England tied things up in their five-match Test series with India with a convincing 226-run victory on Thursday at the Rose Bowl.
Their first Test-match win in almost a year, it levels the series at 1-1—India having triumphed at Lord's and getting a draw at Trent Bridge—and sets things up nicely with two more to go.
Having set the tourists 445 to win after big runs from Alastair Cook in both innings and centuries from Gary Ballance and Ian Bell, Day 5 began with England needing six wickets for victory.
They managed to polish things off before lunch. Moeen Ali claimed his first Test-match five-wicket haul, finishing with excellent figures of 6-47.
Let's take a look at the results and fixtures for the series after the end of the third Test match:
|First Test||Wed 9 - Sun 13 July||Trent Bridge||Draw|
|Second Test||Thu 17 - Mon 21 July||Lords||India by 95 runs|
|Third Test||Sun 27 - Thu 31 July||Rose Bowl||England by 266 runs|
|Fourth Test||Thu 7 - Mon 11 Aug||Old Trafford||TBD|
|Fifth Test||Fri 15 - Tues 19 Aug||The Oval||TBD|
Read on for a look at the top performers with both bat and ball so far in the series, the English players having stepped up to the plate in Southampton after a dire second Test.
Ballance Continues to Accumulate
Gary Ballance continued his excellent form to pick up his second century of the series in England's first innings, scoring a fantastic 156 and proving that he has the talent to make the No. 3 spot his own.
|Gary Ballance (ENG)||5||402||156||80.40||2|
|Murali Vijay (IND)||6||364||146||60.66||1|
|Joe Root (ENG)||5||292||154*||73.00||1|
|Ajinkya Rahane (IND)||6||270||103||54.00||1|
|Ian Bell (ENG)||5||232||167||46.40||1|
The 24-year-old cuts an increasingly comfortable figure as he scores more and more runs and leaves England missing the absent Jonathan Trott less and less.
Much like Trott, Ballance simply accumulates piles of runs, and his consistency will be key for England in the future.
He was very unfortunate at the Rose Bowl to be incorrectly given out in both innings, per the Cricketer magazine:
Second dodgy decision for Ballance in this Test. Given out caught for 38 and England 80-2 at lunch.— The Cricketer (@TheCricketerMag) July 30, 2014
Another England youngster, Joe Root, also continued to impress, showing in the second innings that he is highly adaptable.
With England looking to score fast having not enforced the follow-on, Root's 41-ball 56 was incredibly entertaining and paved the way for the early declaration to give England plenty of time to bowl India out, per Channel 4 News' Malcolm Boughen:
Root moving into one-day mode with a flip over his head and two straight drives to bring up his own 50. England 194-3 #EngvInd— Malcolm Boughen (@MalcBoughen) July 30, 2014
Very gratifyingly for England, two of their out-of-form senior players scored runs with Bell scoring a massive 167 and Cook claiming a 95 and a 70 not out.
India's batsmen were largely poor as many got starts before falling to some strong English bowling, but Ajinkya Rahane scored two half centuries.
Anderson Back in Business
Much like the English batsmen, the senior England bowlers were criticised for not performing at Lord's. However, that changed in this Test. Both James Anderson and Stuart Broad performed well, the former in particularly fine form.
|James Anderson (ENG)||6||151.1||384||16||24.00|
|Bhuvneshwar Kumar (IND)||5||124.5||345||15||23.00|
|Moeen Ali (ENG)||6||109.4||397||15||26.46|
|Ishant Sharma (IND)||3||85.0||285||10||28.50|
|Stuart Broad (ENG)||6||137.0||363||10||36.30|
Anderson was the man in the first innings who reduced India to 330 all out with his five-wicket haul after England had posted 569-7 declared.
Limiting India in their batting was what would eventually win England the match, and the Burnley man showed he was back to his best with his trademark control, aggression and swing.
He won the man-of-the-match award, but England must now sweat on the outcome of Friday's disciplinary hearing, which could see him banned for an altercation with Ravindra Jadeja.
As former England captain Michael Vaughan highlights, the outcome of the hearing could be crucial for the upcoming Test matches:
IMO if @jimmy9 plays the last 2 Tests England will win ... If he gets a Ban India have a chance.....— Michael Vaughan (@MichaelVaughan) July 31, 2014
Ali's performance was all the more brilliant for the fact that he is supposedly only a part-time spinner. He took India apart with six wickets in the second innings and fittingly took the scalp of Pankaj Singh, which signalled the win for England.
As with their batting performance, there wasn't really a standout bowler for India at the Rose Bowl, as they took just 11 wickets with England declaring twice.
With the Old Trafford Test matchup next in a week's time, the series is brilliantly poised with both of the final encounters certain of being significant with the score at 1-1.
England will be desperate to take the momentum from Thursday's win and convert it into a series victory having been heavily criticised after the Lord's Test.
India, meanwhile, will likely look to make some changes, as they aim to win the series after a real drubbing in Hampshire.