ENGLAND captain Andrew Strauss momentarily abandoned his characteristic restraint after seeing his team eclipse India, the world’s finest, at Lord’s yesterday, hailing what he termed an almost perfect bowling display.
Paceman James Anderson starred on the final day of the first Test, taking five wickets including the prize scalp of Sachin Tendulkar, as the hosts dismissed the tourists for 261 to wrap up an enthralling 196-run victory.
But there was special praise too for the resurgent Stuart Broad (3-57), who took the final wicket of Ishant Sharma to cap a match in which the all-rounder emphatically answered those critics who had questioned his selection.
“I think over the two innings that was as close to the perfect bowling performance as we’ve had in the last two years and that is saying a lot because we have had a lot of exceptional performances,” Strauss said.
“It was an outstanding effort by the whole attack over five days. You do have to work hard for your wickets here and I think it showed the value of persistent lines and lengths. That’s the only way of taking wickets here and I think we did that brilliantly.”
Strauss called Twenty20 captain Broad, whose batting on Sunday rescued England from a second-innings collapse, “outstanding”. He added: “Stuart showed immense character over five days. He bowled very well and his second innings 70 was crucial to the outcome of the game. He showed his class and it was a timely reminder to everyone of what a great talent he is.”
Lord’s swelled to capacity to see whether England could finish off India, the team they can replace as world No1 if they win this four-Test series by two matches – and the game soon sparked into life.
England, needing nine wickets, took three before lunch – Anderson accounting for Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman; Graeme Swann dismissing Gautam Gambhir – and, after Broad’s strong lbw appeal and Strauss’s dropped catch, Tendulkar finally departed, still seeking that 100th century, to Anderson.
Tea came with five wickets still required, but once Chris Tremlett despatched India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni soon afterwards the tail offered little resistance as Anderson (5-65) completed his five-wicket haul.