James Anderson took four wickets as England became the world’s number one Test side with a crushing innings-and-242-run victory against India at Edgbaston.
England’s second successive win inside four days saw them take the third Test in emphatic fashion and gave them an unbeatable 3-0 lead in this four-match series.
It also meant they would win this series by the two-match margin they needed to replace India at the top of the ICC’s Test Championship table.
It is the first time England have occupied pole position since the table’s creation in 2003. India were dismissed for 244 in their second-innings after man-of-the-match Alastair Cook’s career-best 294 had propelled England to a massive first-innings 710 for seven declared — their highest Test total in 73 years.
Only Sachin Tendulkar offered any top-order resistance with 40 before his latest quest to score an unprecedented 100th international hundred ended in unlucky fashion when he was run-out backing up.
India captain MS Dhoni finished on 74 not out and shared a stand of 75 with Praveen Kumar for the eighth wicket. Kumar made 40, his Test-best score coming in just 18 balls with three sixes – all against off-spinner Graeme Swann – and five fours. But the gutsy number nine was merely delaying the inevitable.
Earlier, India resumed on 35 for one after losing Virender Sehwag for a ‘king pair’ to Anderson late on Friday.
Anderson then struck twice early yesterday to remove Gautam Gambhir and Rahul Dravid for their overnight scores of 14 and 18 respectively.
Dravid, caught behind, seemed uncertain as to whether he had edged the ball but walked off without reviewing the decision.
New batsman VVS Laxman could only manage two before, pushing tentatively outside off-stump, he too fell to Anderson. That meant the 29-year-old Lancastrian had taken three wickets for 16 runs in 27 balls to leave India 56 for four.
Laxman’s exit gave Anderson his 237th Test wicket, one more than the late Sir Alec Bedser, also a fast-medium bowler, as he moved up into seventh place in England’s all-time list. Suresh Raina was then lbw for 10 as he misread Swann’s arm-ball.
Raina summed up India’s mental, as well as physical, tiredness by asking for a review of his dismissal even though, thanks to Indian objections to ball-tracking technology, lbw’s cannot be referred in this series.
Tendulkar, who had looked in good touch while striking eight fours, was then run-out after Dhoni drove at Swann only for the bowler to deflect the ball onto the non-striker’s stumps with the ‘Little Master’ just shy of his ground.
India reached lunch on 116 for six, having lost five wickets for 81 runs during the morning session. And that became 130 for seven when Amit Mishra was well caught by a leaping Stuart Broad at mid-off following a drive against Swann.
Kumar was eventually out when he top-edged a pull off seamer Broad and was caught by Ravi Bopara.
Tim Bresnan then ensured an India side boasting one of the world’s strongest top-orders, who have yet to make 300 this series, were bowled out inside 56 overs when he dismissed last man Shanthakumaran Sreesanth.
The fourth and final Test at The Oval starts on Thursday.
“I agree with the criticism and let’s accept we were very ordinary. The worst day was the second day where India could take only three wickets for 372 runs from 90 overs. I have not seen an Indian team like this in the last 10 years.”
“It is Dhoni’s keeping that seems to typify an outfit that is either tired from too much cricket or unwilling to fight tooth and nail to protect their status. Dhoni has been sloppiness personified behind the stumps.”
“We’re not the best fielding side in the world. What we’re really proud of is our bowling and batting. A couple of defeats don’t change anything I’m still proud of my team. Being number one is not important, it’s about being consistent.”
“Getting to number one has been a goal for a long time and it fills me with a lot of pride to know we have completed something very special. We have had to work very had and the guys have put a lot of hard graft to get to the top.”
Published in The Express Tribune, August 14th, 2011.
Watch a slideshow pictures from the match here.
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