England have outcricketed India from the moment MS Dhoni won the toss in Mumbai and there was to be no let up on the final day of the series. The home side seemed to have given up the ghost long before this Test even began yet their attitude throughout England’s second innings was still surprisingly poor. One imagines, were the situation reversed, England would not have wilted so quickly.
The post-mortem can wait, or, at least, will wait until the 51allout Christmas week of doom, but it’s safe to say that India probably need to ask Santa for a new drawing board. They were not particularly bad in Nagpur, rather let down by a terrible pitch, and there were some positive signs; Dhoni’s batting improved as the series went on, Virat Kohli finally remembered what batting is and Ravi Jadeja took the side’s dreaminess levels up a notch or ten. The problem is despite that they were never close to getting anything from the final game. The pitch was awful, undoubtedly, but the pitch was not responsible for a staggering lack of intent on display. From England, that was to be expected given the series situation. From India it was unforgivable.
As for the tourists, this Test and in particular its final day were everything they were dreaming of on Thursday morning. Well as their spinners bowled on a raging bunsen in Mumbai, they would not have wanted their batsmen to be under pressure again on a pitch like that. Kevin Pietersen and Alastair Cook are really, really, really, REALLY good, but they would have been hard pressed to bat as brilliantly in Nagpur. Instead they were allowed to coast for the most part and even their two least well run endowed players made big contributions at last. They would be secretly fancying themselves for a clean sweep of the T20 and ODI series as well with this momentum had they bothered to pick any of their proper team.
We spend most of our time being scathingly cynical about anything and everything, and we have been particularly critical of the England team in 2012, but this series win was one of the most impressive we have ever seen. Letting you into a little secret; they are not the greatest team in the world once again*, despite our new default position for the next decade. There are still some problems they need to sort out and this Indian side is not a brilliant one, yet they turned around a 1-0 deficit in conditions in which they usually beat themselves before they even start. We doff our caps and raise our jug of gin to them.