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England managed to level the series with a comprehensive victory at Southampton. It was a complete performance from the side, but there were a few players who have vindicated the belief of the team management. Moeen Ali was terrific with the ball and Alastair Cook and Ian Bell bounced back with the bat. Nishad Pai Vaidya writes about the biggest gains from this victory for England.
It has taken England 10 Tests to register a victory after that infamous pee-gate incident at The Oval last year. The one-time leaders in the Test rankings were mediocre with Mitchell Johnson stunning them Down Under with raw pace, then the Sri Lankan spirit drowning them in the short series. India’s victory at Lord’s was a bit of a surprise, especially since Ishant Sharma bounced the hosts out. Social media credited karma for England’s woes: what goes around comes around? But, on the cricket field, the law of averages seems to be superior to that philosophy.
England’s woeful run had to end for they aren’t a poor side. Shaken by the Ashes debacle, they are in a phase of transition, with the youngsters gradually establishing themselves in the side. The struggles of the seniors in Ian Bell and Alastair Cook had been hurting them quite a lot. Stuart Broad and James Anderson, the other more senior men have been decent since the home season commenced. That punch was missing: Captain Cook wasn’t bringing in that winning mentality.
However, it has all turned around with this comprehensive victory. England’s management has been vindicated by standing by some of their decisions and backing them to come good. With all the pressure on this team to perform, they have shown great character to hit back with a victory. Cook, in particular, has shown good grit and guts to bounce back from that rut. There was intent and determination in his innings and though he had a bit of luck, what matters is the scoreboard: which shows Cook scoring 95 and 70.
The other thing that worked for England is Bell’s batting. Though he hasn’t looked out of touch, he was dismissed in that one moment of indiscretion: finding new ways to get out as he pointed out a few days ago. There were those drives off the front-foot, punches off the backfoot and the calm presence in the middle. All that was coupled with a bit of an attacking dash that helped him get those runs on the board.
The other man who stands vindicated is Moeen Ali. There was a lot of talk about England not playing a regular spinner and relying on Moeen’s part-time off-spin. But, Moeen did bowl well and hit the right areas on most occasions, Though the Indian batsmen also contributed to their downfall, Moeen should be given credit for this victory. This is also an eye-opener for the Indian batsmen!
England also had Gary Balance scoring a ton, Jos Buttler shinning on debut and Anderson bowling that amazing spell in the first innings. So, there has been good team-work from England and that has covered up for some minor slip-ups from their side. Cook would now be a relieved man for England have finally got one on the board!
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