x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Number one priority can now become a reality for Pietersen

England's series-opening victory over India at Lord's has presented the home players with what they say could be their most crucial summer for six years.

Kevin Pietersen, centre, celebrates with James Anderson and Graeme Swann after the bowler took the wicket of India's Suresh Raina on Monday.
Kevin Pietersen, centre, celebrates with James Anderson and Graeme Swann after the bowler took the wicket of India's Suresh Raina on Monday.

LONDON // England's series-opening victory over India at Lord's has presented the home players with what they say could be their most crucial summer for six years.

Monday's convincing 196-run win sets up a real possibility that England could get the two-match winning margin it needs to unseat India at the top of the Test rankings, an achievement that man-of-the-match Kevin Pietersen said could be as important as winning the Ashes back from Australia was in 2005.

"Potentially, this is as big," he said after a record fifth-day attendance of 28,500 at Lord's. "You can see that from the number of people who turned up in the morning. As we drove here, the lads were commenting on the number of people outside. For us, as players, it's magnificent that the public think it's such a big series."

England won the Ashes for the first time in 18 years with a 2-1 victory in 2005 and has won three of the past four series against their old foes.

That sort of form has propelled England to third in the Test standings, within striking distance of India. The second Test begins on Friday, giving England the perfect opportunity to keep up momentum.

The short break should certainly help England, rather than injury-hit India.

The England and Wales Cricket Board picked an unchanged squad for the Trent Bridge Test, with the pace bowler Tim Bresnan included alongside the 11 players who excelled at Lord's.

But any changes to the attack are unlikely. James Anderson jumped to second place in the International Cricket Council's bowling rankings after his second-innings five for 65, while Chris Tremlett's four wickets took him up to a career-best ninth. With the spinner Graeme Swann in third place, England currently has three of the top 10 bowlers in world cricket, more than any other side.

"I think over the two innings that was as close to the perfect bowling performance we've had in the last two years," the England captain Andrew Strauss said.

* Associated Press