England finally win in Southampton

England have won their first test match for 11 months at The Ageas Bowl in Southampton and levelled the five-match series with India 1-1. With England batting first, under-pressure captain […]

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England have won their first test match for 11 months at The Ageas Bowl in Southampton and levelled the five-match series with India 1-1.

With England batting first, under-pressure captain Alastair Cook scored an assured 95, followed up by Gary Ballance and Ian Bell scoring 156 and 167 respectively and debutant wicket-keeper Jos Buttler scoring a quickfire 85. England declared half-way through Day Two on 569-7.

One thing that had characterised England’s exceptionally poor run of form was the inability of their top players to produce quality cricket over five days. Cook and Bell, England’s two experienced batsmen had experienced poor winters, but both had produced good scores. However, the bowling attack would also have to deliver a good performance if they were to win the test, and both Stuart Broad and James Anderson responded. Anderson took 5 wickets in the first innings, and the team was given a further boost by Moeen Ali’s two wickets. Generally regarded as a part-time bowler, he claimed the wickets of Ajinkya Rahane and Rohit Sharma, who had looked dangerous in the previous two tests. India were 330 all out, and England had the choice of enforcing the follow-on at the beginning of the fourth day, but they neglected, deciding to give their bowlers a further rest.

The Ageas Bowl in Southampton

The Ageas Bowl in Southampton

Cook anchored a fast-scoring 2nd innings with a confident 70 not out, with Balllance, Bell and Joe Root all contributing good scores at around a run-a-ball. England declared on 205-4, setting India 445 to win. It was a non-important score however. India would either bat for four sessions and draw the match, or England would bowl them out and win. And when Vijay was sloppily run out early for just 12, things looked good for England. Che Pujara, Virat Kohli and MS Dhoni all fell cheaply, before Ali skittled out the tail-end. England bowled India out for 178 and won by 266 runs.

The crowd went home happy after England finally win

For once, there were multiple positives to come out of the game for England. Firstly, England’s four experienced players – Cook, Bell, Broad and Anderson – all looked in good form and played very well. They were also backed up by performances by the younger players. Chris Woakes bowled superbly despite not getting a wicket, Buttler and Ballance batted very well and Ali took eight wickets in the match – more than Anderson.

If England can continue this form then they will certainly win the series. Questions are obviously still there over Cook’s captaincy and the form of the team in general, but this win will have gone a long way to boosting morale and answering some of the criticisms. A series win will do even more to that end.