England’s victory in the third Test against India ended a 10-match winless streak in the five-day format, whilst it also showed Alastair Cook answering his critics after a run of poor form.
The England captain described the emphatic 266-run victory as “a perfect win” that should alleviate the building pressure that he had come under from the media and British public
It wasn’t just the manner of victory that was pleasing to see, Cook’s return to prominence at the top of the order showed glimpses of his former self. His first innings knock of 95 set the tone for the match, as England set themselves a great foundation on day one.
Gary Ballance’s 158-run partnership for the second wicket with the skipper helped the hosts gain the upper hand. However, this wasn’t the first time this summer that England have been in the ascendency, although it transpired to be the first time since August 2013 that they were able to press home that advantage and secure a victory.
With a first innings lead of 239, Cook had his work cut out as captain. His decision not to enforce the follow-on on day four proved pivotal in his side leveling the series.
Once again he led the way with the bat, offering a steady stream of runs for his 70 not out, as teammates at the other end threw the bat.
In both innings, the left-handed batsman timed his declarations to perfection, both with a view to allowing his bowlers enough time to take 10 Indian wickets in the last day and
After the agony of having a match-winning wicket overturned by DRS on the penultimate ball of the first Test against Sri Lanka, England had no such problems this time around,
wrapping up the result with two sessions still to go.
Use of bowlers
Another great call from the captain came with his utilisation of Moeen Ali. The part-time spinner has been continually trusted to turn the ball and take wickets for England in
the latter stages of a Test.
Criticism has come due to the lack of a frontline spinner in the squad, but the Worcestershire all-rounder repaid the faith shown in him by his captain, by taking his maiden Test match five-wicket haul.
Ali’s impressive 6-67 fired England to victory in double quick time. Cook’s use of James Anderson and Stuart Broad in the opening innings must also be commended.
England’s senior seamers showed their true quality in restricting India to 330 first time
The win puts England level with India, with the two teams still having two more Tests to play this summer. If James Anderson is suspended, then Cook might find it more difficult
to manufacture a victory at either Old Trafford or The Oval.
Nevertheless, the winning momentum that can be carried away from the Ageas Bowl will fill the entire squad with confidence and will have them fired up for the fourth Test.