England seal the match, series and No.1 spot
Birmingham: It was the best of times for England, it was the worst of times for India , it was the age of wisdom for Andy Flower, it was the age of foolishness on the part of Duncan Fletcher, it was the epoch of belief from the English batsmen, it was the epoch of incredulity from the so called ‘famed’ Indian batters, it was the season of Light for English bowlers, it was the season of Darkness for their Indian counterparts, it was the summer of hope for the hosts, it was the summer of despair for the visitors, India had everything before this, now they have nothing as compared to the English.
This rendition of few lines of Charles Dickens from ‘A Tale of two cities’ in cricketing context probably sums up the abysmal English summer India have had which still is a long way from its closure.
On the other hand, the hosts, Strauss and Co. could not have chosen a better platform to assert their dominance in world cricket and reach the summit of the highest order.
Just for the stats, England won the third Test match of the npower Test series at Edgbaston, Birmingham emphatically by an innings and 242 runs against India.
In the process they sealed the four match series taking an unassailable lead of 3-0 after trouncing India in the previous two Tests at Lord’s and Trent Bridge, one by 196 runs and other by 319 runs, respectively.
James Anderson, the fourth over specialist ended the match with impressive figures of 18-3-85-4 ably supported by Broad and Swann, two wickets each, who helped cleaning up the tail.
Alastair cook’s mammoth innings of 294 stood out, as he was awarded the man of the match award.
For India, Dhoni scored his second consecutive half century finishing unbeaten at 74, Praveen Kumar’s blitz of 40 should be rated way above Dhoni’s effort as Praveen played with intent, intent to entertain the crowd at least.
This defeat of an innings and 242 runs is the third biggest loss for India in Tests.
Earlier, Day 4 at Edgbaston had started off with England firm favourites to dismantle India from their No.1 perch and Anderson immediately proved why they deserved the No.1 status.
Anderson, in way has become the fourth innings specialist as he ripped through the Indian top order. He had on Day 3 scalped Sehwag first ball and his first ball of Day 4 also yielded with Gautam Gambhir’s wicket. His next over saw the demise of Rahul Dravid.
Dravid thinking he had edged the ball walked off even as the umpire was deliberating on the decision. Replay and hot-spot showed that though there was no edge, he had managed to nick his shoe laces with the bat at the very instant when the ball went past his bat.
Dravid thinking that it is a nick walked off. Evidently, honesty does not really pay all the time.
Laxman was the next to go as he poked an Anderson out swinger straight to Matt prior.
In the meantime Tendulkar once again walked in as the crowd anticipated that he might raise his bat amidst the Indian rubble. He started off positively, but that was it, it has just been the starts for India and nothing else.
Suresh Raina had joined Sachin in the middle and as he faced ball after ball he kept on reminding the loss of Sourav Ganguly in that No.6 position. When Raina failed in the two previous tests he would have got some sympathies but this third failure would definitely bring in pity on the southpaw. He has the talent but just not enough technique.
When you are doing well, everything just goes your way and that is what England enjoyed today. Not that they needed to, but when a bit of luck comes in when you are performing flawlessly, it does help a bit.
And when one of Dhoni’s rare straight drives was deviated by Swann to the non-strikers stump to catch Sachin short of his crease, even a die-hard English fan would have thought of it being so ridiculously in favour of England.
The morning session ended with India at a hapless situation of 116/6 and England sniffing at victory.
At Lunch, England would have enjoyed an Indian curry along with the chicken tikka masala as they marched on to the field for the second session to get a bit more of the Indians.
Amit Mishra departed and the inevitable grew further closer. Praveen Kumar though had other plans, after being hit on the thumb; he went berserk raking up 16 in a Graeme Swann over. He further went on to entertain the crowd with a quick fire 40 off just 18 deliveries which included three sixes.
England did not take much time to wipe out the tail after lunch and when Kevin Pietersen held on to a simple catch to dismiss Sreesanth, the whole of Edgbaston let out a huge roar. The three lions of the ECB rejoiced, the eleven on field rejoiced. Dhoni could just stand there unbeaten, though thoroughly beaten, bearing his team’s humiliation.