Bowlers hailed as England edge to brink of ending 27-year wait

ENGLAND captain Alastair Cook hailed his devastating bowling attack yesterday after a seven-wicket victory in the third Test against India eased the tourists to within touching distance of a landmark series triumph.

Batsmen Nick Compton and Ian Bell sped England to their target of 41 in Kolkata, despite an early wobble that saw Cook, Jonathan Trott and Kevin Pietersen depart and leave them on 8-3.

But Cook singled out bowlers James Anderson, Steven Finn, Graeme Swann and Monty Panesar, who took six, four, three and five wickets respectively to leave England on the cusp of a first series win in India since 1985.

“In this game our bowlers have been outstanding. To restrict them to 300 in the first innings on that wicket was a great effort,” said Cook. “Then yesterday, when they were 80-0, to take six-for was highly skilled bowling, with Swanny at one end, getting [Virender] Sehwag straight away, and then reverse swing from Jimmy and Finny was exceptional.”

England only need a draw in the final Test in Nagpur, which starts on Thursday, to become the first team to win a series against India on their own soil since Australia in 2004. It would be an achievement all the more remarkable given their abject struggle against Pakistan’s spinners in the Middle East last winter, which Cook has tried to address in his first series as permanent skipper.

“The first thing was a realisation of a problem,” he added. “It probably wasn’t as big as everyone made out, but all of us had to have a look at our technique against spin and work out a method which suits each of us.”