London, Aug 22: Sachin Tendulkar came agonisingly close to a phenomenal 100th international century before a pathetic India slumped to an innings and eight runs defeat in the fourth and final cricket Test to give a ruthless England a resounding 4-0 series win here today.
Needing to bat out the entire fifth day to save the game, Tendulkar (91) led a spirited fightback alongwith Amit Mishra (84) but the complexion of the game changed dramatically after their dismissals as the visitors lost as many as seven wickets for a mere 21 runs to be all out for 283 in the second innings just at the stroke of tea.
With this emphatic victory, England officially crowned themselves the number one team in Test rankings with 125 points followed by South Africa with 118 points.
The Indians, who started the series as the number one Test team, surrendered the number one tag after losing the third Test in Birmingham and have now slipped to the number three position following the 4-0 whitewash.
Spinner Graeme Swann was the wrecker-in-chief for England with with impressive figures of six for 106 while Stuart Broad chipped in with two wickets.
Resuming at the overnight total of 129 for three, Tendulkar and Mishra raised hopes of drawing the game as the duo put on 144 runs for the fourth wicket but Mishra's departure virtually opened up the floodgates as none of the Indian batsmen showed the determination to hang around for long.
The visitors suffered a stunning collapse, losing their last seven wickets for 21 runs, a reflection of the caputilation which has been a feature right through the series.
Tendulkar and Mishra, who resumed this morning, continued the good work for the first 40 minutes after lunch but then both were gone in quick succession.
Mishra started the rot when he played inside the line to a Graeme Swann delivery and his off-stump was pegged back. The gusty knock by the leg-spinner lasted for 184 minutes and 141 balls and his 84 runs included 10 fours.
From the other end, India suffered the double blow when Tendulkar was given out leg before wicket which appeared a harsh decision as the Tim Bresnan delivery appeared to be heading down the leg stump.
Television replays showed that the ball would have hit the top of the leg stump.
Tendulkar made his 91 runs in 239-minutes and 172-ball innings, slamming 11 fours. It was not the best of his knock as he was dropped on scores of 70 and 85 off Swann and there was also a stumping against the off-spinner which went abegging last night.
India's innings unfolded quickly as Suresh Raina took his second duck from the match, out again to Swann but this time leg-before-wicket.
England claimed the second new ball as soon as it was due and its' effect was immediately apparent. Mahendra Singh Dhoni (3) slashed at a wide delivery from Stuart Broad and was caught at second slip.
RP Singh departed in the same over when he edged an outswinger into the gloves of wicketkeeper Matt Prior. PTI