x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Broad gains for England bid to usurp India as No 1 Test side

England to focus on winning one game of two to leapfrog India after their huge win by 319 runs at Trent Bridge.

Tim Bresnan, right, took five wickets as India's demise was swift and dramatic.
Tim Bresnan, right, took five wickets as India's demise was swift and dramatic.

NOTTINGHAM, ENGLAND // As eight men dressed as bananas, one as Pink Panther, and a stand full of Englishmen in casual gear rose to sing, "Stand-up, if you're 2-0 up," the local hero Stuart Broad closed out a victory which puts England a step closer to the top of the cricket world.

England will be assured of leapfrogging India to go to No 1 in the Test rankings if they win the next Test at Edgbaston, Birmingham, in two weeks' time, having crushed the beleaguered touring side here.

"It was a fantastic turnaround and I'm proud of everything we achieved in this Test match," Andrew Strauss, the England captain, said. "Our primary goal is to win the next Test match and we'll let everything else look after itself."

It was fitting that Broad, who was later named man of the match, should take the final wicket, as it was his hat-trick in a burst of five wickets for no runs on the second evening which turned the Test in England's favour.

"Wickets were hard to come by at the start of the season, so it is pleasing to get some," Broad, who also struck a vital half-century on the first day, said.

This match will chiefly be remembered for India's decision to let off Ian Bell, the England centurion, after his bizarre run out dismissal on Sunday. The tempest surrounding that incident served to energise England, but took the wind totally out of India's sails

MS Dhoni, the India captain, was rightly lauded for his decision to spare Bell. His reward? A first-ball duck, and a side who capitulated without a whimper yesterday.

The day four action would not have been more one-sided had the International Cricket Council dream team that was selected two weeks earlier actually assembled, and then played to the peak of their powers against a Fujairah schoolgirls under 9s select XI.

England thrashed more than 100 runs in the first hour of the day's play. Broad, in particular, made hay against bowling which would have brought shame to a stooge bowling pies to set up a declaration in a charity match.

If that was not painful enough for the "Bharat Army" - India's vocal supporters - England's bowlers then hit upon a path of least resistance straight through the middle of the touring batting line up.

Tim Bresnan led the charge. It is a marker of England's bowling riches at present that a player who would not have played in this match had Chris Tremlett not fallen foul of injury on the eve of the game was significantly better than anything India had to offer.

In taking five wickets, Bresnan revealed an old flaw in India's batting. He bounced out Abinhav Mukund, Suresh Raina, Yuvraj Singh and Harbhajan Singh, suggesting that much still needs to be done to address India's short-ball problem.

For a little while it seemed as though Sachin Tendulkar was going to select the most ill-suited time ever to make his 100th international century. He has been stuck on 99 for a while now, but of all the places he could have reached his landmark, this would have ranked near the bottom.

During a World Cup final in his home city, or in a Lord's Test? Fair enough. A meaningless addendum to a woeful loss? No, thanks.

Tendulkar's fighting 56 was the lone voice of defiance as the Indians imploded, with James Anderson dismissing him for a seventh time in Tests.

They will at least be afforded some cheer today, with Virender Sehwag scheduled to land in England after recovering from injury.

Once the opener rejoins the squad Dhoni is backing his side to bounce back. "You are supposed to have belief in yourself and your team, and that [fight back] is what you have to do," the captain said.

pradley@thenational.ae


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