7th ODI: India finish series with big win
Indians overpowered England seamers to wrap up the series 5-1. Scorecardindia Updated: Apr 16, 2006 04:15 IST
Like the Prince of Thieves, Robin Uthappa showed the art of stealing runs from the opposition.
Though Sreesanth took away the man-of-the-match prize for taking six wickets on a pitch where almost all bowlers failed, Robin (86 in 96 balls, 12 fours, 1 six) stood out in India's seven-wicket win in the seventh and the final one-dayer against England on Saturday.
Rahul Dravid (69 in 79 balls, 9 fours) played another delightful innings, sharing a massive 166-run opening partnership with the debutant. Yuvraj Singh (63 not out in 57 balls, 6 fours) and Suresh Raina (53 in 66 balls, 2 fours, 1 six) shared another fine partnership.
It was only fitting that Yuvraj stayed there till India, chasing 289, reached home with five balls to spare. He did everything right in the series -- batting, bowling and fielding -- and ran away with his third man-of-the-series trophy in as many series.
It is he who might replace the struggling Virender Sehwag as the vice-captain when India tour West Indies for the next series.
Despite some exhilarating batting by Kevin Pietersen (64 in 56 balls, 11 fours, 1 six), England, after Dravid had put them in, realised that even a target of 300 could be less. Paul Collingwood (64 in 84 balls, 2 fours, 2 sixes) was a man in a hurry after 40 overs of the England innings, and eventually their lower-middle-order collapsed.
It didn't help matters that Sreesanth was putting his mind into his bowling, changing his pace, length, coming round the wicket, he kept on coming at them. He would cherish the six wickets he got. And India would cherish this win, which saw them finishing the series 5-1.
Again the team found itself in a bit of a trouble. And again it was Yuvraj and Raina who shared another good partnership.
India had just lost two quick wickets. The asking-rate was more than six. One or two more wickets, and anything could have happened.
But both the left-handers batted in the right manner, piercing the gaps, collecting the ones and twos, getting the odd boundaries without ever taking risks.
Though the required rate was still over six, these two ensured that, with wickets in hand, they could launch an attack later in the innings, which eventually they did with remarkable ease.
Two quick wickets:
It never rains. England must have felt that under the hot Indore sun.
Runs were raining from the blades of Dravid and Uthappa. 28 overs were bowled and England failed to get a single wicket until Uthappa was dismissed in the most bizarre way.
The debutant was batting so freely that he was nearing his century. He ran for two after playing a straight drive. But he started walking on his second run, thinking that the throw was at the non-striker's end.
Geriant Jones, the wicketkeeper deceived him, by collecting the ball in a flash and removing the bails before Uthappa could reach home.
It was an unfortunate dismissal, one that denied a talented young man a hundred on debut.
Soon England could celebrate once more. Sajid Mahmood, in his second spell, had Dravid plumb in front.
Within four balls, India, from 166/0, found themselves at 166/2. Suddenly, there was a rain of wickets.
The opening stand:
With a target as big as 289 to chase, Dravid came out to open.
There was no Virender Sehwag this time who was given some badly needed 'rest', which opened the door for Uthappa to get into the team.
He took first strike. For a first timer, nerves were not to be seen. Two beautifully played strokes on the on-side were on view. It was in the very first over bowled by James Anderson.
Robin was looking composed with his strokes. He seemed to lose his poise only when the England bowlers, Anderson and Sajid Mehmood, pitched it short.
Dravid was playing as he had been ever been, proving that you don't really need to hit in the air to get the boundaries during the Power Plays. The two gave India a very good start.
By the 15th over, Andrew Strauss, once again leading the side, used all his four seamers. But that couldn't stop the two Indians from hitting the fours whenever they got the width to drive, cut and pull.
It was very good batting, but England could have bowled better. Bowling to Dravid's legs means you are only asking for trouble. Dravid completed his half-century, and a very fluent one at that.
Uthappa's virgin international innings too fetched him a half-century. Soon after reaching the milestone, he showed authority against the short ball for the first time. Anderson aimed his ribs, but Uthappa rolled his wrist and the ball soared higher and higher, over fine-leg and into the stand.
It wasn't as savage as it was sweet. Two boundaries came in the next two balls, one an out-side edge (a handy one-day shot!) to the third-man fence and the other one drive off a low full toss. It was worth watching again and again.
