England v India, 3rd npower Test, Edgbaston, 1st day August 10, 2011

England's bowlers bury India

In keeping with their current reputation, England's bowlers were relentless in their pursuit of breakthroughs, even on a wicket that proved to be a lot less responsive than might have been expected

There's surely no way back into the series for India now. At Lord's and Trent Bridge, they held the upper hand for sessions at a time, only for England's force majeure to snatch the ascendancy from their grasp. Today at Edgbaston, on the other hand, they were not allowed even to pretend they had control, as two grievous blows at either end of the morning session condemned their batsman to their fifth consecutive sub-300 total. They now face the prospect of a long stint in the field against an opposition who have the No. 1 ranking in their grasp, and show no signs whatsoever of relinquishing it.

If Virender Sehwag's first-ball dismissal was the sort of accident that can happen to opening batsmen, particularly those returning from a three-month lay-off, then Rahul Dravid's detonation, right on the stroke of lunch, was a different entity entirely. Tim Bresnan is not the sort of chap with whom you'd normally associate such flashes of inspiration, but when he pegged back Dravid's off stump with a ball he's only ever bettered "in the nets", he confirmed the old truism that practice makes perfect.

"Like my old coach Steve Oldham used to say, 'top of off kid, and just land it on the seam'," said Bresnan. "It does work, because if you just hang in them areas long enough, you're going to get balls to just go like that."

In keeping with their current reputation, England's bowlers were relentless in their pursuit of breakthroughs, even on a wicket that proved to be a lot less responsive than might have been expected with a healthy grass covering and a heavy cloud cover. "It swung a bit, but not like Trent Bridge," said Bresnan. "We expected it to be a bit quicker and maybe seam a little bit more than it actually did, but as a seamer you look at the wicket and think 'yeah, I'd prefer to bowl on that now rather than later when it's flattened out'."

Chris Tremlett's ongoing back problems spared the selectors an awkward decision in the build-up to this Test, but even if he'd been fit, it's doubtful whether he'd have done a better job than Bresnan - a bowler who is now forging a reputation as England's slow wicket specialist. From the featherbeds of Bangladesh via a pudding at the MCG, he's showcased the stamina and discipline to harry his opponents into errors, as well the flashes of brilliance that ensure no-one dare to take him for any liberties. It was a loose drive from Gautam Gambhir that set India's collapse in motion, but as with the Dravid jaffa, that very moment was the product first and foremost of tenacity.

That tenacity extends to the whole of England's seam attack, for there is no weak link at present. James Anderson topped and tailed the innings to deny Bresnan and Broad a shot at their fifth wicket of the day, but given that he came into the contest as a reserve, Bresnan could hardly feel short-changed by a tally of nine wickets in two innings. "It is nice that the wickets were shared around a bit," he said. "It has definitely got the hunting-in-the-pack mentality to it. We do enjoy each other's success, which is great for going forward with team spirit."

India's coach, Duncan Fletcher, can only look on ruefully. In his seven years with England, Fletcher became accustomed to dominance on English soil, with the Ashes defeat of 2001 his only series loss in this country. Right now, however, he's more or less resigned to another dent in that record, for today's events had the same sort of one-sided feel as that rubber. Australia's spearheads on that trip were Glenn McGrath and Jason Gillespie, two men whose methods also centred around constriction.

"They are bowling well as a unit, they have good back-up, and they've been effective as we can see from the way they have performed," said Fletcher. "They are a good combination, they hunt in a pack well, which is very, very important, and they've got a good intensity. And they've really been helped by the conditions, by the way it has swung and seamed."

Fletcher's last point is debatable, however, for this was not a wicket that screeched with demons. It did not zip round corners to anything like the extent witnessed on the first morning at Trent Bridge, which meant that the parallels between England's recovery from 124 for 8 on that occasion and India's recovery from 111 for 7 weren't entirely applicable. Whereas England's collapse had been dramatic but understandable, India's really should not have happened in the first place.

"We are not naive enough to think that there was not going to be a partnership," said Bresnan of the stand between MS Dhoni and Praveen Kumar that spared a few of India's blushes. "It doesn't happen every time, that you blitz out their tail. Just because it happened twice at Trent Bridge is not to say the tail won't wag a little bit. From experience as the ball gets little older and softer, the wicket starts to do a little bit less, so you can't really rough them up, and it does get a little bit easier to bat."

That point was amply demonstrated in the final session, as Alastair Cook and Andrew Strauss reminded India's batsmen what it takes to tough it out in Test cricket. Both men have been in ropey form this series, but each found a tempo to suit their personal circumstances, with Cook concentrating on rediscovering that judgment outside off stump that had driven the Aussies to distraction, and Strauss taking a more aggressive approach to batter ten boundaries in his first home half-century since the corresponding Test last summer.

"It was a great day of Test cricket for us," said Bresnan. "To stick 'em in, bowl 'em out, and be 80 for 0, we'd take that at the start of play. I know that sounds like a massive cliché but it's definitely true."

