England, India serve up thrilling tie
England and India played out an extraordinary tie in their Group B World Cup match in Bangalore on Sunday.
For long periods, England looked like they were cruising home, but a three-wicket burst by Zaheer Khan put the skids on their pursuit of the 339 victory target.
Man-of-the-match Andrew Strauss scored a career-best 158, to leave England on the brink of a famous victory.
But Khan led a spirited, late fightback by the hosts, as the sides produced just the fourth tie in World Cup history.
England entered the final ten overs of their nerveless chase requiring just 67 runs, but Khan’s double burst in the 43rd over saw both Ian Bell (69) and Strauss (158) depart, opening the door for the host once more.
Khan then dismissed Paul Collingwood with a clever slower ball, while Harbhajan Singh got rid of a twitchy Matt Prior to leave the English chase in tatters at 291 for 6.
Needing 29 off the last two overs, Graeme Swann and Tim Bresnan hit sixes off Piyush Chawla, before the leg-spinner bowled Bresnan with his final ball.
New man Ajmal Shahzad clubbed Munaf Patel for six, leaving England five to get off the last three balls.
They needed two off the last, but Shahzad hit it to mid-off for one, with both sides seemingly relieved they hadn't lost.
India had won the toss and chose to bat in excellent conditions. They almost lost Virender Sehwag to the very first ball of the match, as he sliced Jimmy Anderson just past Graeme Swann at slip.
Tendulkar’s 47th ODI century was a majestic 120 (a record fifth in the World Cup), whilst half-centuries by Gautam Gambhir (51) and Yuvraj Singh (58) saw India rattle along to 292 for 3 after 45 overs.
But instead of piling on the runs in the final five overs, India lost a spate of wickets to be all out for 338, with Tim Bresnan taking three in four balls to end with fine figures of 5 for 48 in his allotted overs.
England’s chase started strongly, with Strauss and Kevin Pietersen playing sensibly to add 68 before Pietersen was stunningly caught and bowled by Munaf Patel.
The seamer was actually trying to duck Pietersen’s searing drive, but he managed to parry the ball straight up, before plucking the rebound.
Strauss kept on going, reaching a run-a-ball 50 as England stayed in touch with the run-rate. Jonathan trot then fell to the guile of Piyush Chawla, leaving 111 for 2 after 17 overs.
Bell started tentatively, getting a real working over from Chawla’s leg-spin, before he settled to give Strauss the support he needed.
Bell did survive a big leg-before shout off Yuvraj, but he got the benefit of the doubt as he was a logn way down.
Strauss reached an imperious century off 99 balls, before he and Bell added 100 off 94 balls.
England were seemingly cruising it, before Bell started cramping. Once he and Strauss fell, the door was opened for India’s bowlers to haul their side back into a contest they got very close to losing.
Strauss said it had been a "privilege" to play in the dramatic match, and that he had mixed emotions after the nail-biting end to the game.
"We were in a great position to win the game after 41, 42 overs. We had a shocking powerplay and from that stage onwards India were favourites to win the game," he said.
"Ultimately it's just been a great game of cricket, there's no doubt about it. Great advert for the 50-over format. In some ways we're happy, in some ways we're distraught."
On his own knock of 158, he said: "It's the best innings I've played and hopefully there's some more to come."
Indian skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni praised Zaheer for bringing India back into the contest by removing Bell, Strauss and Paul Collingwood in quick succession.
"The way they were going, I think they got off to a very good start, I think Andrew (Strauss) batted really well. There was a time where it seemed like they were going to chase the score in 48, 49 overs," he said.
"I think the partnership, they were just two wickets down and the way both the batsmen were batting, it was getting pretty difficult for the bowlers.
"Zaheer came in to bowl a really good spell and brought us back into the game."
He said he believed a score of 338 would be enough to win the game.
"I think so because if 338 is not enough then every game you will have to look to score maybe 350 or 360-odd runs which I think is difficult.
Zaheer said: "I felt the wicket got better later on and Strauss obviously batted damn well to put pressure on us and it was a cliffhanger until the end.
"A win would have helped here but a tie is a also a good thing for the team. We've got some points out of this game," he said.
Additional quotes: SAPA-AFP
India: SR Tendulkar, V Sehwag, G Gambhir, V Kohli, Yuvraj Singh, MS Dhoni (capt & wk), YK Pathan, Harbhajan Singh, PP Chawla, Z Khan, MM Patel
England: AJ Strauss (capt), KP Pietersen, IJL Trott, IR Bell, PD Collingwood, MJ Prior (wk), MH Yardy, TT Bresnan, GP Swann, A Shahzad, JM Anderson