Riding on fine half-centuries from Pietersen, Collingwood and Jones, England set India a difficult target to chase.
It was because of some very good batting from these three that England could score 288 in the stipulated 50 overs.
They were eventually all out while trying to score too many in the final overs. That should not take anything away from Sreesanth whose clever change of pace and length got him the wickets.
Pietersen was dismissed. But Collingwood won't relent.
He changed his gear once his partner perished. And that gave Dravid the space to breathe. Now he could bring back VRV Singh.
The rookie fast bowler came back and there was no Pietersen to frighten him any more. 37 runs in first two overs! One could not have been left with more bruises.
He bowled but Collingwood, in the company of Jones, was looking for the ones and twos. It was a good, sensible partnership; one that ensured Pietersen's mesmerising innings would not go in vain.
Collingwood then reached his 10th ODI half-century, and in a manner more stylish than the goggles Ramesh Powar was wearing, with his lofted shot soaring over the long on boundary and into the stands.
Jones was brilliant, finding the gaps at ease and Indian didn't know where to bowl.
KP at his best:
Two wickets had fallen in two overs. From 43/0, England found themselves at 47/2.
In came Kevin Pietersen to join Ian Bell. And little did VRV Singh, one of the fastest on the land, know what was to follow.
Pietersen hit him where he wanted, walking down, flicking over mid-wicket, to the long on, he took 22 runs in one over. No mercy was shown to RP Singh either.
This time KP drove, on the rise to long off and long on. The more KP batted, the more it became apparent that here was a man touched by the God. Indians felt the heat.
Dravid brought Powar. And the first ball produced a wicket, a run out, but a wicket nevertheless. Bell failed to beat the throw from the man at mid-on. It was a wicket, which came against the run of play.
Collingwood joined Pietersen and he got off to a flying start, by lofting RP Singh straight over for as big a six you could see.
Powar bowled a fraction short, and Collingwood rocked back to cut. It was attacking batting at its best as at the other end, Pietersen completed what was indeed a magnificent half-century.
The Indians were feeling the feat from Pietersen who was on a hot streak. But sometimes, the hunter becomes the hunted. And eventually, Pietersen fell to the heat of Indore.
He was struggling with cramps, a runner was called. But soon, he attempted to hit Yuvraj over mid-wicket, didn't get the distance, giving Robin his first international catch.
Andrew Strauss was batting as well as you have seen in all his career until he fell to the most harmless delivery of the morning.
Sreesanth bowled one that was going away from him, Strauss decided to chase, managed to get his bat on it, but an out-side edge was all that he could manage.
Dinesh Kaarthick dived forward and just managed to grab the ball before it could kiss the ground.
Third umpire's help was taken to clear the doubt. And eventually Strauss (25) had to depart.
Sreesanth gave India the wicket they so badly wanted. Matthew Prior joined Ian Bell, who was batting quite well, joined in the middle. Join he did but only for five balls as he fell to the trap.
Sreesanth bowled him the bouncer and Prior went for it, only to find Irfan Pathan at fine-leg. Two wickets in two overs. India could not have asked for more.
Both the England openers were confident in handling anything that the two Indian new ball bowlers had to offer.
Pathan bowled the first over and Strauss was watchful.
But the second ball he faced was short and wide and he gave the treatment Pathan was asking for by delightfully punching him to the cover off the back foot.
Sreesunth kept the ball in and around off stump. Bell is always happy to leave them alone. It seems England were determined not to lose any early wickets.
The left-hand and right combination of Andrew Strauss and Ian Bell means bowlers could never afford to err in line. Something that they did with Irfan Pathan conceding quite a few wides.
Strauss also never wasted a chance to punish the bad ball on either foot. He was looking in extremely good touch.
India dropped Mohammad Kaif. The gritty middle-order batsman was badly out of form. Shewag also made way for Uthappa. Geraint Jones comes back to the England team after missing the last match.
England: A Strauss, I Bell, M Prior, K Pietersen, P Collingwood, G Jones, I Blackwell, L Plunkett, Kabir Ali, S Mahmood, J Anderson.
India: R Uthappa, R Dravid, Yuvraj Singh, S Raina, YVenugopal Rao, D Karthik, I Pathan, R Powar, RP Singh, VRV Singh, S Sreesanth.