England paceman James Anderson paid tribute to the whole bowling attack after the hosts wrapped up a massive victory over India in the fifth Test at The Oval.
The tourists were subjected to a second straight loss inside three days as England sealed a 3-1 Investec series success with an innings and 244 run win, Chris Jordan picking up a career-best 4-18 after Joe Root’s brilliant unbeaten 149.
Anderson, who was named man of the series, moved ever closer to Ian Botham’s all-time England record Test wicket-taking tally of 383 with figures of 2-16 taking him to 380, and afterwards was keen to spread the praise to Stuart Broad, Jordan and Chris Woakes.
“It’s right up there... it’s the best I’ve probably bowled, yeah,” he said of his own form.
“The way the whole group has bowled has been outstanding since Southampton.
“We’ve got on top of their batsmen and not let them get back in any of the games we’ve played. We’ve created pressure non-stop.
“That’s a credit to all – not just the four seamers, but Moeen Ali as well.”
On what had changed since the loss at Lord’s, he said: “We decided to concentrate not on plans for particular batsmen, but on what we do well – hitting the top as much as we could, challenge their outside edge, challenging their forward defence. And I think as we’ve gone on through last three Tests we’ve improved on that in each game.”
Man of the match Root hailed the way the team had bounced back after the Lord’s defeat.
“It was a tough time,” said the Yorkshireman. “To bounce back like we did has shown a lot of character. A lot of guys have had to dig deep. It’s really pleasing to see the way we’ve finished it off.”
Asked what had changed in his approach, he replied: “Just generally looking to score – I think I’d got into a place where I was just looking to survive in the winter – and just trying to put pressure on the bowlers when I get the opportunity to. Hopefully that can continue and I can keep improving.”
The home seamers hunted as a pack, as they had two days ago, to hustle hapless India out for only 94 in 29.2 overs overs and earn their second-highest margin of victory against the tourists.
After Root (149 not out) completed his fifth Test century, captain Alastair Cook unleashed Anderson, Broad et al – with a 338-run lead on the board.
But it was Jordan who cashed in as India’s embarrassingly swift descent was all over by tea.
Anderson began the rout when he numbered Murali Vijay as his 379th victim – pinning the opener lbw on the back foot.
The tourists then suffered another comical indignity when out-of-form Gautam Gambhir contrived to run himself out just as a sudden downpour was setting in to make his misjudgment the last act before lunch.
The left-hander pushed Anderson to midwicket, set off and was sent back by Cheteshwar Pujara – but not before Woakes’s direct hit broke the stumps.
When they returned after a near two-hour rest, things simply went from bad to worse for them as England went for the quick kill.
It was already hard to see how they could possibly survive against the moving ball – off the pitch still, and in the air.
That was soon much more evident as Anderson followed a series of inswingers at Pujara with the perfect follow-up, holding its line and taking the edge behind.
Broad then had Ajinkya Rahane edging low to be brilliantly caught by Gary Ballance, diving to his left one-handed at third slip.
Woakes was soon in the wickets too, seeing off Mahendra Singh Dhoni for a duck via an inside edge to short leg.
Jordan produced an especially good outswinger to end Virat Kohli’s hugely disappointing series with an edge to slip, and then Ballance juggled another catch up from third to second as Ravi Ashwin went to the same bowler.
India were in fast and terminal decline. Jordan settled the only outstanding question, whether Anderson would have to wait to reach Botham, when he found another edge and England accepted more slip-catching practice from Bhuvneshwar Kumar.
Root had begun the day with 92 to his name, and wasted no time moving to three figures as the hosts rushed along to 486 all out.
Jordan fell to Ishant (4-96), following one that held its line to end an eighth-wicket stand with Root of 82.
Broad then joined in the fun and dished out a little belated retaliation for the broken nose he suffered last week, standing tall for three trademark off-side boundaries in the same over.
India’s misfortune was cruelly underlined when Ishant bowled Root off an inside edge and pad only to discover – even as the batsman was walking off for 110 – that there would be a reprieve because he had overstepped for a no-ball.
Broad made a quick-fire 37 before Anderson went lbw to bring a natural close to a dominant innings by England.