India, England in epic draw

NORMAN DA COSTA, Special to QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 5:32 PM ET

An epic encounter, this match between India and England will go down as the greatest Cricket World Cup match ever played. Two glorious centuries, 676 runs and, in the end, it was fitting that the spoils were shared with one point to each team.

In a match never lacking in twists and turns , both teams hammered 338 glorious runs apiece with England captain Andrew Strauss and Sachin Tendulkar carving out magnificent centuries at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bangalore.

Strauss compiled a magnificent 158 and his innings left his opposite number, Mohinder Singh Dhoni, searching for answers as he picked apart India’s bowling with ease. This should set off alarm bells and there will be questions asked about the way Dhoni handled the field placing in the first 10 overs.

After India’s innings, a fan hoisted a sign that read “Indian curry too hot for the English.” Little did the fan know that Strauss must love the Bangalore cuisine, as he feasted on what the Indian bowlers had to offer.

Strauss cut, drove and made intelligent use of the sweep in his knock that came off 145 balls and had 18 fours and a six. He shared stands of 68 with opener Kevin Pietersen (31) and 170 with Ian Bell (69).

Strauss and Bell moved their side easily to 281 for two and disappointed Indian fans headed for the exits as it appeared England was well on its way to an easy and comprehensive win. Then paceman Zaheer Khan struck removing Bell (69), Strauss and Collingwood to send England reeling to 285 for five.

Late hitting from Graeme Swann and Ajmal Shahzad — who smashed his first delivery for six off Munaf Patel — gave England another chance with 26 runs off the last two overs. An England win seemed assured when it required five runs off the final three balls from Patel. It came down to two runs from the last ball but Patel held his nerve to restrict Swann to one.

Prior to this dramatic finale, it was Tendulkar who took centre stage. It was vintage knock by the world’s greatest batsman as he motored to his 98th international century and send the crowd into ecstasy.

He was the backbone of India’s innings with 120 off 110 balls. The experienced Indian icon thrilled the fans with his exquisite strokes all around the wicket and, when he departed with 11 overs and the score on 236 for three, India had every reason to believe that victory was theirs.

The Little Master stroked 10 fours and five sixes and two of those came off consecutive balls off spinner Graeme Swann. It was his fifth World Cup century, the most by any batsman.

James Anderson, who was flogged for 91 runs in his 9.5 overs, ended Tendulkar’s glorious innings. It was some relief for the beleaguered paceman, whose analysis was the most expensive by an Englishman in the World Cup.

Tendulkar shared a 46-run stand with his opening partner Virender Sehwag (35), put on 134 for the second wicket with Gautam Gambhir (51) and 56 with Yuvraj Singh (51).

India then threw caution to the wind as it felt that a total of 350 was possible. But paceman Tim Brennan then derailed this runaway Indian batting machine to send back Dhoni and Yusuf Pathan on consecutive deliveries.

India’s last seven wickets fell for a meagre 33 runs, thanks to Brennan’s outstanding haul of five for 48 runs.


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