England in India:Third Test

by Sampad Sengupta

After suffering defeat in the first Test, the England team have bounced back in style to register emphatic victories back to back against India, the latest being in the third Test match at Eden Gardens in Kolkata a few days ago. A brilliant team performance from England backed up by some very lacklustre cricket from India meant that England won by seven wickets on the final day, taking a 2-1 lead in the series.

There were a few changes to the sides as England brought in pace bowler Steven Finn to add some venom to their attack while Ian Bell returned to the middle-order. India brought in Ishant Sharma at the expense of Harbhajan Singh to restore some balance to a bowling attack which seemed out of sorts in the previous Test. Batting first, India struggled yet again, managing to put up only 316 runs which seemed inadequate on a pitch like this. There were not many substantial contributions throughout the innings as the England bowlers, led by Jimmy Anderson and Monty Panesar, dominated the play despite there being some signs of an Indian fight-back. England came out to bat, high on confidence, which was evident as they piled on the runs and took the lead. Once again leading the from the front was captain Alastair Cook, who scored his 23rd Test century (the most by any English batsman in Test cricket, overtaking the legendary Wally Hammond (OP)). He has now scored centuries in five consecutive Tests, creating a new world record.

If Indian supporters thought that their first innings performance was poor, they were in for more of the same in the second innings as they got bundled out for a meagre 247 which left England needing only 41 runs to secure a win. Nearly everything went wrong for India as all of their star batsmen failed to make any significant impact. If it weren’t for a fighting 91* from off-spinner Ashwin, they would have suffered an embarrassing innings defeat. England started off a bit shakily, losing 3 wickets for only 8 runs. Ian Bell then came in and steadied the ship, guiding them home safely.

This match marked England’s seventh victory over their opponents in the last 8 meetings. The match also showed that with the right intent and discipline, the quicker bowlers can also get some purchase out of the wickets, despite the spinners dominating the series so far. A heavy loss like this might just be what the doctor ordered for India, as this might lead them to make some necessary changes in the team, introducing some fresh faces and also a change in leadership perhaps. England on the other hand would be mighty pleased with their performance and the return to form of batsmen like Bell and Trott and Steven Finn’s decent show with the ball means that they are well and truly on their way to victory in the fourth and final Test.