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India fightback in the series through a strong batting show

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India fought back into the NatWest Series with a strong batting performance in the 5th ODI at Leeds. Having posted a huge target of 325 which was revised to 311 in 45 Overs, Indians picked up wickets at regular intervals to go onto win the match by 38 runs according to the Duckworth Lewis Method. Sourav Ganguly playing his 300th ODI shone with both the bat and the ball to pick up the Man of the Match. From England’s point of view, it was sad to see Paul Collingwood get stranded on a brilliant ninety when rain robbed the final few overs of the game.

Paul Collingwood for the first time in the series won the toss and put India to bat first under overcast conditions. The injured Flintoff was replaced by Jon Lewis while the Indians managed to get Zaheer Khan to match fitness. They did make a change in going for Gautam Gambhir instead of RP Singh. A spectacular opening stand between Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly put India on the frontfoot with a century stand. Tendulkar was in incredible touch, going brutal at the bowling. Tendulkar blazed his way through with a whirlwind 71 from 59 with 13 fours before he was caught behind by Prior, who was standing up to the stumps to Jon Lewis. The start from both Tendulkar and Ganguly was a cautious one but exploded all of a sudden once the bowling was measured. Tendulkar fell in the 20th over having got 116 on the board with Sourav who fell a few overs later trying to lift Monty out of the ground. Ganguly made 59 from 79 with 7 fours and two sixes.

Gautam Gambhir sent in at no.3 was trying his best to keep the momentum going along with Yuvraj Singh. Both batsmen had plenty of luck. Gambhir was first dropped by Pietersen at covers when he was on 18 which was followed by Yuvraj not given out despite getting a clear nick to the keeper off Monty. The two left handers took India to the slogs with a well paced 94-run partnership. Gambhir fell in the 42nd over in a pull shot off Stuart Broad. He made 51 from 66 with 5 fours. Yuvraj’s power packed innings came to an end when he was lofting Collingwood against the wind towards long on but not before doing significant damage. Yuvraj smacked 72 from 57 with 10 fours and two sixes that took care of the second half of the Indian innings. After a brief rain break after the 47th over, Dravid and Dhoni came back to take India to 324 at the loss of 6 wickets. Both made identical scores of 24 from 17 balls. Dravid’s innings had a spectacular six over covers off Stuart Broad who had an extremely bad match conceding 84 in his 10 overs.

During their chase, England lost an early wicket of Cook with Agarkar removing him with an outswinger. Ian Bell would have been out off the next ball after Cook’s dismissal but for a dropped catch at second slip from Ganguly. Early on it was Tendulkar putting down Prior off Zaheer. Both batsmen Prior and Bell made India pay for their errors with a strokeful partnership that brought England into a strong position. The breakthrough for India came through a fantastic piece of stumping from Dhoni in the 14th over. Ganguly had beaten Prior with a late outswinger which dragged him out of the crease and Dhoni did the rest. Prior did well in his innings of 46 from 45 with 4 fours leaving England at 97 for 2. It was good for the homeside that Pietersen walked in with plenty of time to work his way through but he fell quickly for a third ball duck. The trick of having Zaheer bowl the one extra over, his 8th one on the trot worked for Dravid as the left armer squared up KP to find the edge which was taken by a diving Dhoni. In the next over, England found themselves in serious trouble as Bell was brilliantly caught behind by Dhoni off Sourav’s outswinger. Bell by then was looking threatening with his 38-ball 44 which had 8 fours. The catch was a stunner from Dhoni as the edge was traveling quickly from the blade and it was a catch standing upto the stumps!

There was once again a rain intervention in the game and this time the Indians were frustrated as they fell short of the 20 overs that constitute a complete match. Fortunately the action was back with the target revised to 311 from 45. Owais Shah after getting bogged down was caught behind by Dhoni off a straighter one from Powar in his very first over that saw England to 145 for 5. The required run rate was always climbing up for the homeside. Bopara who had dislocated his thumb while trying to take a return catch offered by Gambhir earlier on showed some grit by coming onto join Collingwood. In the company of Bopara, Collingwood pulled off a couple of sixes with slog sweeps to get some interest back in the game. Powar spoilt that with a wonderful flight and loop that foxed Bopara to induce a leading edge. Stuart Broad’s magic with the bat didn’t work out today as his stay in the middle was short lived for just the three balls. England slipped to 196 for 7 after 33 overs. Collingwood managed to get few more runs with Jon Lewis who was out after making 17. Lewis fell miscuing a pull shot off Agarkar which was a skier taken by none other than Dhoni who went onto take his sixth dismissal of the day! The rain had hit the ground once again and now there was no chance at all for the match to resume. Collingwood had to stay unfinished on 91 that had come in just 71 balls with 3 fours and four sixes.

England had to abruptly finish their innings at 242 for 8 in 39 overs. India were the winners by 38 runs as they came back in the series to make it 2-3. The remaining two games of the series are in London. The Man of the Match award went to Sourav Ganguly. His bowling figures were a tidy 2 for 26 in 7 overs.

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