Then you have to be ruthless in situations like the one England found themselves in during this test match.
When your opponents are a bit rusty – and lose a quality bowler from a 4 man attack during the first morning, have to rearrange their batting order due to injury and illness and were already missing a quality player like Virender Sehwag – you have to make sure you cash in. And that’s exactly what England did.
All in all, I also think India can take a lot of heart from this performance. They played on a flat track with a 3 man attack, Tendulkar was never at the races due to illness and they also suffered an injury to Gambhir, so to take the game as close as they did is a major achievement. They can be proud of their performances.
If you want to be ultra critical, you could say that India never exploited the conditions very well on Thursday and they also let England off the hook after lunch on Sunday after Ishant Sharma’s fine spell got them back in the match.
It could also be pointed out that it is India’s own fault they were undercooked and that could have contributed to Zaheer’s injury. England have rightly been heavily criticized in the past for such poor preparations, so India should be open to it also.
Could Duncan Fletcher be the consistent theme there?
From an England perspective, I was delighted to see Kevin Pietersen shut a few of his detractors up with his 2nd double ton in less than 9 months. It never ceases to amaze me just how quickly ex players seem to jump on his back.
Jonathan Trott again steadied the ship with an excellent 70 in the 1st innings when England could have struggled in the trying conditions. I think a mark of how far England have come as a side is that if they had played in those conditions 12-18 months back they would probably have been something like 60/4 by lunch.
Matt Prior again showed how good a counter puncher he is with the bat. Not sure how useful he would be defending for a draw, but he is a great attacking option and he certainly speeds the game up with his batting.
The bowling unit was again excellent, to bowl India out twice for less than 300 on this pitch is a good achievement. I thought Jimmy Anderson was becoming the new Ian Botham with the wickets of Dravid and Laxman with awful balls, but he bowled well enough to justify his five-for.
Tremlett and Swann played their parts, Tremlett could easily have had more than the one wicket in the 2nd innings. While Broad justified his selection with a great all round performance, only KP’s double prevented him getting Man of the Match in my view. Andy Flower’s pre match kick up the arse seems to have done the trick.
Tim Bresnan must have mixed feelings of what might have been. He will no doubt be happy with the England win, but he must be wondering when his chance will come again now.
Which leads me onto my biggest praise of all – the selectors and the England management. Yet again they were proved right with their patience as they made the right call in sticking with Stuart Broad. We all think we know better, but time and time again they get it right and prove us all wrong.