England beat India to take world number one slot

India 224 & 244 v England 710-7 - England won by an innings and 242 runs
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The Independent Online

England knocked India off the top of the world Test rankings with a crushing innings-and-242-run victory at Edgbaston this afternoon.

James Anderson (four for 85) broke India's top-order resolve with three wickets on the fourth morning of this third npower Test, and accounted for four of a once redoubtable top five to help England wrap up the series 3-0.

They finished off India for 244, with more than four sessions unused - despite some late hitting from Mahendra Singh Dhoni (74 not out) and Praveen Kumar which helped to save the tourists from their heaviest defeat and prevented England registering the second-largest victory margin in their long history.

India had scant chance, it seemed in any case at start of play, of stopping England going top of the International Cricket Council rankings for the first time.

But after Anderson had shifted Gautam Gambhir, Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman, it was clear the tourists were folding fast.

After Alastair Cook's tour de force 294 in the hosts' 710 for seven declared yesterday, it seemed highly likely this would be England's long-awaited coronation day.

That became almost a given once, as last night with the instant wicket of Virender Sehwag, India got off to an ominously bad start. Following a Graeme Swann maiden, Anderson - who had shifted Sehwag first ball to sentence him to a king pair last night - needed just one ball at Gambhir.

The left-hander nibbled at one slanted dangerously across him and edged low to second slip, where Swann made no mistake away to his left.

Sachin Tendulkar was therefore needed much earlier than India would have wished, and walked out to admiring applause - as he has throughout this tour so far, in his vain pursuit of that unprecedented 100th international hundred.

The Little Master surely knew already he was in for a monumental battle if India were to get anywhere near saving this match, and Anderson - who has already dismissed him seven times in eight Tests - was within a whisker of doing so again twice in as many deliveries.

Tendulkar narrowly missed his second ball, a fast outswinger which whistled into Matthew Prior's gloves, and then chiselled his third between himself and leg-stump off an inside edge for an opening single.

Stuart Broad immediately replaced Swann at the city end, and let go a full-toss first ball which Tendulkar guided past point for four.

India badly needed Tendulkar and Dravid to take the sting out of the situation, as England sensed a quick kill under cloud cover.

But The Wall crumbled in Anderson's next over, via an apparently thin edge behind. Dravid appeared unconvinced he had made contact, but did not resort to DRS - and Anderson had two wickets for one run in eight balls.

He had to wait another six overs to make it four out of four, another perfect outswinger seeing off Laxman caught behind.

After a spell of 6-2-17-3 this morning, Anderson gave way to Tim Bresnan - and discovered for sure soon afterwards that he would not be taking all 10, when Swann ended a minor counter-attack from Tendulkar and Suresh Raina by trapping the left-hander lbw pushing forward to a straight-on delivery.

Swann was to have a hand too, literally, in the next wicket - an outrageous and dispiritingly symbolic piece of misfortune for Tendulkar, summing up as well as anything this summer a tour on which nothing has gone right for India.

Tendulkar had appeared to be batting on a different plane, after his mildly uncertain start, meeting pretty much everything with the middle of the bat and timing eight fours in his 40 runs.

But there was nothing he could do when Dhoni drove Swann straight back, and the off-spinner deflected the ball on to the wickets with Tendulkar backing up and unable to ground his bat before being run out at the non-striker's end.

The India captain had belatedly rediscovered his form with a counter-attacking 77 in his team's otherwise inadequate first innings.

His and Kumar's boundary-laden stand of 75 in only eight overs for the eighth wicket, including successive sixes over long-on off Swann from the tailender, took hold after lunch.

But it was a gesture without consequence - because England had inflicted the telling damage already, and knew their just reward was in the bag.

So it proved after Kumar miscued another attempted big hit off the returning Broad to cover, having clubbed 40 off only 18 balls.

The sell-out crowd showed gracious appreciation for Kumar's spirited resistance - but not as loudly as they cheered their own heroes 35 minutes later when Shantha Sreesanth was last out to Bresnan to give England their sixth successive series victory.

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