The T20 Champs were put to test at a wet Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bengaluru today with the Men in Blue asked to defend 198 in 22 overs which they did to seal the ongoing 7-ODI Series 4-0. England failed to capitalize on the favourable conditions to mess up with their chase and fall short of the Duckworth Lewis Target by 19 runs. It was a stop-start match at Bengaluru which ended up in a thrilling finish with the Indian bowlers and fielders holding their nerve. It was England’s best opportunity to taste victory with the bowlers struggling to get a grip on the ball but the visitors approached the chase in the old fashioned mode and were left stranded with too many to get in the final overs.
Toss : Kevin Pietersen won the crucial toss which enabled his side to book the chasing part of the match. Duckworth Lewis was going to play inevitably as the conditions remained gloomy at Bengaluru. India brought in Sachin Tendulkar in the place of Rohit Sharma and the Boss was made to open the innings with Sehwag. England stuck to the same side that lost in the 3rd ODI.
Sehwag, Yuvraj power India to a defendable target
India had to start off normally thinking that the innings would last 50 overs. Sehwag with his new partner Tendulkar looked set to put away the bad deliveries and at the same time see through the new ball spell under the cloud cover. During the 8th over, play was halted as the bowlers’ footholes were being repaired by the groundstaff. Once it was done, the man on strike Sachin Tendulkar (11 from 21 with 2 fours) seemed to have totally lost his concentration as he drove along the wrong line to be bowled by an incoming delivery from Stuart Broad. England had their chances after that but couldn’t grab onto them and the next pair of Sehwag and Gambhir made them pay for their mistakes. When the rain hit the ground for the first time, India got into a decent position at 82 for 1 in 14 overs.
Play resumed after a couple of hours at around 5:50 PM and the match was curtailed to 44 overs. India were suddenly forced to play out their batting powerplay without their choice and the two batsmen – Sehwag and Gambhir had to show some aggression. Both batsmen picked up runs at a fair clip until rain came again to halt the proceedings at 6:10. During this small passage of play, Sehwag took Stuart Broad to the cleaners to race away to 69 from 56 balls with 3 sixes and Gambhir on 33 from 31 with 6 fours. This time the rain stayed for a long period and enough water was collected on the outfield. Chances of play looked absolutely bleak but once the rain stopped, the groundstaff worked out of their skin to get the outfield to playable conditions.
The match restarted at 9:13 after three hours of interruption and the contest was reduced to 22 overs. India suddenly found themselves in the last five overs of their innings and had to go for the leather every ball. Sehwag showed the way with a first ball six after the break and after his exit along with Gambhir, it was all upto Yuvraj Singh to pull out the sixes for India. For the record, Sehwag (69 from 57 balls with 9 fours and three sixes) and Gambhir (40 from 37 balls with 7 fours) holed out to the deep trying to get the big shots. The only thing in favour of India was that Flintoff, Anderson and Broad could not bowl a single over as their quotas were over already. But the spinners did do a good job with their full length deliveries. Yuvraj Singh though was determined to send the ball into the crowd whenever possible and he struck three brilliant sixes while MS Dhoni and Yusuf Pathan hit one each into the crowd to help India to 166 for 4. Yuvraj played the crucial cameo making 25 from 11 balls and India ended up with 60 runs in those 5 overs and had lost just three wickets which were instrumental in the target getting increased to 198 from 22 overs according to the D/L Method.
Zaheer’s brilliant bowling makes England fall short
It was a sorry start for England as they stuck with the same batting order at the top. Ian Bell and Ravi Bopara had struggled against the moving ball and the innings went nowhere. Bopara (1 from 7 balls) just when he looked to have played a good pick up shot was stunningly caught by a diving Ishant Sharma at mid on. Ishant, who had a hair cut finally, had lifted the spirits of the fielding side with that magical catch. England’s struggle continued with Ian Bell not able to play any big shots and Owais Shah not really getting off to a flier. In the 8th over, there was a huge relief for England as Ian Bell (12 from 15 balls) got cleaned up in a sweep shot by Harbhajan. England got a big blow when Kevin Pietersen (5) got bowled by Ishant Sharma’s skidding delivery while trying to back away and make room. The batting side slipped to 52 for 3 in the 9th over, clearly making the chase very difficult for themselves.
It was now all upto Andrew Flintoff to blast his side to an improbable victory but it was Owais Shah, who was stealing the limelight as he kept finding the middle of his bat often. Things changed quickly now for the visitors as Harbhajan Singh’s full tosses and quicker ones were smacked out for runs. In the 17th over, India found the much needed breakthrough when Owais Shah miscued a full toss up from Zaheer in the air to make it 134 for 4. It was a superb innings from Shah as he smashed 72 from just 48 balls with the help of 9 fours and 3 sixes. The very next over, India could get a firm grip on the match as Andrew Flintoff (41 from 30 with 3 fours and a six that hit the roof of the stadium towards mid wicket) drove an Ishant Sharma wide and slower full toss straight into the hands of Zaheer at extra covers. The 17th and the 18th overs were infact the third powerplay period taken by the batting side and all they could get was 14 runs with the loss of two set batsmen. Zaheer Khan was absolutely cool under pressure giving away just four runs in the 17th over by bowling right up in the blockhole.
England were stranded with 54 from 24 balls and the writing was on the wall for an Indian victory. Paul Collingwood hasn’t been in the best of forms and he was perhaps the only one who could pull off a win for his side now. However, a couple of good overs from Harbhajan and Zaheer made the equation tougher at 38 from the final two overs. Ishant Sharma and Munaf Patel held their nerve giving away just 16 runs in those final two overs. Collingwood was helpless in his innings of 22 from 14 ball as England reached 178 for 8 in 22 overs. The three Indian pacers took two wickets each to help their team win the match while the spinners struggled to get a grip on the wet ball. Zaheer was the stand out performer with 5-0-20-2 besides helping the other two fast bowlers get their field settings and the plans right. The Man of the Match was given to Virender Sehwag. The teams now move northeast to Cuttack in Orissa where they play a day night contest on the 26th.