England produced a disciplined and determined bowling display at Lord’s on Monday to dismiss the world’s most talented batting lineup for the second time and win their 100th Test against India by 196 runs.
James Anderson was the home side’s hero on the final day of the first Test with five for 65, including the wickets of Rahul Dravid (36), V.V.S. Laxman (56) and Sachin Tendulkar (12).
The trio has accumulated more than 35,000 Test runs between them for the world’s top-ranked side, with Tendulkar holding the world record of 14,738.
Captain Andrew Strauss preferred to praise the overall contribution of Anderson, Chris Tremlett, Stuart Broad and Graeme Swann rather than dwell on individuals.
“I think over the two innings it was as close to the perfect bowling performance as we have had in the last two years,” Strauss said. “That’s saying a lot because we have bowled exceptionally well quite consistently.”
Spectators lined-up throughout the early hours of the morning for the last day of the 2,000th Test, with 20,000 tickets available for the last rites of a consistently engrossing match.
More than 25,000 people crammed into the game’s world headquarters in addition to the Marylebone Cricket Club members, with support equally divided for England and India.
“I think it was a great atmosphere,” Strauss said. “You expect Indians to have a lot of support over here and it was fantastic. I think there was a lot of support for us as well.”
“That added to the mix, we all appreciate playing Test matches in front of full houses. It makes you feel that you are doing something important, it makes you feel that every wicket you take, every run you score is appreciated by someone,” he added. “The more crowds we have over the course of the summer the better not just for us, but for the future of Test cricket.”
As it had been in the World Cup final in Mumbai on April 2, the stage was set for the greatest batsman of modern times to complete 100 international centuries.
Once again, though, Tendulkar failed to deliver, extending instead his mystifyingly mediocre record at Lord’s. Tendulkar made 18 in Mumbai, albeit in a winning cause, and 34 in the first innings at Lord’s on Saturday.
Still feeling the effects of a virus, which kept him off the field for most of Sunday, he was all but strokeless on Monday, laboring for 85 minutes for 12 runs.
He survived an appeal for LBW on 11 when the ball looked to have hit straight in front of the stumps and was dropped on 12 by Strauss at first slip, the second lapse by the England skipper.
“He [Tendulkar] felt weak after the first innings,” India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni said. “He’s much better now, but I wouldn’t say he’s 100 percent.”
By the time Tendulkar had arrived at the crease, India were already rocking after Dravid was out LBW to Anderson, having added just one to his overnight total.
With three Tests remaining in the series, followed by five one-day matches and a tour of Australia to follow this year, Tendulkar will assuredly reach a landmark unlikely to be equaled. However, at the age of 38, it will not now come at Lord’s where his Test average is 21.66, compared with an overall 56.68.
Strauss said before the match that he thought England were ready to assume the mantle of world Test champions. They will overtake India in the rankings if they win the series by at least a two-match margin.
“To be the No. 1 side in the world, you have to grab opportunities,” he said on Monday. “I think we did that very well in this game, but it’s the first match in a four-match series so we can’t get carried away.”
Dhoni, who hit an unbeaten 91 in the World Cup final against Sri Lanka and who has yet to lose a Test series as captain, said the loss of his leading strike bowler Zaheer Khan with a hamstring injury on the opening day had been crucial.
“It became quite tough for us to manage the bowlers after losing Zaheer,” he said. “It was very difficult for us to maneuver with three bowlers. We didn’t have too many options.”
Dhoni said uneven bounce on Monday had troubled his batsmen, while he had also been forced to change his batting order. Dravid opened the batting in place of Gambhir, who had suffered a painful blow on his elbow while fielding, and Tendulkar came in at No. 5 instead of No. 4.
“It was tough for the batsmen and most of them were batting in different slots. I think that also added pressure,” Dravid said.
The teams have only three days off before the second Test begins at Trent Bridge in Nottingham, England, on Friday. The third is scheduled for Edgbaston and the series concludes at The Oval in the London district of Kennington.
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