England secured the two-match lead it needs to take cricket’s No. 1 Test ranking with a 319-run rout of an Indian team that had twice been in potentially game-winning positions.
After England racked up 544 to set India 478 for the victory yesterday, Tim Bresnan took 5-48 to help skittle the touring team for 158 on day four at Trent Bridge, Nottingham.
“It was an outstanding performance,” England captain Andrew Strauss said in a news conference. “We had to dig very deep; we were twice in a position where India looked very much like favorites to win the game, and we dragged it round.”
England rallied from 88-6 to post 221 after being sent in to bat on day one, and then took India’s last six wickets for 21 runs to trail by 67 runs on the first innings. Third-ranked England, which won the series opener by 196 runs, can overtake India atop the International Cricket Council’s rankings by winning the best-of-four contest by two Tests or more.
England’s lower-order batsman, led by Bresnan’s 90 from 118 balls, added 103 runs to the second-innings total in yesterday’s first session to put their team 477 runs ahead.
Stuart Broad and James Anderson dismissed Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman to leave India at 13-2. Bresnan, playing in place of the injured Chris Tremlett, then took his first five-wicket haul, including a mid-afternoon spell of 4-12, in elite Tests.
Anderson claimed 3-51, while Broad took 2-30 to finish with eight wickets along with his 108 runs. His all-round performance earned him the man-of-the-match award.
“Whoever we’re playing against we’ll always put up a good fight and look to grab the game by the scruff of the neck when that opportunity comes,” Broad told reporters. “We’ve done that particularly well in these two Test matches.”
Of India’s top seven batsman, only Sachin Tendulkar reached double figures yesterday with 56. Harbhajan Singh (46) and Praveen Kumar (25) were the only other batsman to score more than eight runs as India slumped to its heaviest runs defeat against England.
“In a situation like this what you want to do is be at your best as a team but we have not been really able to do that,” said India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni. “That’s the major difference between the two sides. We have some time to regroup, so hopefully we’ll be at our best for the next Test.”
India, which has eight days to reorganize before the series resumes at Edgbaston in Birmingham, hasn’t scored more than 300 in any of its innings in the first two matches.
Dhoni said opening batsman Virender Sehwag, who hasn’t played since having shoulder surgery in May, will join the squad before India’s two-day tour match against English county team Nottinghamshire, which starts Aug. 5.
“We’ll see how he goes in the practice game,” Dhoni said. “Hopefully he can come and give the strength that is needed. We all know what Virender Sehwag is capable of.”
Strauss, meantime, is already focused on the opening session at Edgbaston after England won two Tests in a home series against India for the first time since 1974.
Another victory, or two draws in the final two matches, will take Strauss’s team atop the Test rankings for the first time since they were introduced in 2003. England is a 1-7 chance to be ranked No. 1 at the end of the series, according to U.K. bookmaker William Hill Plc.
“All we’re looking to do is turn up at Edgbaston and try and win that Test match,” Strauss added. “We’ve had to work very hard for these two wins and we don’t expect anything different in the next game.”