Anderson's five inspires England win
England moved a step closer to becoming the world’s number-one ranked Test side today as James Anderson starred in a 196-run victory in the opening encounter of the four-match npower series against India.
The excitement around the Home of Cricket was illustrated by tens of thousands of fans turning up – some of whom arrived at 2am – ahead of the final day of the historic 2,000th Test.
England did not disappoint as they secured the nine India wickets required to clinch the win, bowling the tourists out for 261 at 5.24pm.
The final day, much like the previous four, was a perfect advert for the game’s longest form with a packed house once again enjoying the action.
Anderson was England’s star, claiming the wickets of India’s much-fabled middle-order trio of Rahul Dravid, VVS Laxman and Sachin Tendulkar en route to figures of 5-65.
Once again, much attention surrounded the latter as he graced the hallowed turf at Lord’s for what will probably be the final time in the five-day arena.
The stage seemed set for the Little Master – who had never registered three figures here – to score his 100th international hundred in the most perfect of settings.
This England side acquired a ruthless streak some time ago, though, and there was no time for sentiment as Tendulkar fell for 12.
Despite the best efforts of Suresh Raina – who hit a battling 78 – the hosts claimed first blood in a series, which will see them rise to the summit of the five-day rankings if they can win by two clear Tests.
It did not take long for England to cause problems this morning, with Laxman edging Anderson through gully in the day’s second over.
Half-chances continued to come before the hosts got the reward their efforts deserved, with Anderson claiming the key wicket of Dravid for 36. Finding a small amount of away movement, the seamer profited from a wider delivery with India’s first-innings centurion nicking through to Matt Prior.
Much like in the rest of the encounter, Stuart Broad was looking threatening when he came into the attack and thought he had removed Laxman. Broad narrowly beat the edge of the bat, prompting a loud appeal – which umpire Billy Bowden turned down.
England opted to review the decision, with HotSpot showing no mark, although ‘snickometer’ – which is not part of the Decision Review System in this series – suggested there may have been a slight edge.
After Gautum Gambhir broke the shackles with a couple of boundaries off Graeme Swann, Laxman brought up his half-century. However, he did not last much longer as Anderson returned to the attack to claim another huge breakthrough.
In truth, the wicket was a result of poor batting rather than good bowling as Laxman, on 56, pulled a short ball to midwicket, where a leaping Ian Bell took an excellent catch.
Tendulkar almost departed first ball, Anderson beating his inside edge with a beauty, before getting off the mark with a gorgeous flick through midwicket.
It got so much better for England in the next over as Swann eventually emerged victorious in his battle with Gambhir, trapping the left-hander plumb in front for 22.
But Raina, on a king pair, was quickly into his stride as he struck Swann for a beautifully-timed four down the ground from the second delivery he faced.
The hosts continued to crank up the pressure after lunch and should have earned the sought-after wicket of Tendulkar on 11. Broad rapped the veteran on the pads – only for umpire Bowden to give a not-out verdict when replays suggested the ball would have gone on to hit middle stump.
While Tendulkar was struggling, Raina was looking considerably more assured than his illustrious partner, epitomised by a cover-driven four off Broad. The former’s plight was best shown by him going 39 balls without scoring at one stage, a run he ended courtesy of a nudge to leg for one.
He was dropped by Andrew Strauss at first slip moments later as Anderson found the edge with the batsman looking to shoulder arms.
However, the error did not prove too costly as, two balls later, England’s star seamer trapped Tendulkar plumb in front – umpire Bowden this time raising the finger.
Raina nearly perished in the next over with Prior convinced he had him stumped off Swann but, after replays proved inconclusive, TV umpire Marais Erasmus opted for a not-out verdict.
Seemingly looking to get through some overs with the new ball imminent, the hosts turned to their part-time bowlers with Jonathan Trott and Kevin Pietersen being brought into the attack.
Raina and Mahendra Singh Dhoni profited with runs coming freely, although it mattered little with survival their only aim. With Trott proving expensive, Swann was brought into the attack prior to Raina bringing up his half-century - from 90 deliveries.
India continued to battle after tea but skipper Dhoni had no answer as Chris Tremlett found his edge with the immediately-taken new ball, Prior taking a smart low catch.
Having been roughed up off the first few deliveries he faced, Harbhajan Singh opted for a more aggressive approach, launching Tremlett for four over mid-off. But he was riding his luck and, having gloved one over slip, Harbhajan was reprieved when Eoin Morgan dropped a simple chance at point.
That was nothing compared to the fortune Raina enjoyed moments later when umpire Bowden turned down a huge lbw appeal, which replays showing was plumb, off the luckless Broad.
Harbhajan was gone off the next over, though, top-edging an attempted pull off Anderson to mid-on, where Tremlett pouched the catch. Scenting victory, England continued to charge as Broad bowled Praveen Kumar with a delivery that nipped back down the slope.
Anderson then secured his 11th Test five-wicket haul in the best possible manner, finding Raina’s edge with a beautiful outswinger from round the wicket and Prior doing the rest.
Perhaps fittingly, Broad – who had starred with bat and ball – wrapped things up, trapping Ishant Sharma in front to secure figures of 3-57.