England beat lacklustre India, clinch ODI series
India fail to rise to the occasion as England beat them by seven wickets in the NatWest series decider, reports Anjali Behl.cricket Updated: Sep 12, 2007 19:35 IST
England crushed abject India to clinch the NatWest series in the seventh and final ODI at the Lord's on Saturday.
Skipper Rahul Dravid's decision to bat first backfired as the Indians failed to rise to the occasion. The hosts skittled out India for a weak total of 187 runs, before chasing it with seven wickets and 82 balls in hand.
The hosts took an early series lead but India did well to level it 3-3 in a close, competitive match at the Brit Oval on Wednesday. The series decider, therefore was expected to be one of its kind, but eventually it turned out to be a unilateral affair.
The famous Indian trio - Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly and Rahul Dravid, bid a lamentable adieu to the world's most famous cricket ground with a lacklustre performance on a day when it mattered the most.
RP Singh, who replaced Ajit Agarkar for today's match, gave the visitors a crucial breakthrough by taking two key wickets in quick succession. He removed Luke Wright and Matt Prior, each for a duck in the second over.
But, Ian Bell and Kevin Pietersen revived the hosts' innings with a 63-run partnership.
In the 16th over, India got a vital breakthrough as Bell was run out in Pietersen's attempt to take a run which was not there. The batsman walked back to the pavilion for 36.
India needed a few quick wickets to keep their dream of keeping the series alive. But, Paul Collingwood and Pietersen remained unbeaten while piling 114 runs to shatter the Indian hopes.
Pietersen was named the Man of the Match for his unbeaten 71.
Ian Bell was Man of the Series for his bedazzling run-getting skill throughout the series.
The trouble began when England speedster James Anderson bilked Sourav Ganguly's efforts to fire some impressive shots, by packing him early in the game. The Indian southpaw was caught by Andrew Flintoff at 15. His next victim was Gautam Gambhir (12), who was caught at square leg by Luke Wright.
Flintoff, who passed a late fitness test to replace Alastair Cook in the team, picked two controversial wickets for the hosts. First, he packed off Indian skipper Rahul Dravid for a duck. An over later, he claimed the prized wicket of Sachin Tendulkar for 30.
Sachin's face turned ashen watching umpire Aleem Dar's finger go up. The Indian ace eluded yet another century at cricket's most sought-after ground. A distinctly amused crowd booed for long.
After narrowly escaping death in the 20th over, Robin Uthappa eventually succumbed to Dimitri Mascarenhas in the 25th. A mistimed shot towards mid-off cost the batman his wicket for 22.
Mascarenhas returned to scalp Yuvraj Singh in the 31st over. Yuvraj (28) planted an easy catch to Collingwood at third slip. The pacer dismissed Piyush Chawla to claim his third wicket of the day. Matt Prior completed a neat stumping to dismiss the Indian for a duck.
Next, Monty Panesar removed Zaheer Khan for seven. All hopes hinged upon MS Dhoni, who tried, but failed to do enough on the occasion. The flamboyant batsman hit his 14th ODI half-century but three balls later, he was caught off Flintoff.
Anderson cupped a brilliant catch as India were bowled out within 50 overs.
England: Paul Collingwood (captain), Matt Prior, Luke Wright, Ian Bell, Kevin Pietersen, Owais Shah, Andrew Flintoff, Dimitri Mascarenhas, Stuart Broad, Monty Panesar, James Anderson.
India: Rahul Dravid (captain), Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly, Robin Uthappa, Gautam Gambhir, Yuvraj Singh, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Ramesh Powar, Piyush Chawla, Zaheer Khan, Rudra Pratap Singh.