England completed the most comprehensive of victories on Saturday when they hammered India by an innings and 242 runs inside four days at Edgbaston.
The hosts margin of victory has increased throughout the series; a 196-run win in the first Test at Lord’s, a 319-run trouncing at Trent Bridge and now the killer blow in Birmingham.
In truth the hosts looked assured of victory at the close on day one, but nobody could have predicted the manner in which India would struggle in the proceeding two days. Day four proved no different.
James Anderson, who had struck on Friday with his second delivery of the innings to remove Virender Sehwag, ran through India’s top order in the morning session to leave MS Dhoni’s men on the brink.
The opening bowler claimed the wicket of Gautam Gambhir with his first delivery of the day before nailing two more victims in his opening spell to leave India in tatters on 116 for six at lunch, still 370 runs away from making the home side bat again.
Sachin Tendulkar was the only member of the top order to mount any resistance, but his knock was brought to an end by a cruel piece of misfortune.
Gambhir and Rahul Dravid returned to the crease at the beginning of the fourth morning with the tourists on 34 for one after Virender Sehwag’s king pair the evening before.
Anderson wasted absolutely no time in removing the left-handed, caught at slip by Graeme Swann.
Dravid followed two overs later with a disputed nick to Matt Prior – ‘The Wall’ was not convinced and replays suggested that he had in fact hit his shoe-lace and not the ball.
Shortly thereafter there was a genuine edge from VVS Laxman who became Anderson’s fourth victim before Swann got into the act with an impressive delivery that trapped Suresh Raina leg before.
Tendulkar however continued on his merry way despite all around him falling to pieces. He looked as compact and in control as ever as he carved eight boundaries in his knock.
India however were dealt a cruel blow when a drive from MS Dhoni ricocheted off Swann’s finger and into the stumps at the non-strikers end, with the third-umpire confirming that Tendulkar was out of his ground by a whisker.
Dhoni and Amit Mishra enjoyed a flutter after the lunch break, with the duo engaging in a spurt of aggression in the face of an inevitable result.
Mishra (22) was well caught at mid-on by Stuart Broad as he looked to attack Swann but his dismissal didn’t bring an end to the late assault.
Playing with the freedom not afforded to the genuine batsman, Praveen Kumar rebounded from a blow to the finger to hammer Swann around the park.
Dhoni got in on the act to propel India past the 200 mark but despite the lower-order antics, it was a matter of when rather then if England would wrap up the game.
Kumar (40) top edged a Broad delivery to Bopara at mid-off and Ishant Sharma followed soon after, falling lbw to Broad although replays showed the ball would have missed the stumps.
Sreesanth’s resistance was dogged yet never a danger and when a Tim Bresnan delivery jagged off the shoulder of the number eleven’s bat and into the hands of Kevin Pietersen, India’s misery was ended; on the field at least.
While the official rankings won’t be altered until after the series, England now leapfrog India into top spot on the ICCs Test ranking. A fact which while disappointing is the least of Duncan Fletcher’s worries.