Having been denied by the weather the reward they deserved after dominating the opening game at The Oval, England's success here helped the memory of their troubled winter recede a little further while giving them an important and long overdue boost to morale.
It did not go entirely according to plan - with England it rarely does - and it is worth noting that, for all the changes of personnel that had been made, the men who did most to bring about the win had all been involved in South Africa and the World Cup.
Chief among these was Graham Thorpe, who showed tremendous resolve in helping turn England's fortunes around after they had sunk to 68 for four in pursuit of India's 158 in a match reduced to 42 overs a side because of rain in the morning. And in staying with him at a time when India were really applying the pressure, Alec Stewart indicated that there may still be a healthy future for him as a Test player.
When India batted, there were clear signs that England had benefited from the fresh inspiration provided by David Lloyd, their new coach. England's fielding was much the better of the two sides and they had greater depth in their bowling.
All the bowlers contributed, and while Dominic Cork and Peter Martin had the most to show for their efforts - three wickets each - Chris Lewis, with a superb opening spell, maintained the form he had shown at The Oval and stifled India's hopes of a quick start.
England made two changes from the first match. With seam bowling the order of the day on a greenish wicket and under damp skies, Neil Smith was dispensed with in favour of Darren Gough, and Ronnie Irani lost his place to Matthew Maynard.
In the first five overs of India's innings at The Oval, England's bowling had come unstuck at the hands of some vibrant batting by Sachin Tendulkar and Vikram Rathore. But in climatic circumstances much more favourable to them, Lewis and, to a lesser extent, Cork put England in a position of control that, in the field at any rate, they never surrendered.
Two short interruptions for rain made it difficult for India to establish any rhythm in the all-important early stages, and the bounce and movement they encountered put them in no position to start throwing the bat. The number of overs in which fielding restrictions were in place was reduced to 12, by which time India were only 38 for two.
The loss of Sachin Tendulkar to a direct hit from mid-on by Mark Ealham was a bad blow for India but testament to the accuracy of Lewis, who had been pinning down Vikram Rathore and forced him into trying to take a run that was never there.
By the time Rathore prodded a catch to Thorpe at slip India had almost ground to a halt, but Mohammad Azharuddin led the recovery with a sumptuous 40 that did not need to end with a shot unworthy of him - a heave to mid- wicket where Alistair Brown ran round to take an excellent catch.
India's running between the wickets was not good. Navjot Sidhu and Sanjay Manjrekar both got in but fell to well-executed run-outs before Ajay Jadeja produced what turned out to be the last Indian innings of any significance, improvising his way to 33. At 145 for five and four overs left, India had hopes of a respectable total at least, but they lost their last five wickets for 13 runs and the match was surely England's for the taking.
Even so, they made a pretty good fist of throwing it away. Alistair Brown had been dropped second ball at The Oval. At the same stage of this innings he was lbw to Javagal Srinath, and England's problems mounted when, in the second over, Graeme Hick, first ball, went the same way to Venkatesh Prasad.
Although conditions were beginning to ease, Mike Atherton struggled and was eventually out caught at slip when swiping at Prasad. That was 23 for three in the 12th over and when Maynard, after putting on 45 for the fourth wicket with Thorpe, was stranded going for a second run, the match was back in the balance.
By now, though, the sun was shining, and neither the Indian seamers nor Anil Kumble could get as much help from the wicket as had been on offer earlier. Thorpe is a marvellous dispatcher of the bad ball and as he cut and pulled his way towards 79 not out and Stewart settled into his stride as well, England could look back on a largely encouraging day's work.
(England won toss)
V Rathore c Thorpe b Cork 7
(37 min, 26 balls; first slip scooped up fine edge)
S R Tendulkar run out (Ealham) 6
(27 min, 19 balls, 1 four; Ealham hit stumps at bowler's end from mid- on)
N S Sidhu run out (Cork) TV replay 20
(59 min, 41 balls, 2 fours; Cork threw down wicket from mid-off)
*M Azharuddin c Brown b Martin 40
(83 min, 68 balls, 2 fours, 1 six; mishit skier to wide mid-on)
S V Manjrekar run out (Maynard-Cork) TV replay 24
(48 min, 33 balls, 1 four; Maynard hit bowler's stumps from mid-on)
A D Jadeja c Martin b Cork 33
(37 min, 27 balls, 3 fours; skied to mid-on)
N R Mongia c Atherton b Cork 9
(22 min, 13 balls, 1 four; skied to cover)
A Kumble c Stewart b Martin 0
(6 min, 2 balls; thin edge to wicketkeper)
J Srinath c Cork b Gough 5
(9 min, 4 balls, 1 four; slog to deep mid-on)
P L Mhambrey not out 7
(7 min, 5 balls, 1 four)
B K V Prasad c Stewart b Martin 1
(5 min, 5 balls; thick edge to keeper)
Extras (lb1 w5) 6
Total (173 min, 40.2 overs) 158
Fall: 1-16 (Tendulkar) 2-17 (Rathore) 3-58 (Sidhu) 4-94 (Azharuddin) 5-113 (Manjrekar) 6-145 (Mongia) 7-145 (Jadeja) 8-149 (Kumble) 9-155 (Srinath) 10-158 (Prasad).
Bowling: Cork 9-1-46-3 (w2) (6-1-24-1, 2-0-15-0, 1-0-7-2); Lewis 9-1- 30-0 (w1) (6-1-13-0, 3-0-17-0); Martin 8.2-1-34-3 (w2) (5-1-11-0, 2-0- 16-1, 1.2-0-7-2); Gough 8-1-24-1 (nb1) (7-1-22-0, 1-0-2-1); Ealham 6-0- 23-0 (4-0-11-0, 2-0-12-0).
*M A Atherton c Tendulkar b Prasad 7
(48 min, 36 balls; wafted to first first slip)
A D Brown lbw b Srinath 0
(3 min 2 balls; played and missed straight delivery)
G A Hick lbw b Prasad 0
(3 min 1 ball; beaten playing back)
G P Thorpe not out 79
(161 mins, 118 balls, 10 fours)
M P Maynard run out (Srinath-Mongia) 14
(44 min 23 balls, 2 fours; left stranded after turning for second run)
A J Stewart not out 47
(76 min, 59 balls, 4 fours)
Extras (lb5 w8 nb2) 15
Total (for 4, 169 min, 39.3 overs) 162
Fall: 1-1 (Brown) 2-2 (Hick) 3-23 (Atherton) 4-68 (Maynard).
Did not bat: M A Ealham, C C Lewis, D Gough, D G Cork, P J Martin.
Bowling: Srinath 9-4-18-1 (7-4-7-1, 1-0-6-0, 1-0-5-0); Prasad 9-2-33- 2 (7-2-20-2, 2-0-13-0); Kumble 9-0-36-0 (w4) (3-0-16-0, 2-0-6-0, 4-0-14- 0); Mhambrey 6-0-29-0 (nb2) (4-0-17-0, 2-0-12-0); Tendulkar 3-0-15-0 (w3); Jadeja 3-0-22-0 (w1)(2-0-15-0, 1-0- 7-0); Manjrekar 0.3-0-4-0.
England won by six wickets.
Umpires: M J Kitchen and A G T Whitehead. TV Replay Umpire: D J Constant.
Match Referee: C W Smith. Adjudicator: S M Gavaskar.Reuse content