Belfast Telegraph

Friday 18 April 2014

Andrew Strauss proud of his heroes

England took another big step towards the top of the world when they completed a stunning, and thoroughly deserved, 196-run victory over India in the first Test atLord's last night.

Those supporting the tourists were only just in the minority among a record last-day crowd of around 28,000, but it was England's fans who had everything to shout about once Stuart Broad sealed the win by dismissing last man Ishant Sharma.

England need to win this four-match series by at least two clear Tests to replace India at the top of the table and take the No 1 spot for the first time since the rankings were devised more than a decade ago. As captain Andrew Strauss stressed last night, there is a long way to go before the bunting comes out but the hosts will go into Friday's second Test, at Trent Bridge, brimming with confidence.

"To be No 1 you have to grab opportunities and we did that very well in this match," said Strauss. "But we cannot get carried away. Yes, I'm very proud of what the guys have done here. But I'm also aware that it is only the opening salvo so we must not get too satisfied with ourselves. We have demonstrated that when we play well we are a match for anyone."

Kevin Pietersen was understandably named man of the match for his first-innings double century that put England firmly on the road to victory after they had been asked to bat when conditions were at their most difficult. But it was Strauss's four-man attack - Jimmy Anderson, Broad, Chris Tremlett and Graeme Swann - who sealed the deal by twice bowling out the world's most celebrated batting line-up.

"Over the two innings I think that was as close to the perfect bowling performance we have had in the last two years, and that is saying a lot," said Strauss.

England's captain had special praise for Broad, whose place was under threat going into this series. He finished with seven wickets, and scored an important half-century, to justify the selectors' faith in him.

"When your place in the side is called into question it is as much a test of your character as anything else," said Strauss. "Stuart showed his class and it was a timely reminder just what a talented cricketer he is."

Strauss was pretty happy with Pietersen, too. "I think our first-innings total (474-8 declared) was a magnificent effort after we were put in, and KP was mainly responsible for that," he said. "I think that was one of the great innings since I've been involved."

Without yesterday's five-star bowling display, though, India would most likely have escaped with a draw - as they did when last visiting Lord's, four years ago.

Anderson finished as the star of the show with five wickets in India's second innings, enabling England to shrug off a couple of umpiring errors and two dropped catches. And, perhaps crucially, he ended what was probably Sachin Tendulkar's last Test innings at HQ - trapping the Little Master lbw.

The world's most successful batsman, hoping to score his 100th international century, was given a standing ovation when he walked out to bat. And another one on his way back, but with only 12 runs - rather than 100.

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