India bat their way into record books
Dravid's men took an unassailable 4-0 lead in 7-match series with a 4-wicket win over England. Full Scorecardindia Updated: Apr 07, 2006 11:54 IST
India, by beating England on Thursday at Kochi, won their third of the last four one-day series that they had played.
But this series has lost one-day cricket's most vital element--unpredictability. India would never mind though. Barring the first two matches, the next two saw India comfortably reaching home, both chasing and defending.
It was another anemic performance from England on Thurdsay, presenting India a four wicket win to celebrate.
There was never a doubt who was going to win this match. And India did just that by taking a 4-0 lead in the seven match series.
Chasing the target of 238 set by England, India reached home in the 48th over with Mahendra Singh Dhoni (10 not out) finishing the match with a single, and not with a six as he had done often in the past!
There was lack of excitement in this match, but man-of-the-match Yuvraj Singh deserves a pat on his back for the way he did everything -- batting, fielding, bowling. He was everywhere. Taking wickets, taking catches, getting runs as if he won't leave anything to anyone else!
It was because of his and Virender Sehwag, who was later to fail again with the bat, that India could so easily stop England from getting a score of around 280, a total they were threatening to reach at one stage when Kevin Pietersen was turning everything from off to leg with his magical wrists.
From 117/2 in the 22nd over, England were eventually all out for 237. They even failed to bat through the 50 overs.
Indian chase began and so began the hope that Sehwag would finally score at least a half- century. A hope that remained a hope. But Rahul Dravid carried on, Irfan Pathan chipped in and Yuvraj played another knock and shared another partnership with Suresh Raina which helped India win a match.
The start of Indian innings:
Both batsmen played their normal game. Dravid, a man in form, showed the straight bat.
Sehwag, a man in separation from form, batted in the same manner that once made Nasser Hussain call him a care-free dasher.
His mis-timed pull fell in no-man's land. But he won't stop going after his strokes. Flicking James Anderson over the in-field, he got two fours, which were breathtaking.
Dravid too played one, a pull, keeping it down for four. Hoggard knew he had no chance! Normal game.
Sehwag was looking good. As if, a few more hits and hundred was there for the taking.
After all, it was at this very ground that he scored his last one-day hundred (against Pakistan in April 2005).
But as it turned out, he fell to the same bowler he had got out to in the last match! Ian Blackwell, who bowls modest left-arm-spin, tempted him to pull, Sehwag (26 in 34 balls, 4 fours) obliged only to find Vikram Solanki at mid-wicket.
India lost their first wicket at 54. Sehwag lost another chance to score a big one. Almost a year has gone by. How many more chances does he deserve?
England's response to Dravid's knock:
Dravid batted beautifully for 65. He was looking good for many more until he played Andrew Flintoff to Matthew Hoggard at mid-off.
That was a wicket against the run of play. Such was his assured batting that his runs came off only 72 balls with nine fours.
Flintoff just took the second power play which fetched the team its second wicket. It also saw the fall of one more wicket.
Pathan (46 in 56 balls, 6 fours, 1 six), after playing yet another fine knock while coming in number three, got out. Again, that was about the batsman losing patience rather any great bowling.
Pathan stepped out to reach his half century in style only to miss the line. That was Blackwell's second wicket.
Yuvraj (48 in 54 balls, 6 fours) joined Mohammad Kaif, a man under immense pressure to score. Score he did, but only five and his uncomfortable vigil in the middle was over when he tried to hit Flintoff over in-field for a confidence boosting boundary.
But all he could manage was to find Anderson at cover. His wicket gave England some kind of confidence to fight back, even though it brought Raina in the middle to join Yuvraj.
Three wickets may have fallen in the space of four overs, but that could not stop the two left-handers - Yuvraj and Raina -- from building another substantial partnership.
Their sensible batting ended any hopes that England had of fighting back after they reduced the hosts to 152/4 in the 29th over.
Yuvraj was looking majestic whenever he drove or cut the ball, while Raina was milking the bowlers. It was a fruitful partnership.
When India were 14 runs adrift of the win, Anderson sent back Raina (21) and Yuvraj, which didn't have any bearing on the match. But that actually let the crowd see Dhoni with the bat who finished the match in the company of Ramesh Powar.
Some beautiful bowling by Indian spinners ensured that their batsmen didn't have to chase much at Kochi.
It could have been less had Geraint Jones not played a gritty innings of 49 after wickets fell in quick succession.
