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England had come in to the fifth Test match against India at Edgbaston playing the new brand of aggressive cricket - chasing everything what New Zealand had set them up in the fourth innings. England won at Lords chasing 279, 299 at Nottingham and 296 at Leeds comfortably and when Ben Stokes was asked at the toss which he won at Edgbaston, he confidently said: “ We have done very well chasing”.

His decision to put India in paid dividends when James Anderson and Mathew Potts knocked off India’s top five batsman for just 98 till Rishabh Pant happened. He, along with Ravindra Jadeja, put on 222 to put India in the driver’s seat at the end of first day and with the help of Jasprit Bumrah, put on a respectable total 416. And when India knocked off England for just 284 in the first innings, their bowling attack looked potent and one thought England would find it difficult to chase whatever India would set them in the last innings.

India, at the end of third day, were right on top leading by 275 and seven wickets in hand with Cheteshwar Pujara and Rishabh Pant at the crease. Any team would go on the backfoot and play defensive cricket to minimize the damage but Ben Stokes and his fellow bowlers had other ideas. They wanted to win and not draw the game and kept on attacking the Indian batsmen with three slips.


In fact, the biggest gamble Stokes took was to bring on Jack leach to bowl to Pant who has taken him for plenty in the first innings and it paid off. Bumrah created a world record hitting 35 runs in an over of Stuart Broad when he bowled short but England captain did not budge and used the same ploy and knocked off the tail with short pitched bowling and India - who at one stage looked to bat England out of the game - set England a target of 377 to chase in the fourth innings.

Mind you, no team had chased above 350 against India and England’s highest chase so far was 359 but this was a different England team - they were a new England team who did not care about losing. Their opening batsmen, Alex Lees and Zak Crawley came out all guns blazing and rattled the India bowlers - putting on 107 in 21 overs and setting the cat among the pigeons in the Indian camp.

In spite of losing three wickets for two runs after the opening partnership, the pair of Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow chased down the runs as if it was walk in the park. They put on a remarkable 269 at five runs per over, as if it was an ODI game and kept on coming at the Indian bowlers and never allowed them to settle. It was not slogging but proper cricketing shots and India had no answer to the Yorkshire duo of Bairstow and Root both of whom hit hundreds to take their team home to another win. And boy, what a win chasing 378 in 76.4 overs.

Yes, Bairstow was dropped twice but fortune favors the brave and both the English batsman blew the Indian team’s hopes of winning a series after 2007 and also robbed India of crucial World Championship points. This was like daylight robbery and the Indian camp had no idea how to stop this.

This is the New England team for you, who under Stokes and McCullum, had more clarity than the Indian dressing room - which makes chasing totals as big as 375-plus easier. Five weeks ago, it would have been scary but not anymore for this new England team.

- Cricket enthusiast Anis Sajan is the Vice Chairman of Danube Group