LONDON (AP) — England's bowlers destroyed India's batting order once again, dismissing the tourists for only 94 runs to seal a 3-1 series victory on day three of the fifth test at the Oval on Sunday.
Chris Jordan and James Anderson spearheaded England's brutal bowling attack as the hosts thrashed India by an innings and 244 runs — the tourists' third heaviest test defeat ever. India has now lost both its last two tests within three days and by an innings defeat each time.
India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni — who scored 82 in India's first innings 148 — was asked if the series defeat could bring an end to his six-year captaincy.
"You'll have to wait and watch," he answered, before lamenting the poor form of his top batsmen.
"It's a reflection of batting that has not done well," Dhoni said about India's three consecutive defeats. "We have not been able to get a good opening partnership, because of which Cheteshwar Pujara has had to go in early in almost all the innings. We keep exposing our batsmen, who are going through a lean phase. If you lose too many early wickets, it is difficult to put runs on the board."
It marks a huge turnaround in the status of the rival captains from the second test at Lord's, where India recorded a brilliant 95-run victory to lead the series 1-0.
At that point, all the pressure was on Dhoni's opposite number Alastair Cook. England were winless in 10 tests, having been whitewashed 5-0 in the Ashes before losing a test series at home for the first time to Sri Lanka, while Cook himself was enduring a barren spell with the bat.
Now, after three consecutive victories resulting in an emphatic 3-1 series win and individual scores of 95, 79 and 70 since that defeat, Cook has silenced critics, including past England captains, who were demanding his resignation.
"I still thought we were going to win the series (after going 1-0 down) but I didn't think we would quite so emphatically," Cook said. "English cricket needed a series win. Lord's was very tough, losing there, but I am quite stubborn and believe in my ability and I am resilient, and that was when I needed it most. To bounce back as a team is testament to our character."
England's day began brightly when Joe Root, resuming on 92, made his fifth test century by whipping Ishant Sharma's delivery for three between mid-on and midwicket.
But Sharma struck with the next ball, as Jordan edged behind to Dhoni for 20.
Jordan's dismissal brought Stuart Broad to the crease, who instantly forged an aggressive partnership with Root. The duo punished India with 63 off 41 balls for the ninth wicket, smashing India's bowlers all over the ground, much to the delight of the home crowd.
Broad even had Jacques Kallis' nine-year record for the fastest test-match 50 in his sights when he hooked Sharma for six and followed with a single to reach 35 from only 15 balls.
Kallis reached his half century from 24 deliveries against Zimbabwe in 2005 but Broad, who has a fractured nose after edging Varun Aaron's bouncer into his grille in the fourth test, could only increase his total by two.
After displaying early aggression against Sharma's short bowling, he understandably ducked out of some intimidating deliveries coming up at head height.
Sharma eventually avenged Broad hitting him for six when he got another brutal short ball gloved to Virat Kohli at third slip. Broad's 37 came from 21 balls.
Root thought he was out on 109 when he dragged Sharma's delivery onto his leg and into the stumps, but a television replay showed Sharma fractionally overstepped the line for a no ball.
Ravichandran Ashwin finally ended England's first innings, removing Anderson lbw for 1.
Root finished unbeaten on 149, an innings that won him man-of-the-match.
India was 9-2 at lunch in reply after Anderson trapped Murali Vijay lbw for 2 and Chris Woakes ran out Gautam Gambhir on 3 from mid-on.
Gambhir wandered from his crease as he contemplated a quick single, and Woakes ran in and ruined his stumps with a direct hit.
And despite the start of the second session being delayed by 50 minutes due to a brief rain shower, England continued to enforce its advantage.
Pujara edged Anderson behind to Jos Buttler for 11 before a brilliant catch from Gary Ballance, diving across from third slip to grasp a thin low edge with one hand, saw Ajinkya Rahane (4) fall to Broad.
Woakes followed up by inducing an edge from Dhoni to Sam Robson for a duck.
Jordan was then introduced into the bowling attack and propelled England to victory with figures of 4-18. He dismissed Kohli (20) with a delivery that swung late and got a nick to Cook at first slip. Ashwin (7) followed with Bhuvneshwar Kumar (4), both catches taken by Ian Bell.
Aaron (1) was then run out when Moeen Ali and Buttler combined before Jordan's bouncer could only be fended skywards by Sharma and Ali was underneath to catch and seal victory for England.