5th ODI: India v England at Delhi, 31 Jan 2002|
ENGLAND WIN A THRILLER IN DELHI BY JUST TWO RUNSIt was a mighty close run affair, but England have kept their hopes of squaring the series alive by winning a classical one-day match in Delhi. Fortunes swung one way and then the other, on both a personal and team level, with the result in doubt right up to the final over and then the final ball. That was bowled by Darren Gough to Ajit Agarkar with five needed for victory, but it was just too tall an order for the brave Agarkar and England were home by two runs.
Chasing 272 to win, India got off to a rip-roaring start and then lost three wickets to give England the upper hand. James Foster missed an easy stumping to reprieve Sourav Ganguly who, in company with Mohammad Kaif, so nearly pulled India back toward victory.
Their partnership produced 111 runs in 19 overs as England continued to spurn chances. Foster dropped Kaif and Michael Vaughan scarcely laid a hand on simple chance offered in the covers by the same batsman.
Ganguly, who had been particularly severe on Ashley Giles, fell to the left-arm spinner at long-off for 74, Kaif went in the same over, and Giles, whose first spell produced figures of 4-0-32-0, went on to finish with 10-0-57-5.
When he bowled Anil Kumble, India were out of the reckoning at 239 for 8 after 46.1 overs. Then Agarkar and Sarandeep Singh swung and carved lustily, India were right back in it.
Nine runs were needed off the last over bowled by Gough. A dot ball to start was exactly what England wanted. Then four singles as Gough used all the experience of a hundred one-dayers, and the final ball to conclude as exciting a game of cricket as you would wish to see.
Andrew Caddick has been out of international cricket for a long time. He must have wondered about the wisdom of returning at all as Sehwag crashed the very first ball of the innings away through the covers for four. Another followed so there were ten off the first over. Sehwag was put down by Nick Knight at slip a difficult chance to his right off Andrew Flintoff in the second over before taking another boundary, and with Caddick going for nine in his second over, India were flying.
Tendulkar was once again playing second fiddle to Sehwag, but he was first out. A little extra bounce from Caddick and Tendulkar played a long way from his body to touch it through to James Foster.
Sehwag responded to that wicket by taking three fours off Flintoff's next over, but the first signs that England's bowlers could hold the scoring in check came when Caddick bowled a maiden. Darren Gough came into the attack for the eighth over and conceded one run, Caddick conceded just one from the next and it was 13 balls before Sourav Ganguly could get off the mark with a four straight back down the ground off Gough.
It was Gough who induced the outside edge by Sehwag that was easily taken by Knight at slip to make it 68 for 2 in the 12th over as Sehwag's dashing innings of 42 from 36 balls came to an end.
Ganguly should have followed him when he had made 14. He charged Michael Vaughan, missed, but so too did Foster. Foster grabbed at the ball and took it onto the stumps but the Indian captain was adjudged by the third umpire to have got his bat grounded. It was a desperately close call.
Foster made amends in part by holding a straightforward chance offered by Dinesh Mongia off Flintoff to mean that the game was very evenly poised with much resting on the shoulders of Ganguly. That was a thought that would have weighed heavily on the mind of Foster.
Knight and Nasser Hussain compiled the first century partnership of the series for England. They went about the task in a different manner to that which had been in evidence before, but whether this was a definite change in strategy or the result of some intelligent bowling on a slow surface remains to be seen. The Indian batsmen have the scope to make a mockery of what appears to be an adequate total.
Hussain did not appear to be in the best of health breathing heavily every time he ran and his timing was adrift as well. His 49 took 71 balls with only three boundaries after a glorious cover drive to the first ball he faced. Knight was also finding boundaries hard to come by as England appeared to be conserving wickets for a major assault at the end of their innings rather than at the beginning.
The score had moved on to 168 for 1 in the 36th over when Sachin Tendulkar bowled a ball just short of a length outside off-stump. Hussain tried to work it down fine, but got a reasonable deflection into the gloves of Ajay Ratra. As Hussain left, Andrew Flintoff came into exactly the sort of situation he should relish, with a license to play his big shots.
