England secure draw in thrilling match
Cricket:England and India tied one of the World Cup’s greatest matches after Andrew Strauss and Sachin Tendulkar each hit scintillating centuries at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium. Strauss’ career-best 158 carried England to within sight of a tournament-record 338 run chase.
It initially faltered thanks to the bowling of Zaheer Khan, but late hitting from Graeme Swann and Ajmal Shahzad — who smashed his first delivery for six off Munaf Patel — gave England another chance with 28 runs off the last two overs.
Ultimately, though, it was one point each for the Group B front-runners via the fourth tie in the history of the competition after Swann could scramble only a single from Patel’s final ball with eight wickets down under lights.
Tendulkar’s 120 made him the first batsman to hit five centuries in the World Cup. But Strauss responded to oversee a confidently-paced response on a near perfect batting surface, until Zaheer (three for 64) took three wickets for one run in six balls.
He saw off Ian Bell (69) and Strauss with successive deliveries — and with two new men in on nought, the match suddenly appeared to hurtle away from England. After Strauss and Kevin Pietersen had made an excellent start, Bell joined forces with his captain to put on a ground-record 170 for the third wicket.
Strauss had warned yesterday that England were out to spoil India’s party — and they did in part, even after Bell had mis-hit Zaheer to cover in the batting powerplay and then his captain was pinned lbw by a searing yorker.
England had never successfully chased a total of more than 304 in any one-day international, but appeared undaunted until Zaheer’s telling intervention. Strauss, who escaped barely a half-chance to a diving Harbhajan Singh at wide mid-on off Munaf Patel on 22, became the sixth Englishman to top 4,000 ODI runs when he reached 41.
Pietersen was gathering momentum with every shot but hit a blistering straight drive to be wonderfully well caught and bowled at the second attempt by Patel. Jonathan Trott was lbw on the back foot to a Piyush Chawla googly.
But Bell batted sensibly and increasingly well in England’s best World Cup partnership for the third wicket. He survived one moment of controversy when Yuvraj Singh thought he had him lbw sweeping via DRS, only to discover — with Bell halfway back to the pavilion on 17 — that big-screen simulation showing the ball hitting middle-and-off was irrelevant, because it struck pad too far down the wicket.
Strauss needed no such good fortune, in a 145-ball innings containing 18 fours and one sumptuous six over long-on off Yuvraj. But after England lost four wickets for 25 runs in an ill-judged powerplay, even the late heroics were not quite enough for outright victory.
Tendulkar had lost his dangerous opening partner Virender Sehwag relatively early to Tim Bresnan (five for 48) but then shared stands of 134 with number three Gautam Gambhir (51) and 56 for the third wicket with Yuvraj (58).
He brought up a series of personal and team landmarks with sixes on the way to his 98th international hundred, creating the impression he was able to clear the ropes almost at will.
But Tendulkar had to settle for an eighth four, deflected off his hip to fine-leg off Bresnan, with which to complete his 47th ODI hundred from the 103rd ball he faced.
By the time he was finished, chipping a leading edge to cover off James Anderson, he had hit 10 fours and five sixes after India had won the toss. His innings, at a compact venue which simply could not contain his strokeplay, was full of the expert wristy placement and clean timing which has made Tendulkar unarguably one of his sport’s all-time greats.
Among England’s sufferers, James Anderson fared appreciably the worst — recording England’s most expensive World Cup figures of 9.5-0-91-1, in the biggest total they have conceded in any edition of this tournament.
With Stuart Broad unavailable, back at the team hotel with a stomach upset, Anderson might have had Sehwag three times in his first over — the opener somehow chipping and edging unconvincing shots just out of the fielders’ reach.
Sehwag continued with his instinctive aggression until Bresnan, in his first over after replacing Ajmal Shahzad at the north end, got the breakthrough thanks to an athletic catch behind by Matt Prior.
The wicketkeeper could get his gloves nowhere near a half-chance when the advancing Gambhir, on 14, edged one from Swann that went quickly on with the arm and resulted in four lucky runs to fine-leg. But the impressive Bresnan then distinguished himself by bowling a maiden to Tendulkar as England briefly exerted a modicum of control.
The highest second-wicket stand on this ground was largely unblemished, broken only when Swann found sharp turn from a good length to disturb Gambhir’s off bail. Thanks to Tendulkar’s departure, India lost a little momentum as the batting powerplay brought only 32 runs.
That, and Bresnan’s three wickets in four balls of the 49th over for a maiden five-wicket haul, did not seem especially significant after Yuvraj had hit his team’s third half-century from only 46 balls to help plunder 91 in a hectic last 10 overs.
But Bresnan, who turns 26 tomorrow, very nearly ended up with much to celebrate along with his captain and team-mates.