MUMBAI: Virat Kohli hailed India’s series win over England as his “sweetest” as captain on Monday after the hosts humiliated the tourists by an innings and 36 runs in the fourth Test.
Off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin tore through England’s lacklustre lower order in just half-an-hour in Mumbai as India clinched the five-match series 3-0 with a game to spare and equalled their longest unbeaten run.
England started the final day at the Wankhede Stadium trailing by 49 runs with four wickets remaining, and needing something extraordinary to avoid defeat.
But Ashwin grabbed all four wickets to send England crashing to 195 all out and finish with figures of 6-55 in the innings, and 12 scalps in the match.
Skipper Virat Kohli was named man of the match for his brilliant double century in a win that confirms India as Test cricket’s top side and avenges their two consecutive series defeats to England.
“This series win is probably the sweetest we have had in the last 14-15 months,” said Kohli, who took over from Mahendra Singh Dhoni as Test captain last year.
India have now won five straight series under Kohli, who struck his third double century of the year, and are unbeaten in 17 Tests, which equals their best-ever run which was set back in 1987.
England captain Alastair Cook paid tribute to Kohli’s batting, saying his Indian counterpart had led from the front and was in the form of his life.
“Clearly (he is) one of the greatest batsmen of our generation,” said Cook, the highest scorer among current Test players.
Cook, who has hinted he may step down after the series, also admitted it was a mistake to pick only two specialist spinners in Mumbai’s spin-friendly conditions.
“We would have liked another spinner but we had the opportunity to bowl India out for 400 and we did not take them,” said Cook.
Ashwin first dispatched Jonny Bairstow, who could only add one run to his overnight half-century, before clean-bowling Chris Woakes for nought.
Adil Rashid followed, caught in the deep by Lokesh Rahul for two, off Ashwin’s bowling, to put England at 193 with just one wicket remaining.
Emotions then threatened to boil over as Ashwin approached and exchanged words with James Anderson as he came into bat. He walked with him down the crease, forcing the umpire to intervene.
“It was clearly reference to what Jimmy had said yesterday which got blown out of all proportion,” said Cook, referring to Anderson’s comments that Kohli had some “technical deficiencies” in his game.
“It was a bit of a sour end really, a bit disappointing in terms of how well the spirit between both sides had been,” he added.
Kohli, who is known for his feisty demeanour on the field, joked that “for the first time I was trying to calm down things down”.
“I was laughing but Ashwin wasn’t too impressed so he let him know. He didn’t use any bad words, honestly,” said the captain.
Anderson was soon caught to become Ashwin’s sixth victim of the innings as England were all out for 195, failing to make India bat again.
England posted 400 in their first innings before India put on a massive 631, including Kohli’s double century and tons for Murali Vijay and Jayant Yadav.
Kohli struck 235 runs for his third double century of the year, while Yadav’s 104 marked his maiden Test hundred.
England were already up against it going into the second innings and they slumped to 182-6 by the end of day four.
Opener Keaton Jennings was out for a golden duck while Cook could only make 18 as England’s batsman failed to cope with India’s spin attack.
As well as Ashwin’s 6-55, Ravindra Jadeja grabbed 2-63 as Kohli’s side humbled the visitors.
Kohli said Ashwin, who is the top-ranked bowler in world cricket, had once again proved to be a class apart.
“We are running out of words to describe his performances,” said the Indian skipper.
“Where we stand today — 50 to 60 percent of that is Ashwin’s effort… The batsmen are playing second fiddle to that.”
The fifth Test, which is now a dead rubber, starts in Chennai later this week.