5th over: England 42-0 (Roy 24, Buttler 18) It’s time, Kohli feels, for a second spell from Axar. Buttler swings him for – two, as KL Rahul manages to prevents by shoving the ball back over the rope before he plants his feet. Clever stuff. Then there’s a review for LBW, Axar’s middle name, but Buttler was well forward and the ball struck him outside the line. Buttler responds by cutting for four and then dancing down the track and on-driving for six. Why couldn’t England do this to Axar in the Tests?
“Ah,” says Abhijato Sensarma, “it’s all looking a bit too dreadful for the Indians, isn’t it? If it’s any consolation, there’s four of these things left – England could very well forget how to play cricket by the time we’re done with this series.”
4th over: England 29-0 (Roy 24, Buttler 5) Kohli, trying everything, replaces Kumar with Shardul Thakur. Buttler glides past backward point for two, then gets in a tangle trying a ramp and edging into his own thigh. “It’s just not a good pitch to bat on,” says Stuart Broad, whereupon Roy slams a length ball back past the bowler for four. He already has the second-highest score of the match.
3rd over: England 21-0 (Roy 19, Buttler 2) But it will be one spinner replacing another, as Axar hands over to the leg-spin of Yuzvendra Chahal. Roy greets him rather rudely with a six over midwicket, and then gets a fortunate four as a square drive spins past the man at backward point. To cap it all, there’s a Harrow cut for a single. India’s score at this stage, a caption informs us, was 7 for 2.
2nd over: England 10-0 (Roy 8, Buttler 2) It won’t be spin – it’s Bhuvi Kumar, back from injury. He almost gets a wicket first ball, as Roy mis-hits a chip and picks up a jammy two. Then Roy gets his eye in, swinging over square leg for four. Seven off the over, which is no more than England need.
20th over: India 124-7 (Sundar 3, Patel 7) Morgan still had a bit of Rashid up his sleeve as the final over approached. He’s brave, but not that brave, so it’s Jordan, England’s regular death bowler. His slower balls do the trick before a quicker one is thwacked for four to third man by Axar Patel. And that’s the end of a stop-start innings and a delicious display in the field from England. “A near-perfect bowling performance,” says Nasser Hussain. India put on a one-man show by Shreyas Iyer, whereas England staged an ensemble piece with every bowler (and fielder) doing his bit and Jofra Archer merely first among equals.
WinViz now gives England an 85pc chance of victory. What can possibly go wrong?