Manchester, United Kingdom – England captain Alastair Cook hailed a remarkable reversal of fortune after his side thrashed India to win the fourth Test by an innings and 54 runs inside three days at Old Trafford on Saturday.
Cook admitted England had been at “rock bottom” under three weeks earlier when a 95-run loss at Lord's – their 10th successive Test without a win – left them 1-0 down in the five-match series.
But having stopped the rot with a 266-run win in the third Test at Southampton, England completed an even more crushing victory in Manchester to go 2-1 up ahead of next week's finale at The Oval.
Having bowled India out for just 152 in the first innings, with man-of-the-match Stuart Broad taking six for 25, England then made 367 with young guns Joe Root (77) and Jos Buttler (70) putting on 134 for the seventh wicket.
But few could have foreseen the way the match was to end, with India losing nine wickets after tea on Saturday's third day in being dismissed for 161.
Especially as by then Broad was off the field with a broken nose suffered when he missed a Varun Aaron bouncer while batting earlier on Saturday.
“You don't often get nine wickets in a session against any team,” said Cook.
“We got on a roll straight after tea...Then we knew we could get the job done by tonight.”
He added: “We were pretty much at rock bottom at Lord's but with the glimmer of Rooty scoring a lot of runs, Gaz (Gary Ballance) coming in and doing really well and the younger guys who had come into the side.”
Cook's position as both captain and opening batsman was also called into question as he struggled for runs during the team's winless streak.
“It was a matter of the senior guys stepping up to the plate, and we have done that in the last couple of games,” added Cook, who made two fifties at Southampton.
“We have stuck together well in some tough moments this summer.
“We knew it would turn if we kept doing stuff but the longer we went on not winning games of cricket, the harder that became.
“To win at Southampton was massive and the challenge this week was to match the intensity.”
England did more than that, reducing India to eight for four inside six overs on Thursday after Mahendra Singh Dhoni, the tourists' skipper, won the toss and elected to bat.
“To set the tone like we did in that first morning Ä we didn't look back,” said Cook as he recalled a sensational start that saw both Broad and new-ball partner James Anderson, on his Lancashire home ground, take two wickets apiece.
Moeen Ali, just as he had done in the second innings at Southampton, where he took a Test-best six for 67 in only his fifth match at this level, played a key role in India's slump on Saturday with a return of four for 39 in 13 overs.
Ali may be the 'second off-spinner' behind Pakistan's Saeed Ajmal at county side Worcestershire, but his Test progress has delighted Cook.
“Moeen has improved rapidly. I haven't seen an improvement like that in an international player.
“He's bowled a lot of overs in the nets, worked really well with Belly (Ian Bell), who is a great player of spin, and worked out methods where he could contain when it's flat and hold an end up so you can rotate the four seamers.
“Here, it didn't turn as much as at Southampton, but he bowled at a really good pace and he didn't bowl too many bad balls.” – Sapa-AFP