AGEAS BOWL, HAMPSHIRE: It has been yet another disappointing outing for the Indian Test team in Southampton. Following that emphatic victory at Trent Bridge, they came here with a lot of expectations. But, unfortunately at the Ageas Bowl, once again India’s age-old problems in red-ball cricket came back to haunt them. The Test match saw a lot of ups and downs. No team had a clear upper-hand throughout. But when it comes to grabbing the key moments, Virat Kohli’s men did not raise their game.

Let’s look back at those game changing moments in the series-deciding fourth Test in which we saw yet another Indian overseas defeat.

Letting England score 246 in the first Innings

Winning the important toss and batting first, at one point on Day 1, England were tottering at 86 for 6. From there, they reached 246 in their first innings. It was a huge opportunity lost for India. Yes, both Sam Curran and Moeen Ali played a fearless brand of cricket at that phase, but as a bowling unit Indians did not deliver (read that could not) the knock-out punch. And this incapability of polishing the tail has been a continuous problem with the Indian bowlers.

The bowling was flat, especially from someone like Ravichandran Ashwin, who was expected to do well on that track. The seamers on the other hand did not get enough help from the surface with the soft old ball. As a result, England’s last four batsmen went on to add 160 runs – a scenario, quite similar to what we have seen at Edgbaston.

Middle-order batting collapse

Overseas, this Indian batting line-up is overdependent on skipper Virat Kohli. There is no denying in this fact. In South Africa, he was India’s highest scorer by some distance. Same trend has been followed here in England. Though here someone like Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane have also chipped in with handy contributions.

Meanwhile, during India’s batting in both innings at Southampton, following the fall of Kohli’s wicket, the entire middle-order collapsed. In the first innings, at one point India were 142 for 2 with Pujara and Kohli seemed firm at the crease. But from there, soon the scorecard read 195 for 8 and Pujara had to play that gem of a knock to hand India a slender lead of 27 runs.

Similarly, in the second innings, chasing 245 in the fourth innings, Kohli and Rahane rescued India from 22 for 3. The duo shared a 101-run stand before Kohli was caught at short leg off Moeen. Once again, after the fall of the skipper, the batting collapsed like a house of card and eventually India were bundled out 184, losing the match by 60 runs and the series with 1-3 margin, with one match still to be played.

Ravi Ashwin’s disappointing outing

While making his comeback in the England side at Southampton, Moeen Ali put up a match-winning performance, primarily with ball. The off-spinner took 9 for 134 in the game, which helped England to build continuous pressure on Indian batting. However, on that wicket, which had plenty of assistance for tweakers, Moeen’s counterpart Ashwin was expected to trouble the England line-up, which had seven left-handed batsmen. However, unfortunately for India, he failed to live up to the expectations.

Ashwin was pathetic with ball in hand in both innings. Especially, during England’s second innings, he was not hitting the roughs on a consistent basis, unlike Moeen. He in fact, unnecessarily changed his angles and tried to do too many things, instead to sticking to the basics. It was primarily because of Ashwin’s poor show with the ball, India had to chase 240-odd runs in the fourth innings, which turned out to be a stiff ask for this shabby looking Indian batting line-up.