The Indian defeat was imminent but the expected fight never materialised till they had lost seven of their top-order wickets. Praveen Kumar entertained while he lasted, MS Dhoni reaped the fruits of an aggressive outlook but it wasn’t enough to prevent India from going down by an innings and 242 runs in the third Test match at Birmingham.
With the match, England also won the series and the top ranking in the Test match world. India, who were at the top of the heap before the start of the series will now go down to the second spot.
India had begun the day needing 451 runs to make the opposition bat again with nine wickets standing, a rather improbable task given that India hadn’t got even 300 in any of the previous innings.
What the fans would have definitely expected is a better fight of it, but the James Anderson was much the better bowler on the day. It took Anderson only one ball to strike on the fourth day; Gautam Gambhir dismissed off the first ball he faced as he edged it to the slips.
Rahul Dravid followed soon after in Anderson’s next over, although in bizarre circumstances. He seemed to have edged one to the wicket-keeper, and the umpire gave him out. However, on looking at the replays, it came out that the bat had actually brushed his shoelaces while missing the ball completely; the contact making the sound. However, Dravid did not opt to use the review system, something that would have saved him.
The rest of the top-order caved in much like they had done in the previous games. VVS Laxman barely looked comfortable in his 20-ball stay at the crease, before getting dismissed off the 21st, while Suresh Raina was sent back lbw to Graeme Swann. Sachin Tendulkar had survived the English onslaught and got to an attractive 40 before being unluckily run-out off the bowler’s finger through to the non-striker’s stumps. It was a distinct pointer to the Indian plight in the series.
India went into lunch at 116 for six, but lost Amit Mishra soon after the break before the beginning of some fun.
It was the eighth wicket partnership between Indian skipper MS Dhoni and Praveen Kumar that had saved the Indian blushes in the first innings and they conspired to take the side away from their heaviest defeat in the history of cricket. Praveen lasted all of 18 balls, but in those three overs, he had done enough to mess up some of Swann’s figures. There were three sixes, including one that spilled some precious crowd beer, and five fours punctuating the knock as the duo added 75 in only 45 deliveries.
But all good things need to come end one day and Praveen’s knock of 40 was ended by a Stuart Broad-bouncer. He got the better of Ishant Sharma as well and Tim Bresnan completed the last rites by sending S Sreesanth back with Dhoni remaining unbeaten on 74.
England now lead the four-match series 3-0, with the fourth game to be played at Oval.