England’s Tourists Seal Historic Pataudi Defence

A year that England started with a string of abject performances against Subcontinental opposition has ended with redemption in the most emphatic fashion.  After 28 years of bafflement and failure, the touring English triumphed on Indian soil, retaining the Pataudi Trophy with a 2-1 victory in this four-match series.

The result is made all the more astonishing by England’s haplessness in the opening match of the rubber.  India sealed a 9-wicket win thanks to a double-century by the impressive Cheteshwar Pujara and a haul of 13 wickets by the much-vaunted spin pairing of Pragyan Ojha and Ravichandran Ashwin.  Bar some forlorn resistance by Alastair Cook and Matt Prior in the tourists’ 2nd innings, England were poor throughout and seemed destined to relinquish their hold on the Pataudi Trophy.

Monty Panesar’s selection for the 2nd Test appeared to revitalise his side, as he and fellow tweaker Graeme Swann accounted for all but one of India’s 20 dismissals in a 10-wicket romp for Cook’s men.  England’s retention of the series trophy was then completed in the 3rd Test, as the hosts failed to curb Cook’s rampant run-scoring and India’s batsmen wilted under the pressure.

On a horribly slow and stodgy pitch in the final Test, the newly rediscovered confidence of the English batting unit saw the tourists to a hard-fought draw and a richly deserved series victory.

Winning the contest outright has allowed England to remain in second place in the League, marginally ahead of Australia.  The dogfight for ascendancy between the two Auld Enemies will provide an intriguing backdrop to the forthcoming back-to-back Ashes series.

India remain in fourth place, but will see their next series – at home against Australia for the Border-Gavaskar Trophy – as the perfect catalyst to reverse their recent descent down the table and to exact revenge for the 4-0 loss suffered Down Under last time the trophy was contested.

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