In the middle of the last afternoon at The Oval, as the Indian wave started to wash away England, Virat Kohli took a break from celebrating with his team, and started miming playing a trumpet to the crowd.
To one specific section of the crowd, in particular. To the ever diminishing group of English supporters in general, and the Barmy Army’s bugler in specific.
India’s captain, it appeared, had had enough of the hosts having their voice heard, while the England batters railed against the inevitable.
In time, the din of away support would drown out anything the home diehards could muster, as their heroes completed their finest Test win since … a two weeks ago.
Maybe this win trumped the classic at Lord’s, even. After all, the two great away triumphs book ended an innings defeat at the hands of England at Headingley last week.
Consider everything that was against the tourists. They had been shot out for their seventh lowest Test score ever a few days earlier. That was met with the traditional calmness and even-natured response to defeat back at home. Meaning, hysterical criticism.
Then they were inserted under gloomy skies, against an upbeat seam attack, and on a sporty first day wicket. No surprise they gave up a 99-run deficit on first innings.
And finally, to top all that, their head coach Ravi Shastri and others of his staff went down with Covid — with the positive test results confirmed on the final day of the game.
Although they left England with a record target to make in the final innings, the home side were at one point the likelier of the two sides to force a win, according to WinViz, the forecast tool used by the broadcasters.
At that point, England had reached 100 for no loss, and the pitch appeared a featherbed.
Cue Shardul Thakur. He had Rory Burns caught at the wicket — his fourth major impact in the game to date, after his dual half-centuries, and his dismissal of England’s leading run-scorer, Ollie Pope, in the first innings.
Later, he got Joe Root. It was remarkable body of work.
Thakur’s two victims fell either side of a stunning one-two by Jasprit Bumrah, who got through both Pope and Jonny Bairstow with searing, in-swinging yorkers. From that point on, England were cooked.
“The character that the side has shown, to come back from 100 run deficit showed that we were not down and out,” Kohli said, in the aftermath of the 157-run win.
“I said at Lord's as well, I am proud of the character, and it was among the top three bowling performances I have witnessed as India captain.”
Kohli said Shastri had called his side from isolation as soon as they had returned to the dressing room
“It is unfortunate they aren't here, but they just called us,” Kohli said of Shastri, as well as fellow members of the support staff Bharat Arun, R Sridhar, and Nitin Patel. “[The win is] a real momentum boost. And the fans have been outstanding too.”
The seal was set on the win when Umesh Yadav accounted for Craig Overton and James Anderson in quick succession, as England were fired out for 210 early in the final session.
Root rued the fact his side had not forged more of a first-innings advantage, after they had bowled India out for 191 on the opening day.
The result puts India 2-1 up in the series, with just the fifth Test at Old Trafford, starting on Friday, still to be played.
Root said his side will have to find a solution to the threat posed by India’s on-song pace attack.
“We have got to find ways to get better, but be realistic and realise that was world-class bowling,” he said. “It might reverse [swing] at Old Trafford, and we'll have to manage it better.”