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Pietersen ranks India series with 2005 Ashes

Published:Wednesday | July 27, 2011 | 12:00 AM
England's James Anderson (second left) celebrates with Kevin Pietersen (right), Matt Prior (left) and Graeme Swann (second right) after claiming the wicket of India's Suresh Raina during the fifth day of the first Test match at Lord's cricket ground, London, on Monday. - AP

LONDON (AP):

England's series-opening victory over India at Lord's has presented the home players with what they say could be their most crucial summer for six years.

Monday's convincing 196-run win sets up a real possibility that England could get the two-match winning margin they need to unseat India at the top of the Test rankings, an achievement that man-of-the-match Kevin Pietersen said could be as important as winning the Ashes back from Australia was in 2005.

"Potentially, this is as big,'' Pietersen said after a record fifth-day attendance of 28,500 at Lord's. "You can see that from the number of people who turned up in the morning. As we drove here, the lads were commenting on the number of people outside. For us, as players it's magnificent that the public think it's such a big series.''

England won the Ashes for the first time in 18 years with a 2-1 victory in 2005 and has now won three of the past four series against their old foes.

That sort of form has propelled England up to third in the Test standings, within striking distance of India. The second Test begins Friday, giving England the perfect opportunity to keep up momentum.

The short break should certainly help England, rather than injury-hit India.

Unchanged squad

The England and Wales Cricket Board picked an unchanged squad for the Trent Bridge Test, with pace bowler Tim Bresnan included alongside the 11 players who excelled at Lord's.

But any changes to the attack are unlikely.

James Anderson jumped to second place in the International Cricket Council's bowling rankings after his second-innings 5-65, while Chris Tremlett's four wickets took him up to a career-best ninth. With spinner Graeme Swann in third place, England currently have three of the top 10 bowlers in world cricket - more than any other side.

"I think over the two innings that was as close to the perfect bowling performance we've had in the last two years,'' England captain Andrew Strauss said. "And that is saying a lot because we have had a lot of exceptional bowling performances.

"It was an outstanding bowling performance by the whole attack over five days.''

Things look very different for India, with several players exhausted after the Indian Premier League Twenty20 tournament.

Spinner Harbhajan Singh fell from the top 10 after struggling at Lord's, while pace linchpin Zaheer Khan could sit out the second of the four Tests after pulling his hamstring on Thursday.

"It became quite tough for us after losing Zaheer Khan in the first session on the first day,'' India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni said. "It was very difficult to bowl with three bowlers. We just needed that one extra bowler and things could've been different.

"We have three days but I'm not 100 per cent sure if we will play him or not. It is a long series and we don't want to risk any individual if he is only 90 per cent fit.''