The Seven-Match NatWest Series came to a tame end at Lord’s with England cruising to a seven-wicket win to clinch the series 4-3. England had to chase a moderate 188 which they did without sweating much. India’s fame batting order came to nothing against a hostile bowling upfront from Anderson and co. A couple of horrible umpiring decisions helped the homeside with both Rahul Dravid and Sachin Tendulkar robbed of their innings which could have changed the complexion of the game. Those two umpiring decisions shook India out of the contest.
Rahul Dravid won the toss this time and decided to bat first which was a brave decision as conditions were overcast. But Dravid had two frontline spinners in his line up, so it was better to get them to bowl when the pitch gets slower. There was a change in the Indian team with Ajit Agarkar making way for RP Singh. The most significant team change came from the homeside with Freddie Flintoff getting himself fit after taking a steroid injection; he got in for Alastair Cook. Indian batsmen have been used to whacking the ball on the up throughout their life. Today they were shown the reality of cricket with James Anderson greeting Sourav Ganguly with a nasty lifter first up that set the tone for the day. It was a barrage of short pitch stuff from Anderson and Ganguly was all at sea playing ugly looking hook shots. He finally got out in the 7th over after scoring 15 out of the opening stand of 26. Gambhir was also sent back by Anderson and India read a struggling 52 for 2 in the 13th. Tendulkar was the only batsman who was looking good against the short stuff. He took Flintoff for two boundaries in the all rounder’s first over.
Dravid joined Tendulkar and it needed these two batsmen to reconstruct the innings against a quality pace attack. Flintoff produced a magic ball which nipped back off the seam to cut Dravid into two halves. That delivery couldn’t quite get the inside edge off Dravid, but was good enough for umpire Aleem Dar’s finger to go up to give a shocker for Dravid. The Indian Skipper hesitantly walked off the park with a three-ball duck. After a couple of overs, Tendulkar was beaten outside the off to a delivery that held its line, a loud appeal from Freddie and the finger went up from Aleem Dar reducing India to 59 for 4! The two hasty decisions from Dar spoiled the fun for India in the series! Yuvraj and Uthappa did their best in reviving the situation with their attacking cricket but both fell playing injudicious shots. India slipped to a hopeless 119 for 6. First it was Uthappa (22 from 30) tempted in going for a lofted shot off Mascarenhas and then Yuvraj (28 from 44 including a hook for a six off Broad) guiding the same bowler to short thirdman.
India were just about to get packed for a cheap total but were somehow stretched to 187 with Dhoni getting a half century. Dhoni made 50 facing 72 balls with his innings containing 4 fours and a six. India were bowled out in the 48th over when Dhoni holed out to Anderson at long off. Anderson with 2 for 28 in 9 and Flintoff with 3 for 45 in 8.3 overs were too hot to handle. Mascarenhas in the middle overs pulled off a superb spell with 3 for 23 in his 10 including two maidens.
Matt Prior and Luke Wright started the English innings and it was just matter of time before both these dashers were dismissed. Having survived a leg before shout each, both right handers fell in RP Singh’s first over. First Wright was bounced out and then Prior edging an away going delivery that got the Indians into a huddle. But after those two wickets, RP Singh and Zaheer ran out of fuel forcing Dravid to bring on Piyush Chawla in the 11th over. Ian Bell as always in this series stroked his way in the middle and Pietersen once again worked hard in his innings. England were cruising with these two batsmen putting on a fifty-run stand before Bell was a victim of Pietersen’s bad calling. Bell made 36 in 40 balls with the help of six fours. England were 74 for 3 after 16 overs and then the partnership between Pietersen and Collingwood took them home with as many as 82 balls to spare. The only bowler who looked good for India was Piyush Chawla with his sharp turning legbreaks. Pietersen was the Man of the Match for his unbeaten 71 in 96 balls which had 6 fours and a six off Chawla. Collingwood played a free stroking innings of 64 from 73 with 7 fours and a six which came off a stunning pull from RP Singh’s bowling. The Player of the Series award went to Ian Bell for showing sensational form right through the series.