England's bowlers fought their way through dogged batting, the absence of DRS for lbws and some sloppy catching to avoid a repeat of Lord's 2007 and finish a comprehensive win 28.3 overs before the gruelling final-day scrap was to be called off.
Scorecard and Final day in pics
India's four big hopes survived 93, 113, 56 and 68 deliveries, which meant England were made to work for the wickets, and also that they never let those batsmen feel they were in. James Anderson took out Rahul Dravid, VVS Laxman and Sachin Tendulkar, although it could be argued that his were the knockout blows after the softening up done by Stuart Broad and Chris Tremlett. Not that any man in the England side will mind how the wickets came.
Although there were two dropped catches and two controversial lbw not-outs involved, it all went down in a manner suggesting England had scripted it thus. They wouldn't have budgeted for the strongest resistance to be coming from Suresh Raina, who told his critics he belonged with a fighting 78, but by the final session an erstwhile Anderson was in red-hot form, completing his 11th five-for by breaking through that final piece of Indian fight with a beautiful in-swinger from round the stumps. Initially Anderson fed off the immense pressure created by Tremlett and Broad, and Graeme Swann did his thing by accounting for one of the best players of spin today, Gautam Gambhir.
It was just as well that England finished India off, thus avoiding what would have become a major controversy had India hung on with one wicket in hand. The moment when Hawk-Eye and the umpire would be in disagreement was much dreaded, and showed up twice in potentially crucial circumstances. Both were off Broad, when he had comprehensive cases for lbws against Tendulkar and Raina, and would have successfully challenged the original not-out decisions on both occasions had DRS been employed for lbws. Those two calls cost England 15.4 overs, potentially a deciding delay in such matches.
Those two would have left Broad wondering what he needed to do to get a wicket. He had had two catches dropped off him in the first innings. And in the morning session, after Anderson had drawn Dravid into a rare loose shot outside off, he regularly beat Laxman's bat in a five-over spell, often proving to be too good to take the edge.
And while Andrew Strauss's catching at slip and his defensive in-and-out fields in the first session could be argued against, his bowling changes worked like a charm. About 20 minutes before lunch, he brought on Anderson, who began with a long hop, which Laxman pulled straight to short midwicket. Laxman denied England for 113 deliveries.
That brought together India's walking wounded, Gambhir and Tendulkar. Bravely they hung in, Gambhir for 56 balls with a painful elbow and Tendulkar for 68 balls coming out of a viral infection. Whatever be the debate surrounding DRS, the umpires had a great match, and it was obvious in Gambhir's lbw in the over after Laxman's dismissal. It was the Swann arm ball, and the ball had hit the pad a microsecond before it did the bat. Asad Rauf sent him on his way.
From the injured man the burden now transferred to the ill man, Tendulkar, who began positively but found himself a shell post lunch. That Raina looked more comfortable than him during their 17.4-over partnership should tell a story. While Tendulkar was solid in defence, he let the bowlers bowl to a perfect rhythm, and the odd one was bound to be too good.
After surviving that Broad shout, Tendulkar played 40 balls for one run. Once again Anderson came back and struck immediately. He had Tendulkar dropped by Strauss fourth ball, but two balls later, produced an in-swinger similar to Braod's earlier one, and Tendulkar was plumb this time.
In the lead-up to tea, with England easing the pressure a bit as they built up to the new ball, Raina and Dhoni gave India hope. Raina especially showed character in how he avoided the bouncers and reached a half0century that will only do him good. With the new ball, though, England were back to the script. The ball started jagging around again, and a shaken-up Dhoni finally and fatally poked at an out-swinger from Tremlett.
A cold, ruthless demolition of the tail followed. Harbhajan Singh refused to back away, but England worked him over with precise short deliveries. Praveen Kumar didn't stand that much of a chance. Raina got a gem from Anderson, coming in from round the stumps, then leaving him, taking the edge. Broad deservedly ended it all with a plumb lbw; the last four had fallen for 18 runs.
Scenes of elation followed for the England team and the biggest crowd at a Lord's Monday, but England will feel relief too at finishing off a job, and not only because they righted what happened in 2007. Had India drawn this, they would have had positives to look at; now they have injured bodies and a series deficit.