Moeen Ali claimed nine wickets in the match as England registered a series-clinching victory over India in the fourth Test at The Ageas Bowl, Southampton.
Chasing 245 for a win, India were bundled out for 184. England won the match by 60 runs and took an unassailable 3-1 series lead in the five-match Test series. It was India’s second successive overseas Test series loss after the 2-1 series defeat in South Africa earlier this year.
However, India’s head coach Ravi Shastri reckons that Virat Kohli and company have performed better in overseas conditions than any of the Indian teams of last 15-20 years.
"As hard as our guys tried, England were one-up on us there. Nothing to take away (from them), the endeavour of this team is to travel well, compete and win. If you look at the last three years, we have won nine matches overseas and three series (against West Indies and twice in Sri Lanka)," Shastri told reporters on Wednesday (September 5).
"I can't see any other Indian team in the last 15-20 years that has had the same run in such a short time, and you have had some great players playing in those series. So the promise is there, and it's just about getting tougher mentally. You have got to hurt when you lose matches because that's when you look within and come out with the right kind of answers to combat such situations and get past the finishing line. One day you will if you believe,” he added.
Shastri also stressed on the mental side of the game to cross the final hurdle and win Test series in overseas conditions.
"I think you have got to get tough mentally. We have run teams close overseas and we have been competed. But now it's not about competing (any longer). We have to win games from here onwards. Now the endeavour is to understand where you made the mistakes, take it head on and try to correct it,” Shastri remarked.
"The scoreline says 3-1, which means India, have lost the series. What the scoreline doesn't say that India could have been 3-1 or it could have been 2-2, and my teams knows it. They would have been hurt and rightly so after the last game. But this is a team that will not throw in the towel," he further asserted.
When asked what actually the batters can do to improve and cross the finish line, Ravi said: “I think shot selection left a lot to be desired. We blew away a very good position straight away after tea on day two (in Southampton). That's an area where you can tighten, and be aware of what the team needs. Being aware of the match situation will be a big help. I think that was crucial more than anything else.”
"I thought at 180-4, there was a definite chance of a 75-80-run lead, and that would have been crucial. So that hurts. Edgbaston could have gone either way because we had our share of luck as well. At one time England were in the driver's seat; we managed to come back. But there was a stage where you could have been really ahead of the game, after the job the bowlers did on day one,” he explained.
Playing his first match in the series, Moeen took nine wickets in Southampton. While the English off-spinner had bamboozled the Indian batting line-up by claiming 5 for 63 in the first innings, he scalped 4 for 71 in the second essay, including the pivotal one of Kohli.
On the other hand, India’s premier spinner Ravichandran Ashwin managed to claim only three wickets in the match. When the conditions were suitable for spin bowling in England’s second innings, Ashwin returned with match figures of 84/1.
"Ashwin was fit. You have to give credit to Moeen Ali there on the last day. To be honest, he bowled magnificently. I think it's straightforward (difference between them) very simple, very obvious, it was there for everyone to see. Moeen hit those patches more than Ashwin, as simple as that,” Shastri said.
India will be playing for pride in the fifth Test, which will also be Alastair Cook's final Test. Ravi Shastri paid a rich tribute to England’s leading run-scorer in Test cricket.
"I saw his first Test match, saw him getting a hundred in Nagpur. He's been one of England's greatest cricketers - no question. He always came across a mentally tough bloke, real tough cookie. As far as I am concerned, there were times in his career when he batted where he did look the master chef,” he commented.
"He might not go down as one of the best-looking, fluent batsmen, but my word he was effective. Playing in these conditions for that length of time, where the ball does move and it's a challenge for an opening batsman – I think he's been simply outstanding. Good luck to him (for the future),” Shastri concluded.
(With PTI inputs)