Andrew Strauss led England deservingly grabbed the No.1 Test Ranking from India after defeating the visitors by a crushing margin of an innings and 242 runs in the third Test at Edgbaston. The homeside now have an unassailable lead of 3-0 and would be looking to make it a cleansweep at The Oval. The Indian batting meekly surrendered on the fourth day getting bundled out for 244 in just 55.3 overs. James Anderson was once again the bext bowler for England in the second innings capturing four top order wickets.
Tale of the Morning Session :
A lot was expected from the overnight pair of Gautam Gambhir and Rahul Dravid given their reputation in playing long knocks to force draws out of disastrous situations. India resuming Day 4 at 35 for 1 in 12 overs was greeted with overcast conditions. It was the worst start possible for the visitors as they lost opener Gautam Gambhir (14 from 42 balls) departed in just the second over of the morning when he was forced to edge an away going delivery from James Anderson to second slip. A couple of laters, there was huge trouble for India when Rahul Dravid seemed to have edged Anderson on the frontfoot to the keeper. While it looked like an obvious caught behind, hotspot and snickometer revealed no edge and the sound that was heard was because of the bat striking Dravid’s flying shoe laze! However, Rahul Dravid (18 from 39 balls) was unaware of that situation and didn’t go on to take the review which could have saved his wicket.
It was simply going to be James Anderson’s morning as he went onto remove another big player VVS Laxman (2 from 21 balls) with a perfect outswinger which drew the right hander forward and got him nicking behind. India slipped to 56 for 4 in the 22nd over and that was enough to predict that the match would get over on the fourth day itself. Young Suresh Raina who joined Sachin Tendulkar badly needed to come good to silence his critics. He batted out 24 balls, smashed a couple of boundaries off Graeme Swann but got out to the same bowler in the 29th over, absolutely clueless about the line of a sliding drifter around middle. Raina (10) pretended to play a forward defensive shot but his bat was way outside the line and was rightly given out lbw to have India at 87 for 5.
In the 33rd over, Sachin Tendulkar who appeared to be shaping up well lost his wicket through a bizarre run out backing up too much at the non-striker’s end. It was a Dhoni straight drive off Swann which deflected back onto the stumps which proved to be fatal for Tendulkar (40 from 60 balls with 8 fours). India went into lunch at a hopeless 116 for 6 in 38 overs with their Skipper MS Dhoni fighting to get a respectable score for himself.
Tale of the Afternoon Session :
Amit Mishra (22 from 28 balls with 4 fours) who had a poor match with the ball released his frustration with some attacking shots but soon got caught at extra covers trying to loft Graeme Swann inside out in the 41st over with India at 130 for 7. Praveen Kumar came in next and along with MS Dhoni went after the bowling especially treating Swann with utmost disdain. Praveen took a smacking blow on his finger but that didn’t stop him from providing the much lacking entertainment with the bat. Along with MS Dhoni, Praveen Kumar powered India past 200 before he fell in the 49th over with a weak one handed pull off a quick bouncer from Broad which was caught at covers. Praveen Kumar chipped in with an entertaining cameo of 40 from just 18 balls with 5 fours and 3 sixes in a partnership of 75 runs in just about 8 overs!
The inevitable defeat came for India pretty soon with Broad and Bresnan removing the no.10 and no.11 respectively. First Broad got Ishant Sharma (0 from 8 balls) lbw when he went back to a length delivery and was wrongly judged lbw with the ball missing off. Last man Sreesanth (5 from 13 balls) was forced to glove a nasty bouncer from Bresnan into the hands of gully. Skipper MS Dhoni salvaged some self pride with an unbeaten knock of 74 from just 79 balls with 13 fours which was his second fifty of this match. Alastair Cook who played a marathon knock of 294 walked away with the Man of the Match honours.