Make no mistake; this is an Indian team that has achieved great things. The pity is no one would have known it from watching its three Tests in England.
India's third successive heavy defeat saw it surrender both the four-Test series 0-3 and the No.1 crown: a forced, unavoidable surrender, for England has bullied India into submission, winning the 50-50 moments and imposing its will all other times in between.
India had been asked, on Friday evening, to bat a little more than two days. Alastair Cook had done it in making 294. But for India's batsmen, who haven't come to terms with either the conditions or the English bowlers' success in exploiting them, it was too much of an ask.
Indeed, it would have been too much of an ask for any batting line-up; but the lack of spine (and skill) was galling — the spirited resistance came too late.
The innings-and-242-runs defeat had its roots in the first-innings collapse. The second innings, which played out on Saturday, hadn't the same influence on the third Test (England's 710 for seven declared in response to India's 224 all but ensured the result; England had only to bowl half-decently). But it was no less upsetting.
With Virender Sehwag suffering the shame of a King pair (two first-ball ‘ducks') on Friday evening, it was left to Gautam Gambhir and Rahul Dravid, India's best at batting time, to navigate the first session on day four. Neither could add to his overnight score.
James Anderson, who bowled superbly, accounted for both. Gambhir fell to the first ball he played on Saturday morning, a swinger from over the wicket.
It started just outside the line of Gambhir's legs. But the slight shortness in length, the angle of attack, and the movement, both in the air off the surface, had Gambhir fencing at the ball well away from his body. Graeme Swann took it at second slip.
Dravid's dismissal was part of a curious passage of play. At the end of a Stuart Broad over, Dravid sprinted off the field, presumably to attend to urgent business. He left the first ball on re-arrival, but the second was a taut out-swinger he had to play at, for it angled into him before deviating from the original path. He was adjudged caught-behind.
Hot Spot didn't register an edge; replays showed he might have nicked the aglet of one his bootlaces, producing the sound that was heard: despite looking uncertain, Dravid didn't review the decision, suggesting there might have been a faint snick — or at least enough confusion to lead the batsman into thinking there was one.
There were no doubts about V.V.S. Laxman's exit: another inch-perfect out-swinger — straighter than the one bowled to Dravid, but just as lethal, for Laxman moves less, laterally, than India's number three — gained the outside edge of the bat on its way to Matt Prior behind the stumps.
Anderson had taken all four Indian wickets to fall, Sachin Tendulkar who was fortunate to survive Anderson early in his stay, began to bat as he had in the second innings in Trent Bridge.
But his masterful 40 ended when he couldn't regain his crease at the non-striker's end after backing up. Swann, the perpetrator of the run-out, had earlier trapped Suresh Raina in front.
At 89 for six, India was looking at its worst defeat ever. M.S. Dhoni (74 n.o.), Amit Mishra and Praveen Kumar (40 in 18 balls) prevented that particular embarrassment, doing to England's bowlers what England has so often done to them this series.
Praveen, who was struck a painful blow on his fingers, took his fury out on Swann. Dhoni made his second half-century of the match, batting with the mix of adventure and shrewdness he had shown in the first innings.
But so deep in trouble was India that these bold efforts did no more than dent England slightly. For the first time since 1999-2000, when it was hammered by Australia, India had lost three successive Tests in a series.
India — 1st innings: 224
England — 1st innings: A. Strauss b Mishra 87 (176b, 13x4), A. Cook c Raina b Ishant 294 (545b, 33x4), I. Bell b Praveen 34 (43b, 6x4), K. Pietersen lbw b Praveen 63 (78b, 9x4, 1x6), E. Morgan c Sehwag b Raina 104 (199b, 11x4), R. Bopara lbw b Mishra 7 (15b, 1x4), M. Prior c Tendulkar b Mishra 5 (11b), T. Bresnan (not out) 53 (75b, 6x4, 1x6); Extras (b-11, lb-34, nb-15, w-3): 63. Total (for seven wickets decl. in 188.1 overs): 710.
Fall of wickets: 1-186 (Strauss), 2-252 (Bell), 3-374 (Pietersen), 4-596 (Morgan), 5-605 (Bopara), 6-613 (Prior), 7-710 (Cook).
India bowling: Praveen 40-13-98-2, Sreesanth 36-4-158-0, Ishant 37.1-7-159-1, Mishra 43-2-150-3, Raina 28-1-83-1, Tendulkar 4-0-17-0.
India — 2nd innings: G. Gambhir c Swann b Anderson 14 (42b, 2x4), V. Sehwag c Strauss b Anderson 0 (1b), R. Dravid c Prior b Anderson 18 (39b, 3x4), S. Tendulkar (run out) 40 (60b, 8x4), V.V.S. Laxman c Prior b Anderson 2 (21b), S. Raina lbw b Swan 10 (24b, 2x4), M.S. Dhoni (not out) 74 (79b, 13x4), A. Mishra c Broad b Swann 22 (28b, 4x4), Praveen c Bopara b Broad 40 (18b, 5x4, 3x6), Ishant lbw b Broad 0 (8b), Sreesanth c Pietersen b Bresnan 5 (13b, 1x4); Extras (b-6, lb-6, w-7): 19. Total (in 55.3 overs): 244.
Fall of wickets: 1-3 (Sehwag), 2-35 (Gambhir), 3-40 (Dravid), 4-56 (Laxman), 5-87 (Raina), 6-89 (Tendulkar), 7-130 (Mishra), 8-205 (Praveen), 9-221 (Ishant), 10-244 (Sreesanth).
England bowling: Anderson 18-3-85-4, Broad 12-4-28-2, Bresnan 10.3-3-19-1, Swann 13-1-88-2, Pietersen 2-0-12-0.
Keywords: India tour of England