India cruise to 5-1

It was yet another comfortable victory for India over England, despite England’s best show with the bat to date.

Neither team put out their strongest line-up, Geraint Jones and Kabir Ali returned for England, while India gave a debut to opener Robin Uthappa and Dinesh Karthik replaced the rested Dhoni.

Andrew Flintoff was still absent, so Strauss led England again, losing the toss and being put in to bat. As they did at Jamshedpur, England’s openers, Strauss and Bell gave England a solid start, putting on 43. It was Sreesanth who broke the partnership, and in his next over he struck again to remove Matt Prior.

India would have been happy with England being 59-2 after 15 overs, but that was before Pietersen got going. After Vikram Singh proved expensive on his debut, he was to prove yet more so here. He conceded 11 from his first over and 26 from his next. RP Singh came in for punishment too, Pietersen clubbed him for three consecutive boundaries.

His brief but fruitful partnership with Bell ended when he called for a single that wasn’t there. Both batsmen ended up at the same end, and Bell unselfishly sacrificed his own wicket.

With runs flowing freely, Dravid brought on his spinners, in Yuvraj Singh and Romesh Powar. They cut off the flow of boundaries, and while Collingwood was able to use his feet to pick up singles, Pietersen struggled with knee trouble, and holed out for 64.

Jones and Collingwood kept things ticking over, adding 40 in overs 31-40. In the last 10, they began to cut loose, each smashing Powar for a six. Jones treated Vikram Singh with a similar disdain to Pietersen, taking 16 off his seventh and last over. But their aggression could not be sustained forever.

Shortly after bringing up his half-century, Jones nicked one off Sreesanth to allow Karthik to take a spectacular catch. England were to lose their last 5 wickets for just 21 runs, and each one of them holed out to either long on or long off. This allowed Sreesanth to claim 6 wickets in the innings, his career best figures.

This was England’s best performance with the bat in the series, but on a good pitch it was still not as many as they would have liked. That said, India’s batting line-up didn’t look to be at its strongest, and the match was very much alive.

Dravid and debutant Uthappa opened the innings for India, and they quickly took control. Uthappa showed no debut nerves when flicking two fours off the first over of the innings, and England’s bowlers got what they deserved for bowling on Dravid’s pads.

Both brought up half-centuries in good-time, and a 10-wicket win looked a distinct possibility. Uthappa notched up 12 fours and a big six off James Anderson, but was foolishly run out, not realising the ball was coming to his end, when in sight of a century.

Dravid was to go in the next over, lbw to Mahmood. After the 165-run opening stand India had lost two wickets for a single run, but Raina and Yuvraj are more than capable finishers.

England knew that this was their oppurtunity to get back in the game, but the two left-handers didn’t let them take it. Both remained cool under pressure, with singles there for the taking, and the occasional boundary for good measure.

They added a composed 115, and while the run rate rose towards the end, they kept it comfortably under control, taking the boundary when it was needed. Raina didn’t quite manage to see India home, he lost his leg stump attempting a huge hit over mid-wicket. It was nowhere near enough for England though, and Yuvraj’s hammered boundary from the first ball of the last over sealed victory for India.

Sreesanth’s bowling efforts brought him Man of the Match, while Yuvraj earned the Man of the Series award. England will be disappointed to finish the tour like this, but a 5-1 defeat isn’t as bad as it could be, especially considering their injury crisis. Things are looking good for the Indian one-day side, and they will be a strong force at the World Cup.

England 288 all out
Kevin Pietersen 64, Paul Collingwood 64, Geraint Jones 53
Sreesanth 6-55, Irfan Pathan 2-44

India 289-3
Robin Uthappa 86, Rahul Dravid 69, Yuvraj Singh 63*
Kabir Ali 1-47, Sajid Mahmood 1-61

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