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Strauss delights in ‘perfect’ salvo

LONDON, England, July 26 – England captain Andrew Strauss said his side had come close to producing the perfect bowling performance to take 20 India wickets during a crushing 196-run in the first Test here at Lord’s.

However, Strauss warned England not to let their standards drop with the second Test of this four-match series starting at Trent Bridge on Friday.

Stuart Broad, reverting to a fuller length, led the way early on with four for 37 as India were bowled out for 286 in reply to England’s first innings 474 for eight declared.

And on Monday it was the turn of fellow seamer James Anderson to take centre stage, with the Ashes star returning figures of five for 65 as India, chasing what would have been a Test record fourth innings victory total of 458, were dismissed for 261.

India may have been missing injured opener Virender Sehwag, out with a shoulder injury, at Lord’s but they still boasted a strong batting order including Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar and Venkatsai Laxman.

But not even the celebrated trio could get India to a total of 300 in either innings, with first Broad and then Anderson denying Tendulkar, still stuck on 99 international hundreds, a maiden Test century at the ground.

“It was an outstanding bowling performance by the whole attack over five days,” said Strauss.

“You do have to work hard for your wickets here and I think it showed the value of persistent lines and lengths.

“That’s the only way of taking wickets here and I think we did that brilliantly,” added Strauss who has spent all his professional career with Lord’s-based county side Middlesex.

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“I think over the two innings that was as close to the perfect bowling performance we’ve had in the last two years and that is saying a lot because we have had a lot of exceptional bowling performances.”

Ashes-holders England will replace India at the top of the ICC’s Test Championship table if they win this series by two Tests.

But Strauss added: “We are aware it’s the opening salvo in the series. There’s a lot of cricket still to be played, so we can’t get too satisfied with ourselves. We have to be ready to go on Friday.”

Broad, having struggled lately, looked back to somewhere near his best with the ball at Lord’s.

He also made an unbeaten 74 as, with Matt Prior (103 not out), he helped rally England’s second innings from the depths of 62 for five to a total of 269 for six declared.

“When your place in the side is called into question, it’s a big test of character as much as anything,” Strauss said of Broad.

“Stuart showed immense character over the five days. He bowled very well and his second innings 70-odd was crucial to the outcome of the game.

“It was a timely reminder to everyone of what a great talent he is.”

Despite Broad’s all-round contribution, Kevin Pietersen was named man-of-the-match for his first innings 202 not out that laid the platform for England’s victory.

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Pietersen’s innings began in overcast, seam-bowler friendly conditions although India were handicapped by the loss for much of this match of left-arm quick Zaheer Khan, who broke down with a hamstring strain.

“That was one of the great innings I’ve seen since being involved with the England side, in very difficult circumstances,” Strauss said of Pietersen’s double century.

“He had to be smart in the way be played their seamers, he had to graft and then when we had the opportunity to attack, he attacked.”

England came into this contest on the back of seven wins in their previous eight Test series (the other was drawn away to South Africa) and Strauss said: “To be No 1, you have to grab your opportunities and I think we did that very well in this game.

“We have demonstrated that, when we play well, we are a match for anyone.”

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