Unlike other appearances on the tour, this time he did not disappoint. The big Lancastrian fired off a clubbing cover drive for four from his second ball, and did not look back. He took 13 off one Tendulkar over, and 13 came from another from Javagal Srinath as the scoring rate started to climb past five an over.
Knight reached his century his fourth in one-day internationals off 126 balls with just the seven boundaries. It was a cornerstone innings that he played to perfection, except that he got out at just the time when he should have been set to plunder the final overs. He hit a firm shot to mid-wicket, hesitated for a moment, and that allowed Ajit Agarkar time to get a return to Srinath to complete a smart piece of fielding to run out Knight for 105.
He and Flintoff had put on 80 in ten overs, with the bulk of the scoring coming from Flintoff. He went on to fifty from 36 balls with six fours and a six, but reached the milestone with a single. He perished three balls later when deceived by a slower ball from Srinath that resulted in a one-handed shot reaching long-off. It was the ball after a quite inexplicable third umpire decision when Flintoff should have been given run out trying to regain his ground with his foot clearly in the air when the bails came off.
Graham Thorpe had little chance to come to terms with conditions and neither did Paul Collingwood nor Michael Vaughan. Nevertheless, England had to settle for what is probably a par score on this pitch. The game should be decided by either good batting or good bowling as should be the case rather than being won by default.
If there was going to be early help for the Indian seamers, it was not particularly evident. Nick Knight did, however, take a sedate approach to batting while Marcus Trescothick took a couple of fours off Ajit Agarkar and played a glorious straight drive off Javagal Srinath to add another boundary to his tally.
Trescothick was dominating the opening partnership as England adopted this more careful approach than had been evident earlier in the series. However, Trescothick would have benefited from a little more care in the 12th over when drove Agarkar in the air towards mid-off and Sarandeep Singh, in his first one-day international, held a smart catch that only just reached him.
Nasser Hussain announced himself in the middle with a copybook cover drive for four off the first ball he received. He could not maintain that momentum as the Indian bowlers exerted good pressure on a docile pitch that looked good for batting but without the pace that makes run-scoring easy.
Only Sourav Ganguly and Sarandeep proved expensive in the first phase of play. It was as if England had targeted Sarandeep. He was withdrawn from the attack and, when he returned, Knight reached his fifty with his fifth four in the 66 balls he had faced. It was not rapid progress, especially by Knight's own standards, but he was still there with his captain with batting to come and the possibility that, without a trademark collapse, England might be in a position to make the most of the closing overs.
The Ferozshah Kotla in Delhi traditionally serves up a very flat batting track. The wicket is hard, flat and hardly has any grass on it. The little grass here is dead and rolled in well. The wintry conditions however, coupled with the heavy dew will give the fast bowlers something to look forward to in the first hour or so.
In nine limited overs matches played at this venue India have won six and lost three, suggesting a strong record for the home side.
With this in mind, Indian skipper Sourav Ganguly put England in to bat on winning the toss. India have made one change to their side, bringing Sarandeep Singh in for Harbhajan Singh. England have shuffled things around a fair bit. Fast bowling spearhead Andy Caddick makes his return to the side and the feisty Matthew Hoggard will have to be content watching from the sidelines. Off-spinner Jeremy Snape makes way for Ashley Giles. With first choice keeper James Foster fit once more, Ben Holllioake misses out in the middle order.
Teams: England: Marcus Trescothick, Nick Knight, Nasser Hussain, Michael Vaughan, Graham Thorpe, Andrew Flintoff, Paul Collingwood, +James Foster, Darren Gough, Andy Caddick, Ashley Giles.
India: Virender Sehwag, Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly, Dinesh Mongia, Md. Kaif, Hemang Badani, Ajay Ratra, Ajit Agarkar, Sarandeep Singh, Anil Kumble, Javagal Srinath.
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Date-stamped : 31 Jan2002 - 14:42