly two years — since Kohli last scored a Test century. And for all he relishes verbal confrontation, arguably the best way Kohli can inspire India to a series win is by rediscovering the form that has seen him score 7,671 runs in 95 Tests at 51.14 including 27 hundreds.
There may have been a time when, once a team got on top in a Test series, it could establish winning ‘momentum’ for the rest of the campaign.
But in an era of compressed schedules — this series compresses five Tests into some six weeks — fortunes can fluctuate between matches, with a losing side having little time to brood on a defeat before the next encounter.
It’s why Kohli has every reason for thinking India, triumphant at Lord’s but outclassed at Headingley, could bounce back at the Oval next week.
“If what happens in one game guarantees you the same thing in the next game, we should have smashed England again, which didn’t happen because it’s a new day,” he said.
“We like to be in this situation where people start coming at us with doubts and really start questioning the ability of our team,” Kohli added.
“That is the situation we love best.”