Andrew Miller is UK editor of ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on August 12, 2011, 14:02 GMT

    it is a good performance by English team under(read English conditions)... as far as no 1 slot is concerned both teams are incapable of it....still cant forget how english were royally massacred by Srilanka in WC semifinal....long way to go...(doubt broad and company would be effective in Indian conditions)...but for now England should enjoy while the sun is shining ...

  • Neil on August 12, 2011, 1:35 GMT

    @ Iyer. Lol. If only you could turn back time...

    "Their (Englands) top order batting is a concern" Alastair Cook (unbeaten 182, a 19th Test hundred) added 187 for the first wicket alongside Andrew Strauss (87).

    "Let us not forget their first two victories were driven by performance by tail enders and not due to their top order batting." Having a tail that bats down to no. 10 is a weakness? Hmmm. If only India had such strength in depth.

    "England is not playing at the level of world number 1" India (the current no.1) can't even score 300. The batting line-up was hailed as the best in the world and they have been crushed and totally embarrassed. England have chalked up 4 x 100s - 3 x 150+; India has managed just 2 x 100s England has notched up 10 x 50s; India just 6 England bolwers have taken 46 wkts; India just 31 India fielding has been appalling as has Dhoni's captaincy.

    In short, India have been totally and utterly outlclassed in every department.

  • Dummy4 on August 11, 2011, 13:46 GMT

    All those who are calling for indian fans, here I am and I agree that england have been a better team in this series by far margin, however calling england as the next great team will be a bit too early, I feel they will be out of top spot soon, only SA looks like capable of staying there for long period. As dar as indian team, I am disappointed and sad.All those who are calling for indian fans, here I am and I agree that england have been a better team in this series by far margin, however calling england as the next great team will be a bit too early, I feel they will be out of top spot soon, only SA looks like capable of staying there for long period. As dar as indian team, I am disappointed and sad.

  • Shantanu on August 11, 2011, 13:09 GMT

    Englishmen are bowling well but they are made to look more potent by Indian batting. There has been a talk of more practice games for India when they tour abroad. I'm all for it as youngsters and those touring for first time do get used to conditions. I doubt if couple of practice games would have made any difference in this tour as except Dravid Indian experienced batters have failed. But BCCI should ask for a few games in Australia. Ganguly on ESPN commentary team thought India should have batted first in first two tests. I think those matches then would have got over in 3 days. The way England is batting here 5th day would come into play only if Indian batting changes dramatically.

  • Roshini on August 11, 2011, 12:41 GMT

    OMG!!!! What is happening to worlds no # 1 test team and where are the so called God's and Demi God's who were pre hyped to give England a great hiding in this series. I think even the supporters have gone silent for not being able to prevent losing the test supremacy.

  • Dummy4 on August 11, 2011, 12:39 GMT

    England has played extremely well...but honestly india are themselves to blame in both the test matches there were in position to dictate terms but they let it slip away...or call it luck...they could have been 2-0 up...so i wont be too critical ..things that put apart both teams ..first the form of batsmen...sadly all indians are failing...they need a collective effort...secondly the lower order ..england bat down till number 10 and those batsmen are ideal for test cricket...as they can take their own time to settle..i doubt they would be effective in shorter format as would be under pressure to score quickly...and i dont see indian lower order improving in their batting...had it been sub continent i would have given them a chance..but it wont be fair in england when even the top order batsmen have struggled...and i do think we require some fresh faces...some people say pujara...but seeing him in south africa im not too convinced he could have done any better here.

  • Dummy4 on August 11, 2011, 12:24 GMT

    india was absolutely poor in thier approach ,v sehwag wat a waste of a talent !!!

  • Khalid Arif on August 11, 2011, 12:21 GMT

    Sachin fails again to help India win or even save India. A very talked about series and an important one too but Sachin as usual failed to bat for India. I guess Imran was right when he said that Sachin's battiinh has never helped India. All his centuries and batting records has never helped win matches instead has only resulted in piling up personal records for himself.

  • Dummy4 on August 11, 2011, 12:20 GMT

    Haha India this is just a preview of things to come over the next few years when Tendulkar, Dravid and Laxman retire. You can carry on all you want about how good Tendulkar is but he's not going to be around forever. If India has proved anything it's that they have overachieved with this current crop of players and have become number1 by luck rather than outright brilliance and consistency.

  • Dummy4 on August 11, 2011, 12:13 GMT

    No excuses any more from us Indian fans, please. We are totally humiliated by these 'performances' - the batting has been spineless, the bowling, without Zaheer, is toothless (as was expected by all except us on-eyed Indian fans) and the fielding has been pathetic. It has been a very very very embarrassing month for us, and its not over yet. England deserve to be No1. Me thinks, the time to congratulate Team England has arrived. All of us Indian fans, bitterly hurt as we are, must applaud an England team which has played superbly throughout(and more or less wiped the floor with us)! Well done, England.

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