Though both Harbhajan Singh and Powar bowled well, it was the part-time spin of Yuvraj and Sehwag which did the maximum damage.
How they fell:
Dravid continued to use spin as the primary weapon. And the move paid off.
Ian Blackwell (6) was trying to rebuild the innings with Jones who was batting quite well. But the left-hander was never able to score freely against anybody.
And eventually he fell, giving Sehwag the simplest return catch possible. Sehwag would strike once more, this time James Batty was lbw. England were 203/8.
And that was after Vikram Solanki had found a puzzle in Powar that he couldn't solve.
After spending a miserable time, he was finally bowled, with the ball, pitching way out side off, turned, as they say, a mile, beating his bat, pad before hitting the off stump.
A classic off-spinner's dismissal.
Fall of KP, Freddie:
Kevin Pietersen was not the one to relent. Even after losing Paul Collingwood to the athleticism of Yuvraj, he kept on sweeping the spinners.
Flintoff made a cautious start to his innings. Not that he was required to fire from the word go. Pietersen was doing that collecting fours and sixes as a boy would toys.
Dravid used his second 'power play' in the 29th over. Pietsersen and Flintoff's could not resist. In front of them were spinners. Let's hit them over the in-field, they must have told each other.
Once Flintoff did hit over mid-on. But when Pietersen (77 in 82 balls, 6 fours, 2 sixes) tried to pull Harbhajan, all he could manage was a top-edge beautifully taken by Yuvraj at square leg.
Yuvraj came to bowl the next over. Flintoff (12 in 21 balls, 2 fours) came down the wicket, but his shot could only travel to Dravid at short mid-wicket. Powerful blow!
End of partnership:
Two wickets down on a good batting wicket in the sixth over, not the kind of start Flintoff was hoping for.
But in came Pietersen looking to make amends for the failure of his mates in the top order.
Dancing down the wicket to the pacers, he was looking imposing enough to frighten the tall stands of this stadium. When Sreesanth bowled one short, he pulled, all the way to the crowd.
It was a breathtaking counterattack and Collingwood was giving him very good support.
The scoring rate was going higher and higher as Ajit Agarkar was also hammered. Dravid turned to Harbhajan and the off spinner didn't take long to find his rhythm, stopping the flow of runs.
Pietersen changed his game, picking up the singles, he eventually completed his half century. And it still came at a great strike rate.
Collingwood (36 in 48 balls, 4 fours) was witty with the bat. Using his feet to Harbhajan, Powar and Yuvraj, he was working the ball in the gaps. But this brilliant partnership was finally broken when Yuvraj dived to his left to take a one-handed catch off his own bowling.
Early wickets for India:
Pathan's first over was harmless. Harmless, for India, harmless for England!
He only conceded two runs, but Andrew Strauss too never looked like giving a chance. The ball moved too much away from him. He left them alone, barring one which he played in between mid-wicket and mid on to get off the mark.
Sreesanth's first over was a busy over. The bowler was busy, trying everything to get the swing and length right. The crowd was busy cheering the local boy playing for India on home ground.
Matthew Prior was busy trying to answer Sreesanth's queries, but still he was squared up by one which was angled in and then moved away and the batsman could only see the ball disappearing with all the tricks of a runaway thief on its way to Dhoni.
But as has been the case in the recent times, it was Pathan who brought the first cheers from the Indians, Indians on the field and Indians off it.
After bowling the ones that moved away from Strauss, his in-coming ball had him leg before. England lost their first wicket at 10. And again, Pathan got an early wicket for India.
Three overs later, Sreesanth got the reward for his niggling line when Prior was caught behind.
England win toss:
Flintoff won the toss and elected to bat, seeking to exploit the good batting conditions of the Nehru Stadium on Thursday.
Kevin Pietersen, after missing the Goa ODI, made a return to the team. For India, S Sreesanth, the local boy, came in place of Munaf Patel.
The teams (from):
India: Rahul Dravid (captain), Virender Sehwag, Yuvraj Singh, Mohd Kaif, Suresh Raina, Mahendra Singh Dhoni (wk), Irfan Pathan, Harbhajan Singh, Ramesh Powar, S Sreesanth, Ajit Agarkar.
England: A Strauss, M Prior, I Blackwell, K Pietersen, A Flintoff, P Collingwood, V Solanki, G Jones, M Hoggard, G Batty, J Anderson.