World champions fall from grace after spineless display

ASHISH SHUKLA Birmingham

A spineless India on Saturday tamely surrendered their number one status to a ruthless England as they slumped to an innings and 242- ru

n defeat to allow the hosts clinch the completely lop- sided four- match series by taking a 3- 0 lead here.

Indias nearly 20 months reign as the number one ranked Test team could not have ended in a more shambolic manner as they folded up for a paltry 244 in the second innings with an entire day to spare in what has turned out to be one of their worst overseas tours in recent history.

After conceding a mammoth first innings lead 486, the Indians had to bat out of their skins to save the game but the famed batting lineup fell like a pack of cards yet again to give the hosts their second successive victory within four days.

James Anderson was the pick of the English bowlers as he ripped through the top order to finish with figures of four for 85 while Stuart Broad ( 2- 28) and Graeme Swann ( 2- 88) chipped in to provide the finishing touches to the emphatic victory.

The worst defeat for India till now is by an innings and 336 runs against the West Indies in Kolkata in 1958 and the hapless visitors managed to avoid that ignominy.

Gasping at 130 for seven at one stage, captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni ( 74 not out) and Praveen Kumar ( 40 off 18 balls) unleashed some lusty strokes during their 75- run eighth- wicket partnership to provide some entertainment and delay the inevitable.

Sachin Tendulkar ( 40) was the only other batsman who managed to score some runs in the second innings before being tragically run our while most of the others played poorly on an Edgbaston track which certainly was not unplayable.

What had been billed as a

they travel to London for the fourth Test beginning at the Oval from August 18.

India had ascended to the top of the Test ranking table in December 2009 after beating Sri Lanka 2- 0 in the three- match series at home.

After that, India drew the series against South Africa and Sri Lanka. Then they beat Australia 2- 0 in October 2010, following it with another drawn series in South Africa.

But their inexplicably no time and all the talk of a better resistance from the visitors in the second innings proved to be no better than rhetoric.

This is only the second time in last 11 years when India has lost or been down in a series by 3- 0 margin.

Sachin Tendulkars men had a similar unworthy distinction on the tour to Australia in 1999- 2000 series.

India lost five wickets in the first session and the final four in the 90 minutes the fight out of the visitors.

Graeme Swann had a hand in the other two dismissals — claiming Suresh Raina ( 10) out leg before wicket and touching a backdrive on to the non- strikers end, which found Sachin Tendulkar ( 40) out of his crease.

Rahul Dravids dismissal served as a big blow for India.

He let go a wide delivery outside his offstump and nicked the next one to a delighted Matt Prior behind lasted a good 90 minutes as the visitors, through a mixture of luck and Dhonis slambang methods, added 128 runs from a mere 17- odd overs.

Amit Mishra played a few attacking strokes to race into 20s before Swann claimed his second wicket in his dismissal.

Mishra, good while he lasted at the crease, left hitting against the break of Swann and lofting it to midoff where Broad used his pacer looked in extreme pain and threw his helmet down on the ground in disgust.

After medical attention on the pitch, Praveen Kumar vent out his anger on Graeme Swann, smashing him for three successive sixes over long on.

Praveen survived a stumping chance off Swann in the next over when he came down the track to the offspinner and edged it past keeper for four.

Both Dhoni and Praveen The merriment came to an end when Strauss replaced Swann with Broad. Off the second delivery off the tall fast bowler, Kumar ba

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