India v England: Lessons learned as tourists wrap up seven-wicket win
India v England: What lessons did we learn as the tourists wrapped up a seven-wicket victory? Matt Cansick
England wrap up win
There may have been a few nervous looks exchanged amongst England supporters as three wickets were lost during the second innings run chase to leave the tourists on 8-3, but Nick Compton (nine) and Ian Bell (28 from 28) guided the team home and into a 2-1 series lead. Earlier, it had taken just 10 balls for the last Indian wicket to fall, James Anderson removing Pragyan Ojha to finish with 3-83 and leave England with a target of 41 to win the match. Ravichandran Ashwin did his best to reach his century before the inevitable demise, but despite two boundaries from the first over of the day he was left stranded on 91. Alastair Cook was intent on being positive, but this led to his stumping off the bowling of Ashwin, and Jonathan Trott and Kevin Pietersen fell soon after. Compton was in no hurry, and it was left to Bell to register an unbeaten score that should go some way towards boosting his confidence ahead of the fourth and final Test.
Changes for India
India have already made two changes to their squad for the final match in response to this heavy defeat. Zaheer Khan, Harbhajan Singh and Yuvraj Singh have all been dropped in favour of Piyush Chawla and potential Test debutants Parvinder Awana and Ravindra Jadeja. Both Khan and Harbhajan are approaching their 100th Tests, and the latter will be particularly disappointed having been recalled for this series. Sachin Tendulkar, despite his almost god-like status in India, is also facing some serious questions over his future, and at 39, is lacking any real form, so it surely cannot be long before he bows out of international cricket. MS Dhoni desperately needs a win, and a defeat in Nagpur could well lead to the end of his captaincy. He will be hoping that the changes they have made will prove fruitful, and this may prove to be the first step in overhauling a squad that has seen several of its former stalwarts retire over the last few years..
Dominant performance from England
This was another demonstration of a balanced side finding its rhythm and playing to its strengths. The bowling unit worked well and the batsmen, Cook in particular, stood up when it counted to take advantage of the good work done by the bowlers. The captain praised the character of his side in responding to their comprehensive defeat in the first Test, and both he and Andy Flower will be delighted with the performances after result in Ahmedabad. There was no over-reaction, and even though Monty Panesar should have been in the side for the series opener his inclusion was no knee-jerk reaction. From there on England have outplayed their opponents in consecutive Tests, and this win has left them on the precipice of victories both home and away against a side that preceded them as the number one side in the world. After the controversy and furore that surrounded the past few months, this is a welcome return to form for England, particularly ahead of an Ashes year.
Gripping finale in store
England are now on the verge of completing a famous series win. Whilst they will be more than happy with a draw, they cannot afford to go into the match looking for that result. That said, they will be less inclined to try and force their way into getting a victory, and the pressure will be on the Indian batsmen to score quickly when they get in. Barring injuries, the same England side will line up in Nagpur, and they will be up against a new-look Indian side that will be picked to do one thing: win the match. From a shaky start, new captain Cook has not looked overawed by the task, and with centuries in each Test his batting is certainly not suffering. The cricket in the three matches so far has been fantastic, and hopefully Thursday will bring more of the same, as India try to stop another comprehensive defeat and England aim to win a series in India for the first time since 1985.