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Thursday, November 20, 2008

India v England ODI series - 3rd One Day Kanpur

India took a 3-0 lead in the one-day series with a 16-run Duckworth-Lewis win over a much-improved England side.

Chasing 241 in 49 overs, Virender Sehwag (68) and Yuvraj Singh (38) gave India a platform before bad light curtailed play on 198-5 from 40 overs.

Andrew Flintoff (3-31) was the pick of England's bowling attack in Kanpur.

Openers Ravi Bopara (60) and Ian Bell (46) gave England a fine start, putting on 79 in 14.3 overs before Harbhajan Singh (3-31) triggered a collapse.

The result means England will need to win the remaining four matches to retain any hopes of an unlikely series victory.

Each team had just one over cut from the usual 50-over allotment despite early morning fog forcing the start of the match to be delayed by 45 minutes. Though India were on top in the closing stages, the finale was spoilt for the sell-out crowd with India 43 runs away from their target.

But umpires Amiesh Saheba and Russell Tiffin had no option but to offer the light to Mahendra Dhoni and Yusuf Pathan, who gratefully accepted in the knowledge that by doing so, India could take the win.

The decision infuriated England captain Kevin Pietersen, who remonstrated with both officials as the towering Green Park floodlights remained idle.

As expected, England named Graeme Swann in their starting XI, sacrificing Steve Harmison for the second spin option.

Seamer Ishant Sharma, who took 15 wickets and earned the man of the series award in the 2-0 Test series win over Australia, returned for India, with RP Singh making way.

Pietersen won the toss and elected to bat on a standard sub-continent pitch, a slow surface likely to take turn as the match progressed.

Desperately in need of invention at the top of the order, England promoted the mercurial Bopara to open the innings at the expense of wicketkeeper Matt Prior, who dropped down to eight in a rejigged batting card with Pietersen at three and Owais Shah at six.

After a slow start, England's innings exploded into life in the eighth over, when Bell pulled two successive short deliveries from Munaf Patel for four. Bopara collected two more in the following over from Zaheer Khan.

They brought up England's 50 in the 11th over with Bopara growing in confidence, striking a wonderful back-foot drive past point for four while Bell cracked a short Ishant Sharma delivery in the same region to move to 44 from as many deliveries.

But maddeningly he perished soon after, attempting to guide Patel down to third man, only to edge into Dhoni's gloves four runs short of a deserved half century.

New batsman Pietersen launched into Yuvraj's second over, swiping the left-arm spinner over long-on for six. But he then holed out at mid-off and the brakes were suddenly firmly applied.

Paul Collingwood was stumped defending a delivery from Harbhajan which turned the other way, and though Bopara brought up his half-century with a spanking cover drive off Yuvraj for four, the left-arm spinner also had him stumped to leave the total on 113-4.

With a phalanx of spinners at his disposal, Dhoni cleverly rotated his slower bowlers to shackle Flintoff. His pedestrian innings of 26 was brought to an end when he was trapped lbw by Yusuf Pathan, missing a straight ball which would have cannoned into his middle stump.

England managed only 21 runs from their four-over batting powerplay and Shah perished on 40 when he chipped Harbhajan into the hands of Zaheer at long off for his 200th one-day international wicket.

An over of madness from Sharma saw him concede two no-balls, five wides and two wickets with the last two deliveries of a 10-ball over.

And Patel finished the innings off when he had James Anderson bowled for one, setting India what looked a modest target of 241.

However the inspirational Flintoff made an early breakthrough when Gautam Gambhir was caught at third man for 14. New man Suresh Raina received a hostile bombardment from Flintoff and Staurt Broad and the series of short-pitched deliveries had their desired effect as the left-hander played on to his stumps for one.

But alongside Rohit Sharma, Sehwag, subdued by his usual explosive standards, took Broad to task with two successive fours down the ground.

With England's early advantage slipping, Sharma pounced on two loose Anderson deliveries for successive fours, handing Pietersen no other option but turn to his Nottinghamshire spin duo after 15 overs.

Samit Patel almost had Sehwag caught off his own bowling in his very first over, but failed to grasp a sharp, low one-handed chance. And Sehwag compounded the drop with a brutal six for his half-century over long on off Swann, bringing up the 50 partnership in the process.

Swann got England back in the game when he had Sharma caught behind by Prior at the second attempt for 28.

His dismissal brought in Yuvraj Singh, greeted with a reception normally reserved for Sachin Tendulkar. The left-hander swept Swann for four with ease, once again forcing Pietersen to turn to Flintoff for the breakthrough.

And the Lancastrian duly obliged when he removed Sehwag for 68 - courtesy of a brilliant one-handed catch at point from Collingwood, bringing Dhoni to the crease in the 26th over.

With the pitch increasingly receptive to turn, along with uneven bounce, scoring became more treacherous as Swann and Broad maintained tight lines, taking the required run rate briedly above a run a ball.

With Dhoni playing the unaccustomed blocker's role - it took him 37 balls to reach 10 - Yuvraj relieved some of the pressure with a pulled four over midwicket in the 34th over.

The duo took the batting powerplay in the 35th over - and the second ball of Swann's final over was dispatched straight over his head for six, an over which yielded 14 runs and switched the momentum decisively back India's way.

Flintoff had some late satisafaction by removing Yuvraj, but by now India were on top of the run-rate as the match drifted towards an anti-climactic ending.

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