England ended Sachin Tendulkar’s push for a 100th international century before wrapping up an innings victory over India in the final Test at the Oval to secure a sweep of the four-match series.
Tendulkar got within nine runs of the landmark when he was trapped leg-before-wicker by Tim Bresnan. He fell soon after Amit Mishra was bowled by Graeme Swann for 84. India collapsed to defeat, by an innings and 8 runs, following the pair’s dismissal.
Mishra and Tendulkar put together a fourth-wicket stand of 144. After their departure India added just 21 to give England its second innings victory in a row in a series where India failed to find any form. England’s narrowest victory margin was by 196 runs in the first Test at Lord’s.
A sixth straight series victory means England becomes the fourth country to hold the top spot since the International Cricket Council introduced the current rankings in 2003, after Australia, South Africa and India, which drops two places to number three.
“They deservedly are the No. 1 side in the world,” Rahul Dravid, India’s highest run-scorer of the series, said during the post-match presentation ceremony. “They played really well in the series and they outplayed us.”
Swann got nine wickets in the match, including six in the second innings, as India failed to make England bat again. The home team, led by Ian Bell’s 235 and Kevin Pietersen’s 175, declared at 591-6 before bowling India out for 300 and 283.
“ I thought he toiled away brilliantly, he had to work hard for his wickets but he was supported well by the seamers,” captain Andrew Strauss said when asked about Swann’s efforts.
England has won 21 Test matches under the partnership of Strauss and coach Andy Flower. The two came together when England was ranked No. 6 in the world and had been bowled out for 51 in a Test match against the West Indies in Jamaica in 2009. Since then England has climbed the rankings and secured memorable victories including winning and then retaining the Ashes against Australia.
“The players have worked extremely hard to get the skills to where they are, to get their conditioning up to where it is and this is a reward for their efforts,” Flower said.
India came into the series with many commentators expecting its batsmen to engage the English bowling attack in a close battle. That didn’t happen, and the team reached 300 runs once, with only Dravid performing consistently. He scored a team high 461 at an average of 76.83.
“It’s a bittersweet feeling,” he said. “It gives you a certain sense of personal satisfaction but I know we could have played better here.”
Tendulkar and Mishra got to lunch unscathed today and India looked like they might post a score that would require England to bat again. Both of them fell with the score on 262 and England pressed for victory by taking five wickets for seven runs. Swann got Gautam Gambhir before wrapping up the win by bowling Sreesanth with a well-flighted delivery.
India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni said he expects to be criticized when his team returns home. He vowed to carry on in the role.
“It’s important to stay together as a team, stay together as a unit,” he said. “The expectations are quite high in India but it’s about the team sticking together.”
The teams will now face off in a Twenty20 match and five one-day international games. India won the Cricket World Cup, a one-day competition, earlier this year.