Graeme Swann bowled England to another stunning victory over India to complete a 4-0 series whitewash, as Sachin Tendulkar fell nine runs short of a landmark 100th international century.Tendulkar and Amit Mishra looked to be batting India towards safety as they frustrated England with a partnership of 144 at The Oval.But Mishra was bowled by Graeme Swann (6-106) for 84 and Tendulkar, who had ridden his luck to reach 91, was out to a marginal lbw decision in the following over.
India’s remaining batsmen were skittled in quick succession as England stormed to victory by an innings and eight runs – their seventh innings triumph in 13 Tests – midway through the afternoon session on the final day.When they finally broke the Mishra-Tendulkar partnership, England were ruthless, claiming India’s last seven wickets for 21 runs in 94 balls, with Swann finally making his mark on the series with a spell of four wickets for seven runs.
It was England’s first whitewash over India since 1974 and completed a memorable series in which Andrew Strauss’s men usurped the visitors as the top-ranked Test side in the world.”We had to work pretty hard for that,” England captain Andrew Strauss told BBC Radio’s Test Match Special. “When you enforce the follow-on, you’re always asking a lot of the bowlers especially on a flat wicket. They stuck at it. To bowl India out for 300 and 283 on that wicket is quite a performance.”
After India resumed their second innings on 129-3 – still 162 runs adrift of England – Tendulkar got his score ticking over with a four off the second ball of the day and reached his 61st Test fifty off 74 balls.Nightwatchman Mishra, who had served notice of his batting ability with a breezy 43 in the first innings, started to find the boundary with regularity, taking the partnership past fifty with a flick to the midwicket fence.Tendulkar played and missed twice in a Broad over as he got bogged down in the fifties, but he eventually broke the shackles with a trademark drive through the covers for a boundary.With Tendulkar edging closer to his hundred, the air of expectancy grew around The Oval, as a vast Indian contingent cheered his every run.
But the pressure seemed to weigh heavily on the 38-year-old’s shoulders as he offered England a string of chances.First, Alastair Cook at short leg just failed to hold on to a sharp bat-pad chance off Swann, then Matt Prior dropped a tricky caught-behind chance off the spinner, who also had a close lbw appeal turned down.Mishra had equalled his highest first-class score with his 10th boundary when he finally succumbed in the 41st over of the day, bowled by a quicker ball from Swann that fizzed past his outside edge.
Tendulkar’s show-stopping demise arrived in the following over when he played across a Bresnan delivery and was given out by Rod Tucker, with replays suggesting the ball would have clipped the top of leg stump.With the “Little Master” back in the pavilion, India seemed to lose their stomach for the fight as England’s bowlers ruthlessly finished off the match.Suresh Raina was trapped on the crease by Swann before MS Dhoni and RP Singh were both caught off edges in the same over from Stuart Broad.Gautam Gambhir sliced to backward point and last man Sreesanth was clean bowled after missing a huge leg-side heave off Swann.After the match, England were presented with the ICC Test Mace to mark their status as the world’s number one side. – BBC