England not over-excited by 1st test win in year
SOUTHAMPTON, England (AP) — With an emphatic end to its worst run of test cricket results in 28 years, England wasn’t quite ready to herald a turning point in the new era or say a home series victory against India was within reach.
Not after a winless streak of seven losses and three draws since August last year.
England wrapped up the third test at the Rose Bowl on the last morning on Thursday, taking the last six wickets in 25 overs to bowl out India for 178 and win by 266 runs.
Two of England’s most criticized stars produced: Alastair Cook, his captaincy and position on the line, unfurled 165 runs and was vibrant and clever on the field, and strike bowler James Anderson took seven wickets to become leading wicket-taker in the series. There was a bonus, as part-time offspinner Moeen Ali took 6-67 in the second innings to fill the hole left by the retired Graeme Swann.
“It’s a very small step. It’s only one win,” Cook said. “We’ll enjoy the feeling - someone told me its 353 days since the last one. That’s a very long time.”
It added up to a series tied at 1-1 with two to go, and England immediately named an unchanged squad for the fourth test at Old Trafford, starting in a week.
But just when England’s spirits were soaring, celebrations could be muted within 24 hours when Anderson faces an International Cricket Council judicial hearing on a charge of pushing and abusing India allrounder Ravindra Jadeja during the first test three weeks ago.
Anderson faces a ban of up to four tests. If he is banned, England’s chances of beating India again will nosedive.
“I just hope common sense prevails,” Cook said. “I hope we’ll see Jimmy at Old Trafford in his home test.”
England won this test thanks to the first-innings knock of 569-7 declared against poor India fielding. India’s batting reply cracked under the pressure twice.
“We played to our potential for a long period of time,” Cook said. “The scoreboard pressure talked, we had as good a game as you can have. That is the standard we can set ourselves as a team.”
Already in a deep hole at 112-4 overnight, India lost more early wickets and the necessary desire to bat out the fifth day for a draw.
Anderson removed Rohit Sharma for 6 with his third ball of the day, and captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni in his third over for 6, too.
Ali then cleaned up the tail, giving him 15 wickets for the series, second overall only to Anderson, and tied with India’s Bhuvneshwar Kumar.
Cook, who was reluctant to bowl Ali in the lost Sri Lanka series last month, praised him.
“His level of improvement as a bowler, I haven’t seen in such a short space of time,” Cook said. “To adjust from bowling county cricket to a holding role at international cricket with the lengths you have to bowl, the lines, the speed, he has learnt really well. When he got on a wicket that spun a bit, he proved he is an attacking option as well.”
Ajinkya Rahane was left stranded on 52 not out, his second half century of the test, and Dhoni was frustrated that a team usually adept at playing spinners was so poor against Ali’s offspin.
“We let Moeen bowl his line and length,” Dhoni said. “There was a considerable amount of wear and tear which meant if you keep playing him one odd ball will turn, and with so many catching fielders around, you will lose your wicket.”