England romp to victory

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Andrew Flintoff & Shaun Udal

Andrew Flintoff and Shaun Udal after Sachin Tendulkar's dismissal © Getty Images

England swept to a pulsating 212-run victory over India in the third and final Test at Mumbai to level the series.

Shaun Udal picked up four quick wickets late on as India, set a notional 313 to win, were bowled out for 100 inside 49 overs.

A tense finish - all results were possible going into the fifth day - failed to materialise, with England romping to victory less than an hour and a half after lunch.

India lost their last seven wickets for just 25 runs amid a flurry of rash shots, though that should not deflect from England’s superb bowling display against one of the most vaunted batting line-ups in world cricket.

With five of the team that helped win the Ashes missing, and Alastair Cook ruled out on the eve of the match with a stomach bug, victory arguably represented an even greater feat than anything achieved last summer.

Udal, making his first appearance of the series, collected the key wicket of Sachin Tendulkar en route to figures of 4-14, his best in Tests.

And Andrew Flintoff, for whom brilliance has become the norm, capped a magnificent individual performance, with bat, ball and as captain - this was his first Test victory since taking temporary charge - by claiming 3-14.

Although an England victory looked the likeliest result from the moment Hatthew Hoggard struck in the third over of the day, the departure of Rahul Dravid and Tendulkar in the space of seven balls shortly after lunch virtually scuppered India’s hopes of saving the game.

Andrew Flintoff

Andrew Flintoff traps Wasim Jaffer leg before early on

If the tourists were in high spirits when Flintoff had Dravid caught behind with the third ball of the session, they were positively euphoric after Tendulkar was taken at bat-pad off Udal.

The loss of India’s two most important batsman could not be underestimated.

Dravid’s desire to occupy the crease borders on the monastic - he had batted for almost 19 hours in the series before this innings - while Tendulkar hinted at a return to something like his best form in making a fluent 34.

The wicket of Dravid was no more than Flintoff deserved, his unstinting aggression and accuracy the most notable features of a new-ball burst that was nigh on immaculate.

Hoggard’s contribution was also key, setting the tone by having Anil Kumble trapped leg before with only the 15th ball of the day.

If Hoggard’s wicket was a triumph of the mind - he accounted for Kumble with a full, inswinging delivery immediately after almost pinning him in front with one that held its line - so too was Simon Taufel’s decision on both occasions.

Named umpire of the year by Cricket Australia on the eve of the final day’s play, Taufel correctly adjudged the first appeal to be marginally too high, but could find no reason not to raise his finger seconds later, to the delight of the England players.

It said much for the control of Hoggard and Flintoff, in particular, that the crowd did not witness its first boundary until more than half an hour into the day's play.

And the latter’s continued excellence was rewarded when he thudded one into Wasim Jaffer’s pads and Taufel agreed that it was going on to hit leg stump.

Rahul Dravid

Rahul Dravid's demise sparked an India collapse after lunch

Dravid was in typically watchful mood in reaching nine by lunch, but his judgement let him down after the interval, drawn into playing at a delivery that left him off the seam.

Home-town hero Tendulkar displayed more attacking intent than his partner - Monty Panesar came in for some harsh treatment - but he too failed to add his score following lunch.

Ian Bell took a comfortable catch at short leg as Udal found sufficient turn on a wearing pitch to lure Tendulkar into a tentative forward prod, and James Anderson compounded India’s woes when he trapped Virender Sehwag - hampered by a back injury - in front for a duck.

India had still not reached three figures when Mahendra Dhoni made his case for the most senseless piece of cricket of this or any other match.

Advancing down the wicket, he heaved Udal to deep mid-off where Panesar made such a mess of the attempted catch that the ball landed five yards to his right.

No matter, for three balls later Dhoni obliged once more, this time a relieved Panesar making no mistake.

Harbhajan Singh swung Udal to Hoggard at deep square-leg, while a change of angles - Flintoff coming round the wicket - accounted for Yuvraj Singh, who edged to Paul Collingwood at second slip.

It said much for the lack of discipline shown by the Indian batsmen that Munaf Patel failed to heed Harbhajan’s warning as he too perished to the same combination of Udal and Hoggard.

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