In a lot of ways, it was good that Sachin Tendulkar didn't get his hundredth 100 here, as there was a chance the celebrations would overshadow the failings of the team. That there was excitement over the landmark, given the position India were in, surprised quite a few experts here. It was a day when his team suffered a whitewash and got relegated to third spot in the ICC Test rankings.
This series had been termed as the battle for the No 1 mantle. But it turned out to be a no-contest. In a stunning show of strength, it has been England all the way. Andrew Strauss' men routed India by an innings and eight runs at The Oval on Monday to complete a sensational whitewash and celebrated it with the ICC mace for being the No 1 ranked team in the world.
When play resumed on the fifth morning, there was no hint of the impending gale-force to hit the Indian batting. Tendulkar and Amit Mishra had raised hopes at lunch as they negotiated the period with confidence to take the team to 216 for three. But, get one and they all fall down, has been the script of the series for the India line-up. The fall of the well-set fourth-wicket pair opened the door for a collapse. The humiliation was complete as the last seven wickets fell for just 21 runs.
So far, it has been convenient to hide behind the excuse of tough conditions. On the final day, it was ironic that the famed players of spin were routed by the home team's tweaker. With the wicket offering little purchase, offie Graeme Swann ran through the Indian line-up, claiming six wickets for 106 runs. He triggered the procession with the wicket of Mishra and in the next 45 minutes, India lost five more for seven runs in 51 balls - Mishra out at 2.20 pm, Tendulkar at 2.25, Suresh Raina 2.40, MS Dhoni at 3.02 and RP Singh at 3.05.
The highlight of the off-spinner's mastery was the way he weaved a web around Tendulkar. He was unlucky not to have the famous wicket in his kitty when his 'keeper stumped the batsman but failed to appeal. He then had three very strong appeals turned down and a catch dropped.
Manner of defeat
The last day's proceedings were an apt reflection of how the series has played out. It is not just the result; it is the manner of defeats that has been shocking. The margin of defeats has been extraordinary - at Lords, it was 196 runs, at Trent Bridge 319 runs, at Edgbaston an innings and 242 runs and an innings defeat here.
It was billed as the marquee series between the reigning champions and the challengers. India's reputation as a Test power now lies in ruins. A lot of names in this contest were the same as in the 2007 line-up.
As Dravid said: "England were expected to be good, but India were expected to be better." As it turned out, the Indian supporters have nothing to write home about. It is the end of an era in Indian cricket.
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