x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Facile win over India but England not done yet

Visitors failed to show up for the third time in as many Tests, losing by an innings and 242 runs, as England become world No 1.

England players celebrate the innings victory over India after the dismissal of Sreesanth, the last wicket to fall in the third Test at Edgbaston.
England players celebrate the innings victory over India after the dismissal of Sreesanth, the last wicket to fall in the third Test at Edgbaston.

BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND // Edgbaston was given an unexpected boost as it staged a record attempt for the most people in fancy dress at a sports venue in the UK yesterday, when 11 men dressed in cricket whites pretended to be the Indian cricket team.

Their collective likeness to the world champion players was uncanny, but they were soon found out once the cricket started. They were clearly impostors.

It was a marker of how miserable summer it has been for India that they did not even come close to winning that competition, either.

A group of men dressed as hawks – Hawk-Eye, get it? – did instead.

Plus the blokes dressed as Indian cricketers actually turned out to be the real people, apparently. Not that they played anything like them.

England made their highest Test score since 1930 in the one innings they needed to win this game.

By contrast, India failed to reach 300 in either innings, and they have yet to do so in six trips to the wicket in this series.

After this latest crushing victory, England are now 3-0 up in the four Test series, and have thus assumed India's place at the top of the world Test rankings having barely broken sweat.

Andrew Strauss, the captain, said his side are proud of their achievement, but insisted they are not satisfied yet.

"We want to win every Test series we play," said Strauss, whose team have now won eight Test series out of nine, with the other a drawn series in South Africa.

"Getting to No 1 rewards consistency over a long period of time, and that has not always been a strength of English cricket. We are very proud of what we have achieved."

If India had any kernel of consolation from their drubbing here, it was the return to form with the bat for MS Dhoni, their captain, who made half-centuries in both innings.

However, it did little to paper over the cracks in India's decorated batting line-up, which were again exposed expertly by fine swing bowling from James Anderson.

Anderson picked up the first four wickets to fall, and the haul had an impressive pedigree: Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman. After that, Dhoni's brief resistance was futile.

"We have not been up to the mark in the series so far," Dhoni said. "It is a very difficult one to explain.

"I think it was a standard example of where we were outplayed by another international side.

"Most of the sessions were won by them, if you break the five day games down into small sessions, and more often than not we were outplayed in both the bowling and the batting departments."

England's win here was so facile, sewn up in the middle of the afternoon yesterday, that many of their followers hardly knew how to take it. The roars of delight when each wicket fell seemed to be quickly muted by the supporters thinking: "Well, we should be pleased, but we are not going to get our money's worth here."

That has been the theme of the series. The fans paid a premium to see the two biggest prizefighters in the Test game, but they have been short-changed.

While one of the protagonists has proved to be the real deal, the other turned out to be a street urchin who did not fancy the scrap.

India tried their best to submit, but England's bowlers would not let up, and just continued the pummelling. Praveen Kumar, India's standout bowler of the series, could miss the final Test at The Oval later this week after being smashed on the thumb.

Dhoni was twice hit on the thumb, too, while Sreesanth crumpled after being hit in the stomach by Stuart Broad.

The injuries will be hurting, but the insults for India's abject display should cut far more.

 

pradley@thenational.ae