India brush England asidePaul Wood |
India needed to beat England to have any chance of qualifying for the last four stage. They duly completed the victory thanks in the main to a blistering batting performance.
Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir set India on their way with an opening partnership worth 136, before Yuvraj Singh delievered the fireworks later on with an exceptionally quickfire 58 coming off only 16 balls. He punished the unfortunate Stuart Broad for six sixes in a single over, replicating Herschelle Gibbs effort in the last World Cup.
England’s reply was steady, and after 18 overs were on exactly the same score as India were at that point in their innings. However, England were unable to find a batsman that could be quite as destructive as Yuvraj was in that now, famous over.
The pitch was predicted by many to have enough life in it, especially under lights, to cause more than the odd problem to the batting side, and that totals of around 150, may test the chasing team.
For England this game was all about pride, having watched South Africa, before their game took place, take care of business against New Zealand. England were confirmed to be travelling home after their game with India, regardless of the result. So the inclusion of the injured Andrew Flintoff in a game with nothing to play for, left many scratching their heads.
England won the toss and elected to field, hoping to pressurise the Indians on a lively track.
The Indian openers were respectful of how well England had bowled early on, and Paul Collingwood continued in the same vein as previous games by rotating his bowlers almost every over. The plan India had was to play out the opening six overs and keep wickets in hand, so as a result there were few expansive shots in the opening stages.
Once India had gone over the six over threshold, they broke loose. Sehwag scored his first boundary pulling Dmitri Mascarenhas for four, before launching him over extra cover for six.
Sehwag, out of favour in the ODI’s, then begun to make room for himself and slash aggresively through the offside. It seemed to help that the two Indian batsmen both play for Delhi, and their running between the wickets was that of a pair well in tune with each others game.
When Sehwag crunched Collingwood through covers, he brought his fifty up off 38 balls. Gambhir, minutes later went two balls better, his half century was off 36 deliveries.
Sehwag had reached 68, when he walked too far across his off stump, in an attempt to flick the ball over short fine leg, instead Chris Tremlett’s delivery thumped into his leg stump.
After Gambhir successfully swept Darren Maddy for four, he tried to repeat the dose, but merely scooped the ball to Broad.
Robin Uthappa was also bowled by Tremlett, and it became a question of how well India could finish. Explosively was the answer. Yuvraj Singh, after an on field confrontation with Andrew Flintoff, teed off in the most fantastic fashion. Stuart Broad tried bowling everywhere, and Yuvraj was consistently more than equal to it. His fifty took an incredible 12 balls.
So England were set an unlikely 219 for victory, and opened up with some purpose, reaching 45-0 off the first five overs.
The main problem from there on, was England’s inability to form a match winning partnership. Each of England’s top five offered hope and showed glimpses of what can be achieved in this run chase, but wickets kept falling finshing any promising partnership.
Vikram Solanki, Darren Maddy, Kevin Pietersen, Paul Collingwood, and Owais Shah all lit up the ground with brief cameos, but none of them could go take the next step and drive England home.
RP Singh sealed the victory when in the 18th over of the innings he not only limited England to just four runs, but he picked up the wickets of Collingwood and Shah.
Collingwood’s side finishing 18 runs shy of India’s impressive total. For India it is now all to play for against South Africa on Thursday evening, again in Durban, where a win for India leaves three sides, India, South Africa, and New Zealand, tied on four points. The two sides with the best net run rate will enter the semi-finals.
India 218-4 (20 overs)
Virender Sehwag 68, Gautam Gambhir 58, Yuvraj Singh 58
Chris Tremlett 2-45, Darren Maddy 1-20
England 200-6 (20 overs)
Vik Solanki 43, Kevin Pietersen 39
Irfan Pathan 3-37, RP Singh 2-28
India win by 18 runs
Cricket Web Man of the Match: Yuvraj Singh