England are so close to their target they can almost touch it. A thumping 319-run victory here yesterday gave them a 2-0 lead in the four-match series against India and even two draws now will be enough for Andrew Strauss's men to replace their struggling opponents as the world's No 1 Test team.
Strauss, though, must feel England can continue to dominate and seal the deal by winning at Edgbaston next week. They recovered from a perilous 124 for 8 on the first day here to claim another handsome win after Lord's. "It was a fantastic turnaround and I am proud of all we have done this week," said the captain.
"We were twice in positions where India looked favourites and we had to dig deep to turn it around. That gives me a lot of pride and fills me with confidence that we can go on and be an even better side."
So what about 4-0? "We don't look at it like that," insisted the captain. "We are just looking to turn up at Edgbaston next week and to try to win that Test. We have had to work very hard for these two wins and we don't expect anything different next time."
Stuart Broad, who scored vital runs and took key wickets, was named man of the match. Fittingly, he sealed victory on his home ground by dismissing India's No 11, Sree Sreesanth, as the visitors were dismissed for 158.
"It is nice when cricket is going your way and it makes it even more special when things have been pretty tough for a couple of months," said Broad, whose place in the side was under threat before the start of this series.
England were finally bowled out for 544 just before lunch yesterday, having added 103 runs in 19 overs with Tim Bresnan, batting at No 8, falling just 10 runs short of a maiden Test century.
Bresnan, who was playing only because Chris Tremlett failed a fitness test before the match, then went on to claim his first five-wicket haul, on his eighth Test appearance.
For India, the imminent arrival of their dashing opener, Virender Sehwag, is a timely boost. Sehwag, who has been recovering from shoulder surgery, joins his team-mates later today and should play in this weekend's two-day match against Northamptonshire.
The tourists have failed to reach 300 in any of their four innings so far in this series. "It is a bit of a concern because it is a continuation of what happened in the West Indies [a few weeks ago] where we also failed to put a huge amount of runs on the board," said India's captain, Mahendra Singh Dhoni. "We'll see how Sehwag goes in the practice game at Northampton. We all know what he is capable of doing."
India's supporters were pleased, doubtless, to hear their captain insist the series could be turned around. But by far the biggest round of applause for Dhoni came when he explained why he had agreed to withdraw the run-out appeal against Ian Bell on Sunday afternoon.
"None of us were feeling very right in the heart about the incident – and that is what matters, more than the laws of the game," said Dhoni. "I am happy that the team decided Bell should be called back."
Strauss personally thanked India before start of play yesterday. "I think what they did was good for the game of cricket," he said. "Hopefully, other captains will make similar decisions in similar situations in the future," he said.
While India wait to see whether Sehwag is ready for Test action tomorrow week, England will monitor the fitness of both Jonathan Trott (shoulder) and Chris Tremlett (back and hamstring).Reuse content