Alastair Cook praised England's character after they produced one of their finest Test victories in recent memory to level the series against India with a 10-wicket success in Mumbai.

The win was all the more remarkable for coming off the back of the nine-wicket hammering they suffered in Ahmedabad last week when the pre-series predictions of England struggling to take wickets and battling against India's spinners came true. However, they have turned their fortunes around, overcoming the home side before lunch on the fourth day, to keep alive their chance of a first series victory in India since 1985.

"It was a tough week up in Ahmedabad and the character we have shown in the last three days has been fantastic," Cook said at the presentation. "I just can't fault the effort from the lads and the performance they have put in."

England also won the Test the hard way having lost the toss on a pitch seemingly tailor-made for India's spinners, yet they were comprehensively outbowled by Monty Panesar and Graeme Swann who combined for 19 wickets in the match with Panesar claiming a career-best 11 for 210.

When India fought their way to 327 on the second morning it was expected to be a very challenging total on a surface already gripping, but Kevin Pietersen produced arguably his finest Test innings, a scintillating 186, to secure a priceless lead of 86.

"It was an important toss, but the way we bowled on the first day was fantastic and then the way Kevin took the game away from India - to get an 80-run lead was vital," Cook said. "It was a fantastic innings and great to watch from the other end. We could almost have got more of a lead in the end. But the way Swanny and Monty bowled in the second innings when the pressure was on, to not let India get away, was fantastic."

When talking about his innings on the third evening, Pietersen was guarded in ranking its significance, well aware that the job was not quite finished for England. With victory completed he was more verbose but was just as quick to praise his team-mates.

"Now that we've won, probably at the top," he said of where the innings stands. "Yesterday I said it was a situation where we needed to win the Test match and hundreds feel a lot better when you win. Panesar and Swann were outstanding in the second innings, and Cooky didn't talk about himself but he's a magnificent cricketer. He'll break every England record. We came to Mumbai, trained hard and worked hard. There's a good united spirit in the dressing room."

For a couple of months at the end of England's home season that united dressing appeared a long way away but a working relationship has been restored and a matchwinning hundred will keep the process moving the right away.

"Thanks to the guys in the dressing room, the management, for sorting everything out," Pietersen said. "Every day you put on an England jersey is a special day and we are so privileged as England cricketers. The spectators that travel around with us are magnificent and we couldn't achieve things without them. Also the Indian support, it's been brilliant and long may that continue."