At Lord's, July 17-21. India won by 95 runs. Toss: England.
It was a staggering result. On the greenest surface served up at Lord's in living memory - at the start it was hard to distinguish the pitch from the playing area - India lost the toss and had to face England's swing-masters, Anderson and Broad. But India batted and bowled better, and ended up with only their second win at Lord's in 17 attempts, and their first overseas in 16, since beating West Indies at Kingston in June 2011. As Rahul Dravid enthused: "They outplayed England in English conditions."
England were possibly distracted by the stormclouds brewing over the altercation between Anderson and Jadeja at Trent Bridge, although their seamers struggled to readjust to the probing lengths required for a greentop after a winter - and three home Tests - spent bowling defensively. Whatever the reason, they let India off the hook in the first innings, batted brainlessly on the final day - and weren't a great deal better in between. On the first morning, according to Hawk-Eye, not one ball in the first ten overs would have hit the stumps. The bowling improved in the middle session, but for much of the day was short and wayward. On a strip that demanded a full length, Plunkett came round the wicket and dug it in, a futile display of mini-Bodyline. Up in the press box you could almost sense Mike Selvey and Derek Pringle flexing their shoulders, while that strange sound might have been Alec Bedser revolving in his grave.
Even though the bowlers' radars were not calibrated, they could hardly fail to take wickets on such a juicy surface. In the third over, Anderson got one to climb on Dhawan; it was his 230th Test wicket in England, passing Fred Trueman's mark. Later, in what became a theme of the series, Anderson dismissed Kohli, to annexe the records both for most wickets for England against India (beating 62 by Derek Underwood and Bob Willis) and overall at Lord's, passing Ian Botham's 69. And when he despatched Binny shortly after tea, with a high-looking lbw, India were 145 for seven; it appeared that the expected order would be restored after all.
Rahane, though, had other ideas. Playing wristily and often late, he motored to 50 with two off-side drives for four off Plunkett, and celebrated with another that flew over cover point. He found an able partner in Bhuvneshwar Kumar: fresh from his twin fifties at Trent Bridge, he made a sensible 36, and shared an eighth -wicket stand of 90 before succumbing to the new ball. Rahane twice pulled Anderson for four to reach 98, survived a big lbw appeal from Broad, then reached his second Test century with another neat drive to the cover boundary. It was a surprise when, three deliveries later, he drove firmly but uppishly, and Anderson put his left hand down in his follow-through, plucking the ball as if choosing a ripe peach in the supermarket. India were all out early next morning, but their last three wickets had doubled the score.
Now India's seamers showed England how to do it. Kumar pitched it up, wobbled it around, and reaped the rewards. Rahane had dropped Robson at second slip, but it wasn't costly: both openers were soon caught behind, and Bell followed, gloving to third. Ballance, England's new No. 3 via Harare and Harrow, bailed his team out with a measured century, his second in Tests and his second at Lord's (only Andrew Strauss had previously registered his first two centuries there). He clearly likes the ground: he had scored 130 for Yorkshire earlier in the season - following M. J. K. Smith in making hundreds in his first three first-class matches at Lord's - as well as 119 against Eton in 2008. Showing strength of character after a reprimand for being photographed without a shirt on a drunken night out in Nottingham, Ballance countered the still tricky pitch with a durable defence - just one scoring shot in his first 31 balls - but attacked enough to collect 15 fours, many with chunky cuts and delicate dabs. He had a stroke of luck at 32, though, when he edged the unfortunate Binny between Dhoni and Dhawan at first slip: neither moved. Ali helped him put on 98, before losing concentration and providing Vijay's optimistic off-spin with a first Test wicket; three runs later Ballance flicked fatally down leg.
On the third morning England lost Stokes (for a duck) and Broad in the same Kumar over. But they were nudged into the lead by the last pair - nightwatchman Plunkett, with a maiden Test fifty, and Anderson, who started with a Laraesque cover-driven four, before being winkled out for 19 by his recurring nightmare, Jadeja. Kumar finished with six for 82, his second successive five-for and India's second-best figures at Lord's - until the second innings.
India trailed by 24, but Dhawan hustled to 31 out of 40, then carved to point, where Root took a flying catch. The lead grew to nearly 100 before Pujara and Kohli, shouldering arms to one that came back up the slope, fell to successive balls from Plunkett after tea. Prior's catch off Pujara's push at an awayswinger made him the first wicketkeeper to 50 dismissals in Tests at Lord's. Still, with Vijay seemingly immovable - he had 59 from 190 balls by stumps - India had the upper hand again by the end of the third day.
Twelve runs leaked from Broad's first over next morning, but things then settled down. After a stand of 79 Dhoni was well caught at second slip, and in the next over Binny skied towards mid-off, from where Cook ran back to take a nicely judged catch. When Vijay couldn't resist nibbling at an Anderson outswinger, falling for 95, the match was again on a knife-edge - only for Jadeja and Kumar, with aggressive half-centuries, to wrench the blade back India's way in a partnership of 99. Stokes eventually made a mark by dismissing both, but England's target was 319 (precisely what they had scored in the first innings) in a day and a half.
Robson failed again, misjudging an arm-ball from Jadeja, but - with the pitch turning sharply - Cook and Ballance took the score to the relative comfort of 70. From nowhere, three wickets tumbled for two runs as Sharma found some reverse-swing (although Bell was confounded by a shooter). The pendulum had swung again, but still the oscillations weren't over. Root and Ali saw out the evening, then played calmly next morning, in indifferent weather and under lights. Root's force through point off Kumar - rocking back classically like Geoff Boycott or Mike Atherton - meant the pair had doubled the score. The requirement kept ticking down and, when the hundred partnership came up, England heads were high, while some of the Indians were sporting frowns above their designer stubble.
The target had dipped below 150, and the pitch was no longer misbehaving. Dhoni suggested a change to Sharma: try going round the wicket, and bounce a few. He was reluctant, but went along with it - and, last ball before lunch, Ali took his eyes off a short one and gloved to short leg. It was a hammer blow: England were rocked, India rejuvenated. Dhoni might have been that one ball away from calling off the experiment, but it now continued after lunch. In a jaw-dropping passage of play, three England batsmen obligingly hooked straight to fielders on the boundary. Prior pulled to Vijay at deep midwicket (and shortly afterwards announced he would be stepping aside for the summer to attend to long standing injuries). Stokes fluffed an attempted pull, to complete a pair and a horror trot of 18 runs in ten international innings. And Root, who had sailed with typical serenity to 66, fell into the trap too, dropping his bat in disgust as Binny swallowed the catch at deep square. Sharma had taken three wickets in seven deliveries, and England were sliding to an embarrassing defeat. Boycott called their batting "mind-boggling", probably before listing those members of his family who could have done better.
The end was not long delayed. Broad gloved another short one down the leg side to give Sharma seven in an innings for the first time (as at Lord's in 2011, he had bowled far better in the second innings than the first), and finally Anderson was run out by a direct hit from - who else? - Jadeja.
India's previous victory at Lord's in 1986 had ended David Gower's first spell as England captain. Predictable criticism rained down on the home side with, almost as predictably, Shane Warne leading the way: "India bullied and bounced them out… Remember they won the toss on the greenest pitch ever, and blew it." And as other media pundits queued up to criticise Cook - six former England captains suggested he should be rested or even sacked - it seemed that another might hand over the "I'm in charge" T-shirt after losing to India at Lord's, as Gower had to Mike Gatting. Remarkably quickly, everything would change.
Man of the Match: I. Sharma. Attendance: 129,146.
Steven Lynch is the editor of the updated edition of Wisden on the Ashes