After wicketless morning, India collapse after lunch
Tea: Fourth Test, day five, The Oval
Match score: England 591-6 dec (Bell 235, Pietersen 175; Sreesanth 3-123) beat India 300 (Dravid 146*; Bresnan 3-54, Swann 3-102) and 283 (Tendulkar 91, Mishra 84; Swann 6-106) by an innings and eight runs Full scorecard
Session score: India 67-7 England win session and the series 4-0
“If you don’t get it today you’ll never get it,” Graeme Swann said to Sachin Tendulkar amid the flurry of dropped catches and unrequited lbw appeals.
Prophetic or pathetic, it was an understandable if unworthy and futile to unsettle a batsman who has lived his entire professional life like an animal in a zoo.
If it can be said the pressure got to Tendulkar then it will have been self-induced. Certainly the tempo of his innings slowed considerably in inverse proportion to the runs he was scoring.
His first 50 came from 74 balls, his next 41 from 98. There was just a hint before lunch when Stuart Broad was bowling yorker-length to him that he was starting to struggle.
And had he made his hundredth international hundred, he could not have counted it is one of his best, despite the numerical significance. After England failed to appeal for a stumping when he had 34 last night, he was dropped twice and given not out twice by Simon Taufel to lbw shouts from Swann that Hawk-Eye indicated were out.
Having been missed at short leg by Alastair Cook at short leg before lunch, Tendulkar was also dropped by Matt Prior also off Swann. A much tougher chance this, the ball failed to stick in the webbing of Prior’s right glove as Tendulkar, on 85, tried to run the ball down to third man.
When he was finally given out 45 minutes after lunch by Taufel’s compatriot Rod Tucker, it was the least convincing of the three leg-before appeals against him. Hawk-Eye showed the ball hitting the top of leg stump. A review, had they been in operation for lbws, would have back the umpire’s call but it was a ‘brave’ call, you might say euphemistically. Cancel that trip to the Taj Mahal, Rod, if I were you.
It was the second wicket of the day. Five minutes earlier Mishra, having equalled his highest first-class score of 84, had played inside the line to Swann and was bowled.
Tendulkar’s departure relieved the crowd of their pent-up anxiety and punctured what remained of India’s fight. Swann took three for four in 24 balls and India collapsed from 262 for 3 to 283 all out. They had lost seven for 23 runs in 80 minutes.
When Swann took his fifth wicket, he satirised, as only he can, Andrew Flintoff’s arms-outstretched celebrations at Lord’s in the 2009 Ashes.
There was a small possibility that England would have to bat again but that was extinguished when Sreesanth took a huge heave at Swann and played on. So the whole England team was able to enjoy the double celebration of the clean sweep and the official crowning of their world No.1 Test status.
John Stern is a former editor of The Cricketer
Follow him on Twitter @Cricketer_John