Ollie Robinson rips through India as England secure massive innings victory at Headingley
The tourists had scraped and clawed their way back into the game on day three, reaching 215 for two to clear much of their foreboding 354-run deficit, but saw their resistance reduced to rubble as England squared the LV= Insurance Series 1-1 in emphatic fashion.
England took eight wickets for 63 as they blew their rivals away with a relentless whirlwind of probing pace bowling and unflappable catching. Robinson was the star performer, taking four big wickets to wrap up fine figures of five for 65.
James Anderson and Moeen Ali took one apiece as the pressure piled up, before Craig Overton mopped things up to leave India shellshocked at 278 all out.
It was a glorious day for Robinson in particular, proving himself at the very highest level at a ground where his career almost went off the rails.
The 27-year-old was sacked by Yorkshire as a teenager for breaches of club discipline but now he was the toast of a delirious Western Terrace.
It was also a proud day for another of the White Rose county’s favourite sons as Joe Root finally overtook Michael Vaughan with a record 27th Test victory as England captain.
After two days of outright dominance, England’s momentum had meandered somewhat on Friday, labouring for 80 luckless overs as India’s batsmen stood tall.
In any normal circumstances, second-innings steel of that magnitude would be enough for the batting side to control the game but India were still deeply in deficit.
Having conceded a 354-run lead, they had done masses of heavy lifting for the privilege of resuming 139 behind. A cloudless, sunny morning promised the best batting conditions of the match but for England, hopes lay heavily on the second new ball, which was taken immediately.
After three scoreless overs, the breakthrough came. Robinson’s height means his natural length clears the stumps more often than not but here he pushed it forward just enough and got the ball tailing through the air.
Cheteshwar Pujara, who had been previously looked so secure in defence, got his angles all wrong and withdrew the bat entirely. With no shot offered he was stone dead in front of off stump, reprieved for a few moments by a puzzling not out verdict which England swiftly overturned.
Having brought an end to the 99-run partnership, attention turned squarely on Virat Kohli.
The India skipper had a scare on 46, given caught behind off Anderson and seemingly ready to accept his fate until Ajinkya Rahane talked him into a successful referral. That stay of execution gave him enough time to to reach his first half-century of the series but his number was up soon after.
Robinson again found the perfect recipe – just back of a length, a touch outside off stump and straightening up off the pitch. Kohli mis-timed a poky drive and Root’s hands did not let him down as he tumbled into the catch at first slip.
Robinson wheeled away in delight, having cut the head of the Indian snake, and the release of tension was palpable.
Rahane is a player of proven pedigree but he has looked a shadow of his best self recently. A couple of sweet strokes hinted at his quality but it was really no surprise when he nibbled at an Anderson delivery that held its line outside off and fed Jos Buttler.
The ball was talking, the catches were sticking and the resistance was all but broken.
Rishabh Pant never looked like having the stomach for a drawn-out fight, instead choosing to scamper down the track or waft inanely away from his body.
He lasted only seven deliveries, Robinson grabbing his third of a stellar morning with one shaping towards the cordon and winding up in Overton’s hands at third slip.
Everything England touched was coming up trumps and when Root sent for Moeen Ali’s spin, he picked off Mohammed Shami in just two deliveries.
It was a lovely dismissal, tossed up outside off, then ripping back through the gate to clean up the tailender. India were exactly 100 behind as their seventh wicket fell and the only question now was the scale of the defeat.
Robinson got a richly-deserved five-for when he continued probing away and earned Ishant Sharma’s edge, holding the ball aloft to all four corners of the ground he briefly called home as a young player.
He finally made way after a long and decisive spell that will linger long in the memory and his replacement, Overton, finished things off.
As was the order of the day, he pounded out an awkward line and waited for the errors to come, Ravindra Jadeja (30) and Mohammed Siraj (nought) obliging in the space of three balls.
England were done before lunch, back in a series that had threatened to slip through their fingers and will head to the Kia Oval next week in the ascendance.