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England cruise to victory in series decider
September 08, 2007 19:07 IST
Last Updated: September 08, 2007 22:26 IST
Form deserted the Indian batsmen when they needed it most and England [Images], riding on twin unbeaten half-centuries by Kevin Pietersen [Images] and Paul Collingwood [Images], trounced the lacklustre visitors by seven wickets to pocket the seven-match one-day international series 4-3 at Lord's in London [Images] on Saturday.
Chasing 188 for victory, England cruised to the target with 82 balls to spare and bulk of the runs came from captain man of the match Pietersen (71) and Collingwood (64 not out).
Earlier, England bowlers took the upper hand when they skittled out India, albeit with the help of couple of poor decisions from umpire Aleem Dar, for a meagre 187 in 47.3 overs.
Skipper Dravid opted to bat but India lost wickets at regular intervals. Mahendra Singh Dhoni [Images] (50) top scored for India, while in-form Sachin Tendulkar [Images] returned to a dubious decision after a 46-ball 30.
For the hosts, Dimitri Mascarenhas (3/23) and Andrew Flintoff [Images] (3/45), coming back from a injury, did most of the damage.
After winning the historic three-match Test series 1-0, Rahul Dravid's [Images] men found themselves trailing 1-3 on the one dayers, after punctuating the defeats at Southampton, Birmingham and Manchester with the win at Bristol.
Within a week, India bounced back with wins at Leeds and The Oval to level the series, which set-up the Lord's encounter as a grand finale. But in the end, it were the hosts, playing under a new skipper Collingwood, who had the last laugh.
England had an easy target but RP Singh's two-wicket burst in the second over of the innings jolted them, and they lost one more wicket before Pietersen and Collingwood took them to victory with sedate knocks.
Defending a paltry total of 187, Indian bowlers knew they stood hardly any chance in the match but RP Singh still injected some life in it with those strikes that left the hosts to 11 for two. The only other time India celebrated was when Ian Bell [Images] returned run out for 36.
RP Singh drew the first blood when Luke Wright went for a pull only to allow the bowler a world of time to place himself under the ballooning ball. And two balls later, it was Matt Prior [Images], who edged behind the stumps before he could open his account.
Bell and Pietersen then arrested the slide before an almighty mix-up saw bowler Sourav Ganguly [Images] collecting a low throw from Tendulkar and whip off the bails with Bell's outstretched bat hanging in the air.
Pietersen, who had not played a major role in the series so far rose to the occasion and together with Collingwood played with utmost confidence and did not relax till the job was done.
In the end, Pietersen was not out on 71 that came off 96 balls and included six boundaries and a huge six off Piyush Chawla; his nemesis in the series.
Collingwood took 73 balls for his 64 runs, that had seven boundaries and a six.
Earlier, Rahul Dravid's decision to bat first clearly boomeranged as India's top order witnessed a spectacular batting collapse, thanks to dubious decisions against Tendulkar and Dravid, coupled with some poor batting.
A packed audience was disappointed as India lost their way from 52 for 1, losing their last nine wickets for just 135 runs and made the cardinal sin of not lasting their full quota of fifty overs, being dismissed in 47.3 overs.
Tendulkar (30), who has been in awesome form, got a rank bad decision from Pakistani umpire Aleem Dar and same was the case with Dravid, who lasted just three balls.
But that apart, none of the Indian batsmen displayed the desire to stay at the wicket. Yuvraj Singh [Images] and last match's hero Robin Uthappa got out to soft dismissals after looking good.
India's number seven batsman, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, showed necessary resilience that was missing from his more reputed colleagues to top score with a battling half-century.
Dhoni battled adversity by taking the attack to the bowlers, hitting four boundaries and one towering six off James Anderson before falling to Andrew Flintoff for a 72-ball knock of 50.
Flintoff (3 for 45), who missed the last two games due to an ankle injury, bowled with venom to prize out the key wickets of Dravid and Tendulkar while James Anderson (2/28) bowled impressively yet again, cleaning up Sourav Ganguly and Gautam Gambhir [Images] in his first spell.
However, it was Dimitri Mascarenhas who finished with the best figures of 3 for 23 from 10 overs.
England catching was top class too, with Luke Wright and Anderson taking excellent catches to dismiss Gambhir and Dhoni respectively.
The 'Big Three' of Indian cricket Tendulkar, Ganguly and Dravid, playing their farewell innings at Lord's failed to play a major knock.
Tendulkar again became a victim of poor umpiring decision when his pleasing knock was cut short on 30 (46b,4x4) by umpire Dar who ruled him caught behind off Andrew Flintoff as he looked to play an expansive drive and was beaten. He was stunned to see the finger go up and walked back with disappointment writ large on his face.
Ganguly lived dangerously from the beginning, playing a few audacious shots in the air before edging Anderson to Flintoff at second slip for 15 (22b,2x4) while Dravid fell for a three-ball duck.
The Indian captain shook his head in disbelief as umpire Dar ruled him out caught behind off a rising delivery from Flintoff, even though television replays showed that he missed the ball.
Ganguly preferred to use the long handle early in the innings. He charged down the wicket to hit Stuart Broad over cover for his first boundary before playing a few shots in the air that eluded the fielders. Then he ran out of luck in the 7th over when he poked his bat at Anderson and was caught at second slip.
Tendulkar looked determined to make the most of his final appearance at Lord's. Accordingly, after a cautious start, he got into the mood pulling Anderson off his front foot for his first boundary. When Flintoff came on to bowl, he smashed him for two consecutive boundaries over point and cover.
Gambhir fell to a brilliant catch at square leg by Luke Wright, who dived forward to take a low catch at square leg as he pulled a short one from Anderson.
From a decent 52 for 1 in the 13th over, India lost three wickets in 18 balls to slip to 59 for 4 in the 16th over. It soon became 119 for 6 in the 31st over when Yuvraj Singh and Robin Uthappa fell to soft dismissals.
Uthappa (22) square drove and hooked Flintoff for two boundaries in an over but he got carried away and was deceived by a slower one from Anderson that he hit straight to Mascarenhas at mid-off.
Yuvraj Singh started off well, pulling Broad over mid-wicket for a six. He even looked to have got into his groove, scoring 28 off as many balls before he fell to a lazy stroke gliding Mascarenhas straight to Collingwood at short third man.
Dhoni stuck it out gamely at one end but was hopelessly lacking in support from the other end as Ramesh Powar, Piyush Chawla and Zaheer Khan [Images] collectively lasted just 28 balls.
Dhoni displayed some fireworks to collect handy boundaries before Anderson took a brilliant catch in the deep, running yards to his left at long-off.