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3rd ODI: All’s well that ends Bell

Bell top-scores for England for third match in a row to set up a convincing victory, reports Amol Karhadkar.

cricket Updated: Aug 28, 2007 11:41 IST
Amol Karhadkar

For a brief while, it was a day that made those watching hark back to five years ago. When then English skipper Nasser Hussain looked disbelievingly around him and reportedly muttered, "Which is the home team here?"

The veteran and the rookie were both gone. Sachin Tendulkar had perished early, trying to upper cut one pitched short and wide by James Anderson over point, and watching as the ball looped to Collingwood instead.

Dinesh Karthik, dubbed this tour's most exciting find, and coming in at No 3, decided to repeat Tendulkar's shot soon after. And ended up with the same result.

But the Indian supporters in the crowd, who had danced around in the stands all day and painted Edgbaston the shade of blue sky, refused to give up hope.

And for that while, while Sourav Ganguly and Rahul Dravid moved between caution and a carefree swinging of the arms in the course of a hopeful century stand, each run was cheered enthusiastically, each boundary got a rousing ovation.

But a target of 282 was always going to be difficult after all, the highest chase at Edgbaston was 280 and if India had to win, the Dravid-Ganguly stand, would have to have gone on for more than it did.

They had added 104 off 19 overs to pull India back when the Indian skipper, looking in sublime form like in Bristol, nicked a Chris Tremlett delivery that pitched outside off onto his thigh guard. It went onto hit the stumps and in a flash, the momentum shifted back to England.

Ganguly edged Tremlett behind not too much later and India were 149 for four. The odds looked stacked heavily against India by then, but the problem with that famed NatWest win of Lord's 2002 means that every time India are chasing a stiffish target in England and there's at least one decent batting pair left, people believe it can be done.

At that stage, 133 runs were needed off 109 balls and given the kind of attacking cricket both Yuvraj and Dhoni, the batsmen left, play, it was not an impossible ask. Both batted sensibly enough till Dhoni cut Anderson straight to Collingwood's hands at point. That was when people here started believing the party was over.

Still, Yuvraj was playing really well. And he has been talismanic for India. But the tail did not hang around and then Yuvraj was run out in an awful mix-up with Zaheer. India eventually lost by 42 runs and England go into the mid-series at Old Trafford 2-1 up.

Finally, India would be well aware that one of the major reasons England did so well was because they were the far superior team in the field. They saved boundaries and anything that should be caught, was caught.

Collingwood's field placements were innovative and worked and both he and Ian Bell were superb in the field. Bell in fact, also anchored the England innings for the third time in a row to help them put on a sizeable 281 for eight after being put in to bat.

He seems to be in form of his life. Bell entered the match after finishing as England's highest individual run-getter in the first two ODIs. And he yet again shaped up the innings with a sensible 79 off 89 balls. He now has 271 runs in the series at 135.50 and his form, and attitude he rotates the strike superbly when the big hits aren't there might be the difference at the end of the series.

That and India's fielding, which was as usual, off colour.