Swann spins England to whitewash
Graeme Swann led the way with six wickets as England’s bowlers delivered a stunning performance on the final afternoon at the Kia Oval to dismiss India for 283 and wrap up an innings-and-eight-run victory that secures a 4-0 npower series whitewash.
It had looked as though the tourists might save the fourth Test as a fourth-wicket partnership of 144 between Sachin Tendulkar and Amit Mishra took them to within 29 of England’s first-innings score.
The great Tendulkar, dropped on 70 and 85 off Swann, was also on the brink of making history in front of a sell-out crowd as he moved to within nine of a remarkable 100th international hundred.
However, his departure, lbw to Tim Bresnan for 91, came in the midst of a collapse that saw the final seven wickets go for the addition of just 21 runs.
Mishra fell to Swann in the over before Tendulkar’s dismissal, having displayed admiral fighting spirit and no shortage of ability in compiling a Test-best 84.
Yet once the established pair had been removed there was no stopping England as they ran through the tail in clinical fashion to claim yet another comprehensive win, with Swann taking 6-106.
England, who have proved irresistible throughout the summer, were already guaranteed to replace their opponents as the world’s number one Test team after this fixture and captain Andrew Strauss was presented with the International Cricket Council’s Test mace during the post-match presentation.
Tendulkar, who appeared to be stumped by Matt Prior yesterday when on 34, only for England’s fielders to remain silent, took just two balls to advance his and India’s score this morning as he guided a wide delivery from James Anderson through the vacant gully region for four.
An uppercut over the same area brought four more in the Lancashire seamer’s next over, while Mishra made a confident start against Swann, who was expected to represent England’s chief threat on a wearing surface.
After Tendulkar had moved to 50, from 74 balls, Mishra did suffer a moment of discomfort as he was struck on the left thigh by Anderson, who then beat the outside edge with a fuller delivery.
However, for the remainder of the morning, the leg-spinner surprisingly outshone his distinguished partner with an array of impressive shots.
While Tendulkar displayed uncharacteristically poor footwork in playing and missing outside the off stump against Anderson and Stuart Broad, who also saw an lbw appeal rejected, Mishra collected fours in three consecutive overs to bring up the 50 partnership.
Ravi Bopara proved ineffective upon his introduction to the attack, conceding fours through the covers and third man to Tendulkar.
Swann, meanwhile, was also struggling to make an impact and, after switching to the Pavilion End, was lofted down the ground for four by an increasingly assured Mishra.
However, England’s off-spinner was unfortunate not to account for Tendulkar shortly before lunch when Alastair Cook failed to hold on to a tricky bat-pad chance at short-leg.
Mishra moved to 50 in the final over of the morning session by angling Bresnan down to third man for two and then picked up another four through the same region.
Yet when play resumed after the interval the focus was entirely on one man.
With the tension increasing, Swann was unfortunate not to win an lbw verdict when Tendulkar failed to connect with a sweep and was struck on the front pad. Later in the same over, the batsman eased a shorter ball through the covers for his 10th four.
Mishra found the fence for the ninth time to move to 76 before Tendulkar was dropped for a second time off Swann, this time by Prior as he looked to make room to cut.
Another appeal for leg before from the Nottinghamshire bowler was also turned down, but Swann finally made a breakthrough when Mishra played down the wrong line and was bowled.
In the next over, England had further cause for celebration as Bresnan ended Tendulkar’s stay, to the amazement of an engrossed audience.
Suresh Raina swiftly followed for a duck, his second of the match, when he propped forward to Swann and was adjudged lbw, although replays showed the left-hander had got an inside-edge.
A rampant England were then able to take the new ball and Broad struck twice in the space of four balls in the second over of his spell.
India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni was caught at second slip following a wild drive, and RP Singh was unable to deal with a rising delivery and nicked through to Prior.
Swann was initially denied a fifth wicket when Ishant Sharma successfully reviewed umpire Rod Tucker’s decision to give him out caught at silly point.
In the spinner’s next over, however, Gautam Gambhir advanced down the track and succeeded only in spooning a simple catch to Eoin Morgan at gully and when Sreesanth missed a straight ball the celebrations could begin.