Friday 6 December 2019

England charge towards world's summit


Derek Pringle

The 2000th Test at Lord's proved a fitting spectacle of the milestone as England won it deep into the last session of the match.

But Andrew Strauss' side have a much narrower focus than celebrating the game's oldest format, and that is to usurp India as the No 1 Test team. This deserved win, by 196 runs, was a significant stepping stone in the process.

Lord's was still filled to the brim to see a rejuvenated Stuart Broad deliver the coup de grace when he had Ishant Sharma lbw shortly after 5.20, to one that might have taken the edge of his bat.

Only half of a packed Lord's stood in celebration though, India being well represented enough for some of their supporters to have been queuing for tickets at 2.0am.

If Sharma's lbw did involve a bit of wood, even having Hawkeye -- the part of the Decision Review System banned from this series after India's objections to it -- would not have helped them. Sachin Tendulkar and Suresh Raina, India's best player yesterday with 78, had been given not out to lbw appeals that would have been overturned by DRS.

The better team won and England, despite fluffing four catches, were hugely impressive in taking the honours. Their pack mentality was so focused that even India's experienced veterans could not prevent it from running them down.

Not everything went to plan during the match. There was a wobble in their second innings, when they found themselves 62-5. But whereas such jeopardy would previously have floored them, they have so much belief and quality running through the team that such setbacks become mere aberrations.

James Anderson starred on the final day with 5-65, his victims possessing 103 Test hundreds between them.

Anderson usually thrives at Lord's but before yesterday he'd never taken more than two wickets in the second innings here -- which suggests he has improved his bowling on the drier, less bowler-friendly surfaces that tend to prevail in the latter half of the game.

India were hobbled by injury and illness to key players during this match, but the way Strauss' men went about the business, once an advantage had been won, revealed their hunger for victory had not been dulled by their Ashes heroics in the winter.

This England side, following their first successful step towards the two-win cushion needed to take them top of the rankings, have the steely-eyed look of those with a mission to accomplish. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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