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India wins thriller to level series
September 05, 2007 19:00 IST
Last Updated: September 05, 2007 23:22 IST
Robin Uthappa played a nerveless innings to guide India to a thrilling two-wicket win with two balls to spare in the sixth one-day international against England [Images] at The Oval in London [Images] on Wednesday.
Uthappa hit an unbeaten 47 that capped a brilliant collective batting performance and his innings helped India overhaul a challenging England target of 317 and level the 7-match NatWest Series 3-3.
The 21-year-old right-hander from Bangalore, who normally opens the batting, came in when India were 234 for 5 and needed another 83 from the last nine overs.
The youngster combined with Mahendra Singh Dhoni [Images] (35) to take the fight to the England camp, and despite the loss of his more illustrious partner, kept his cool to hit the winning runs in the final over.
The visitors needed eight runs from the four balls off Stuart Broad and Uthappa scooped a full toss to fine leg boundary before driving a volley to long off, triggering wild celebrations among the Indian players and fans.
The Indians, however, owed their win to Sachin Tendulkar [Images] (94) and Sourav Ganguly [Images] (53) gave India a flier of a start as they put on 150 runs for the opening stand. Their dismissals in the space of six runs slowed down the Indian run rate.
Tendulkar batted through the last stages of his innings in pain after hurting himself in a collision with Ganguly while taking a single.
Gautam Gambhir [Images] (47) then rose to the occasion, taking the scoring baton while Tendulkar struggled and as Yuvraj Singh [Images] took time to settle down. Gambhir and Yuvraj added 54 runs for the third wicket but three quick wickets again hampered their chase.
It was then left to Dhoni and Uthappa and they took on the England bowling gamely, until the former fell with two overs to go.
India's bowling inadequacies were brutally exposed as England overcame a poor start to go past 300.
Middle order batsman Owais Shah hit his maiden century to lead England's recovery and debutant Luke Wright distinguished himself with a quicksilver half-century.
Shah made an unbeaten 107 from only 95 balls with 11 boundaries and two sixes, while the 22-year-old Wright needed just 39 balls for his 50.
The duo put on 106 runs for the sixth wicket which lifted England from 137 for 5 in the 31st over.
But it was utility all-rounder Dmitri Mascarenhas who produced the real pyrotechniques of the closing stages as he smashed five sixes off the last five balls of the innings bowled by Yuvraj Singh.
That meant the unbroken seventh wicket stand between Shah and Mascarenhas fetched England 73 runs off 34 balls.
Captain Rahul Dravid's [Images] decision to ask Yuvraj Singh, who went for 59 runs from just five overs, would be questioned but he might have been helpless after Ajit Agarkar [Images] disappointed yet again, conceding 63 from eight overs for one wicket.
Kevin Pietersen [Images] (53) and Ian Bell [Images] (49) were the other notable contributors as they put on 59 runs for the third wicket after Alastair Cook [Images] (0) and Matt Prior [Images] (6) had fallen for 20 runs on the board.
The England innings was also marked by the controversial run out of skipper Paul Collingwood [Images].
Home umpire Peter Hartley remained unmoved after a throw from substitute Dinesh Kaarthick caught Collingwood short of the crease, but decided to refer it to the third umpire after the giant screen at the ground showed the television replay.
Pietersen and Wright were also run out, highlighting an improved fielding performance by the Indians.
Zaheer Khan [Images] (1-43), Piyush Chawla (1-44) and Ramesh Powar (0-44) were the impressive bowlers for India.
Shah got off the blocks with a boundary off Ganguly to the first ball he faced.
Wright broke the shackles around him in the 33rd over of the innings, cutting and sweeping Yuvraj Singh for a boundary and a six. The youngster was unstoppable once he got settled at the wicket as he sent the ball to all parts of the field with great power and authority.
Shah completed his half-century off 62 balls before smashing Agarkar full toss for a boundary and followed it up with a six over mid-wicket.
He then turned it on playing an amazing paddle sweep to a slower one from Agarkar before depositing another full toss off the very next ball to mid-wicket for another boundary.
A deliberate edge off Zaheer to the third man fence saw him moving into the 90's. And he finally reached his hundred with a scorching straight drive off Sachin Tendulkar in the 49th over of the innings.
His 100 came off 91 balls and was laced with 10 boundaries and two huge sixes.
Earlier, Zaheer gave India a perfect start when he had Alastair Cook caught at the wicket to the second ball of the innings.
And just two overs later, Agarkar complimented his efforts when he trapped Matt Prior leg before.
Bell and Pietersen then did a fine repair job putting on 59 runs in quick time for the third wicket.
Bell batted flamboyantly, picking handy boundaries off Indian pacers as they erred in length and direction.
Chawla came on to bowl in the 16th over of the innings, Bell immediately took him on clipping him over mid-wicket for a boundary. However, Chawla had his revenge in his second over when he bowled him as the batsman attempted another slog over midwicket.
And four runs later came the bizarre Collingwood dismissal in the 18th over with England at 83.