Joe Root’s skilful defiance helped England at least take the fourth Test into a final day after Virat Kohli and Jayant Yadav’s record-breaking exploits put India on track for series victory at the Wankhede Stadium.
Alastair Cook’s seven-man attack proved powerless as Kohli surged to his third double-century of the year, and his career, and onto a personal-best 235. The team total of 631 was a record for this ground, and a stand of 241 with Jayant (104) was India’s highest ever for the eighth wicket.
The limit of England’s ambition, setting out again 231 runs from making their hosts bat again, appeared to be to keep them at bay for more than four sessions to avoid an innings defeat and just maybe keep the series deficit at 2-0 with one to play.
But those hopes were beginning to look washed up too as three wickets fell in under 14 overs. Root (77) decided the only remaining option was to change the tempo against India spinners Ravindra Jadeja and Ravi Ashwin on a worn pitch, and although he went lbw to Jayant at the start of the last hour England’s reward was a stumps total of 182 for six.
It was to Root’s great credit that he achieved and partially sustained his objective, passing his half-century with a reverse-sweep for his seventh four from 75 balls. He also found a lasting ally as he and Jonny Bairstow (50 not out) put on 92.
Root’s fellow Yorkshireman survived on 14 when he gloved an attempted reverse-sweep off Ashwin to slip, where Kohli could not hold on diving to his left. But Bairstow then stayed the course in an 89-ball innings, even after his fourth-wicket partner had paid for a rare misjudgement of length when he was hit deep in the crease by Jayant.
It is a match the tourists are still highly likely to lose, all the more so after Ben Stokes was unluckily caught off an edge onto his boot from a reverse-sweep at Ashwin and then nightwatchman Jake Ball edged behind off Ashwin in the final over. But the contributions from Root and Bairstow were still a vast improvement on the meek performance before tea.
First, they had lost debutant first-innings centurion Keaton Jennings for a golden duck, lbw to Bhuvneshwar Kumar from round the wicket.
Then Cook went too, to an action-replay lbw to Jadeja for the third time in the series, and Moeen Ali was caught at leg-slip off the slow left-armer.
Jayant had earlier completed his maiden Test hundred and Kohli’s 200 arrived in exactly seven-and-a-half hours, containing 23 fours from 302 balls.
It was a masterclass, lapped up by an adoring crowd.
India wasted no time after resuming on 451 for seven and there was no mercy for England as the next 154 runs were racked up without even the hint of a wicket in a horribly one-sided session-and-a-bit.
The added frustration for the tourists was that they appeared to have a precious first-innings lead almost within their grasp when India faltered to 307 for six the previous afternoon.
But then Adil Rashid dropped a tough caught-and-bowled chance to reprieve Kohli on 68 and Root put down Jayant on just eight at second slip off James Anderson.
Kohli remained the driving force behind England’s misery.
Jayant was no slouch either, following his captain at a respectful distance to reach his first Test century, and the first by any India number nine, having hit 14 fours from 196 balls.
He fell at last, stumped trying to hit Rashid with the spin from round the wicket over cover.
But Kohli still wanted a few more, and even after he was caught at deep extra-cover off Chris Woakes from the 340th ball he faced he allowed last pair Bhuvneshwar and Umesh Yadav to add another 16.
For Rashid there was a consolation of sorts in a fourth wicket which meant he avoided becoming only the third Englishman to concede 200 in an innings by eight runs. Bhuvneshwar was his victim as he holed out in the leg-side deep, before the torment could take a different turn for England.
India announced both seamer Mohammed Shami and wicketkeeper Wriddhiman Saha, out of this Test with respective knee and hamstring injuries, will also miss the fifth and final match in Chennai.