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England bounced back in a spectacular manner at Southampton to smash India by 266 runs in the third Test, and thus level the five-match Test series. Devarchit Varma brings the highlights of England’s much-awaited win in Test cricket.
England slammed India by a huge margin of 266 runs on the final day to end their dry spell in Test cricket. It was an all-round performance by the Alastair Cook-led side, especially given the fact that they were grappling with far too many issues in the build-up for this Test match. Moeen Ali and James Anderson starred for England with the ball in the second innings, but it was their batting performance that put them ahead of India. So much so that India could never match them in any of the sessions on all five days. Moeen emerged as the best bowler in the Test match alongside Anderson, and it was his burst on the fourth day evening that gave England the big wickets of the Indian batting line-up. Anderson was at his best, and despite dropping two chances off his own bowling on the fourth day he ensured that England stayed ahead in the game on the final day as well.
But it was Cook’s gritty knock of 95, Gary Ballance’s 156, and Ian Bell’s 167 that actually gave England that platform from where they could dominate the game. Combined with irresponsible batting performance by the Indians, they managed to win the Test. Let’s go through the highlights of the third Test match at Southampton:
Alastair Cook sets the game for England: Cook finally came to his usual self. But perhaps, it was the dropped chance by Ravindra Jadeja off Pankaj Singh that gave him the sign that his time had come. After a horrendous spell, Cook batted well. Signs were ominous of a good knock from the English captain in the second Test itself when Cook started to watch the ball really well, and it was at Southampton that his A game came forward. Though there was that minor blip (lifeline given by Jadeja), Cook ensured that he did not give anything more to the Indians. He was unfortunate to have missed out on a deserving century, but he had done enough for others like Bell to bat well. Cook’s knock set the tone early for England.
Gary Ballance making most of the fantastic form: Ballance has been in terrific touch since his debut, and his good form has somewhat addressed England’s continuous slump. He joined forces with Cook at a crucial stage, and his domination continued over the Indian bowlers.
Ian Bell gets back to form: Bell made most of the platform provided by Ballance and Cook, and shrugged off the poor run with the bat to notch a high score. He did get a lifeline, with umpire not declaring him out leg-before on Day One, and Bell started off the next day on a great note. England would be pleased to see their senior batsmen back among run-scorers.
James Anderson’s party: Anderson turned 32 during the Test match, and he celebrated it with a match-winning performance for England. Anderson claimed five wickets in the first innings and two in the second, as he guided England to a memorable win. Anderson would be appearing for an International Cricket Council (ICC) hearing for his alleged spat with Ravindra Jadeja, and it still remains to be seen what the future holds for the England pace spearhead.
Moeen Ali’s match-winning spell: Not many people would have expected a certain Moeen to run through the famed Indian batting line-up that is not known to struggle against spin bowling. But Moeen, literally, ran-through the Indians in the second innings, taking as many as six wickets on a benign track and playing a major role in England’s huge win.
India’s over-confidence or complacency? India were 1-0 up in an overseas Test series five days ago. But now, they have lost all ground to England. Things are back to square one with the two teams now expectedly taking it as a two-match Test series. From India’s perspective, it was surprising to see the slip after that memorable win at Lord’s. They somewhat took the England spinners; Moeen and Joe Root lightly, and went for their strokes when it was not needed. With the ball, India weren’t able to go past seven England batsmen, while their opponents were able to snaffle all 20 wickets.
Ajinkya Rahane’s resilience: Among the few positives from this game, it would be heartening for the Indians to see Rahane’s continuous growth in Test cricket. He has been among the run-scorers in overseas matches for quite some time now and it is time India start seeing him as one of their batting mainstays.
Pankaj Singh’s unfortunate debut: Pankaj’s figures in the Test match would indicate that he had a bad game, but he didn’t really bowl that bad. He created opportunities — but was not fortunate enough to take his maiden wicket in Test cricket.
(Devarchit Varma is a reporter with CricketCountry. He can be followed on Twitter @Devarchit)
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