ENGLAND won the fourth Investec Test match by an innings and 54 runs and now have complete control of this series.
It was a superb victory but, in truth, India have been abject at Old Trafford and have capitulated in both innings in derisory fashion. The final session last night brought nine wickets suggesting that their fighting spirit has been spent in off field squabbles and trying to force the governing body, the ICC into doing their will but where it matters most, on the pitch, they have been severely found wanting. There can be no hiding from that.
Currently, they look like a team mentally already on the plane home which is extraordinary considering their excellent performance at Lord’s three weeks ago.
They were 1-0 up in the series but since the Trent Bridge fiasco which resulted in an unseemly hearing and accusations, India have wilted both as a team and as individuals. Old Trafford was always likely to favour the home bowlers but that does not excuse the collapses that have scuppered both Indian innings.
Yesterday they lost five wickets in 25 balls as they went from a steady 53-1 to 66-6.
These were top order batsmen that knew they had to bat time, that Stuart Broad, their tormentor in the first innings was missing at hospital having an X-ray after taking a nasty blow to the head when batting and that Hurricane Bertha, the media’s favourite current story, is expected to arrive in the north-west tomorrow and deliver rain in two days that would frighten Noah.
They had to show the requisite stomach for the fight and trust proper batting technique. Both were absent from most in the first innings as they stuttered to 8-4 with only MS Dhoni proving combative.
Yesterday after England had pressed forward in the morning via excellent innings by Joe Root and Jos Buttler to a lead of 215 the likes of Gautam Gambhir, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane had to deliver something to bolster their team. They all failed to a mixture of Anderson, and how he will be enjoying their discomfort, and Moeen Ali.
For supposed masterful players of spin they have made Ali look a world class bowler. However this is a case where reputations have been given rather than earned. Since 2011 only Dhoni of the Indian batters has averaged above 40 against off-spin. The rest are nearer 20 which is very poor.
Interestingly Ali puts his recent success down to increasing his speed for Test matches so he now delivers the majority of his balls above 55 miles per hour compared to his more usual 50 mph. Whatever he has done though he should not be tormenting the Indian batsmen as much as he is.
The damaging sequence in the final sessions was started when Gambhir, never the most confident against the short ball directed at his body fended and gloved a catch to Buttler off Anderson.
Next delivery Pujara was out leg before to Ali and the ground was buzzing. It was a poor decision but India are the country that refuse to use DRS so they can have no complaints. It was high, which considering the big stride Pujara got in was not surprising and it was exactly the kind of poor decision DRS was meant to rectify.
Rahane then chipped a catch back to Ali, Kohli edged Anderson and is clearly clueless against the Lancastrian, Ravindra Jadeja edged Ali to slip and then Dhoni, attempting to hit some momentum back into the innings was caught magnificently at midwicket by Gary Ballance off the same bowler.
It was game over in that mad 40 minutes with only the last rites remaining and Chris Jordan duly delivered those with the two final wickets in consecutive balls. For a few Indians maybe they are learning that for all the million dollar contracts in the IPL T20 competition, they are not actually that good.
England are in a completely different place.
After Lord’s, Alastair Cook was one match from the sack. Now he has led the team to consecutive victories and is enjoying an opposition that just cannot or will not compete.
There are still issues for he and coach Peter Moores to address but there is also plenty to encourage, not least the rapid improvement in Ali as an off-spinner. He has 19 wickets in the series, only two fewer than Anderson and is proving a swift learner, as his adjustment in pace shows.
Both teams have a few days off now until the final Test starting on Friday. India need to discover some resolve with the bat as in both innings combined they failed to bat 90 overs.
That is the real issue facing India, not the fact that Anderson has been too fruity with some choice language.