India collapse like a house of cards in an earthquake as England complete a series whitewash.
Such has been the dominance of the England seamers, Graeme Swann had contributed relatively little to the series before this match: four wickets for 321 runs. However today he demonstrated why and how he is the world’s best spinner with long spells of fine bowling. Although India managed to bat until the afternoon before losing a wicket, he always threatened, particularly against Sachin Tendulkar, who was dropped off his bowling by Alastair Cook at short leg. Once the 144-run fourth wicket partnership had been broken when Swann bowled Amit Mishra, the rest of the wickets fell in an ungainly and embarrasing heap; the off spinner took four to finish with 6-103 and 9-208 in the match. In doing so, he passed 150 Test wickets and is now amongst the top 20 English Test wicket takers of all time.
The day was a tale of two sessions. In the morning, England toiled with no avail, although Tendulkar was dropped by both Cook and Matt Prior. A different side, for example the current India team or a dozen England teams from the 1990s, could have given up and accepted a draw. These players, under this leadership, are stronger-willed and more, much much more, able. They returned after lunch and kept attacking. Tendulkar could have been out twice more, both times LBW chances from a visibly frustrated Swann. But then, with that hundreth international hundred in sight, Bresnan returned for only his fourth over of the day. His first ball pitched straight and slid towards leg stump; Tendulkar mistimed a flick to square leg and the English team rose as one in a loud appeal. Many watchers – probably unfairly – would have not expected umpire Tucker to give him out for 91 when the decision was marginal (hawk-eye showed the ball to clip the bails, i.e. ‘umpire’s decision’), but the finger rose and India were suddenly 262/5. By the time Sreesanth was bowled by Swann, India had lost their final seven wickets for 21 runs.
England win the series 4-0. Stuart Broad and Rahul Dravid quite correctly are chosen as men of the series. As captain of the number one ranked team in the world, Andrew Strauss is presented with a mace, which he yields as if Clive Anderson has asked him to do some improv with a random prop. Andy Flower smiles and hugs and talks about hard work. Man of the match Ian Bell smiles and hugs talks about daddy hundreds. Graeme Swann and Jimmy Anderson continue their Eric and Ernie tribute act on the lap of honour. Rahul Dravid makes a wry wisecrack about how bad his teammates have been. And we sharpen our pencils, switch on our calculators and start work on our series review, to be published in the next few days.