COLD COMFORT FOR FAVOURITES
IN DEAD HEAT
England v India • Chinnaswamy Stadium, Bangalore
27 February 2011
This was a key contest in India’s bid to wrest the title on home turf. Sachin Tendulkar and the belligerent Virender Sehwag provided a-run-a-ball start. After a charmed early life, the Delhi blaster fell for 35 off 24 deliveries with 6 boundaries, the total four short of 50. Gautam Gambhir helped the little master carry the team to a seemingly unassailable position. Tendulkar gradually assumed the role of aggressor. He tonked Paul Collingwood for 2 sixes, and then blasted Graeme Swann for two more off successive deliveries. James Anderson too came in for special treatment as the duo carved three boundaries in an over.
Just when they seemed to have seized control, with Gambhir bringing up his half-century, the canny Swann knocked back his stumps. The second wicket had realized 134 runs in 21.5 overs. Another left-hander Yuvraj Singh filled the breach, and India continued to cruise. Tendulkar raised his fifth hundred in the World Cup, flicking the ball off his hips to the boundary. He had faced 103 deliveries. In the next over he rocketed Swann for his 5th six. Now looking to score off every ball, Tendulkar fell for 120 off 115 balls, having cracked 10 boundaries besides his five delightful shots over the ropes. The stand was worth 56 in 8.4 overs. Skipper Mahendra Dhoni joined in the fun, helping Yuvraj add another 69 runs in just 7.4 overs. The latter brought up his fifty but the two strokeplayers fell off successive deliveries. At 305 for five, with 23 balls left, India were poised for a huge total. But the later batsmen floundered and the innings folded up in the penultimate ball for 338. Tim Bresnan, varied his deliveries cleverly, and bagged a five-wicket haul, conceding 48 runs.
England looked undaunted as the aggressive Kevin Pietersen and Andrew Strauss logged up 68 runs off nine-and-a-half overs. But it was when Ian Bell allied with his captain that India were pushed against the ropes. Strauss reached his century in 99 balls. The accomplished Bell too stroked on at around a-run-per-ball. The left-hander ushered in the hundred partnership with a six off Yuvraj over long-on. Bell celebrated by lofting leg-spinner Piyush Chawla for a similar six, thereby recording his own fifty. A hush fell over the packed Chinnaswamy Stadium as the pair progressed steadily. Powerplay and cramps had Bell attempting a big hit, only to hole out off the persistent Zaheer Khan. It was a 170-run partnership in 26 overs that seemed to have settled the issue for England. And then, coincidentally, Strauss was trapped leg-before-wicket off the next delivery, as Zaheer swung in his yorker. His 158 came off 145 balls with 18 boundaries and a six. Was the English innings replicating the Indian as Zaheer bent Collingwood’s off-stick, and Matt Prior too perished soon?
With 50 required off 28 balls and just four wickets left, the pendulum appeared to have swung back towards the hosts. But the euphoria was short-lived as the lower order swung their bats merrily. With seven wickets down, 29 were needed from the last two overs. Swann and Bresnan swept Chawla for sixes, and then the latter was bowled but 15 runs came off the over. Munaf Patel came on and Ajmal Shahzad crashed a straight six off the third ball. Five runs were needed in three deliveries, then two in one. Patel bowled full and straight, Swann drove to mid-off and scrambled a single. The scores were level. It was the fourth tie in the World Cup. The crowd was satiated. Strauss summed up the issue aptly: “We’re happy and devastated at the same time but privileged to play in a game like this.”
India 338 all out (49.5 overs),
England 338 for eight wickets (50 overs)
(Author Indra Vikram Singh can be contacted on email email@example.com).
Indian Spring will be released later this year.