Phew!! What a game it was? A tie, only 4th in the world cup and it was an exciting game. Dhoni won the toss and as expected decided to bat first on a flat track. India got off to a flier with Sachin and Sehwag. The Indian top order looked in great touch again as India scored runs at a fair clip without losing wickets. Sachin Tendulkar scored yet another hundred, his 47th in ODI’s to guide India to a mammoth 338.
Sachin received ample support from Sehwag and Ghambir. It was a brilliant innings by the master. He paced his innings to perfection and made sure that the scoring rate never dropped. Initially he took a back seat while allowing Sehwag to take the charge. When Sehwag was dismissed Sachin upped his scoring rate to make sure the run rate was never compromised. Yuvi and Dhoni took India past 300 but once they were dismissed, India lost wickets at a heap to be bowled out for 338.
England began their chase in the right earnest as they kept their rate above 7 an over till a brilliant catch from Munaf ended Pieterson’s innings. Strauss though continued to dominate the Indian bowling; the introduction of spin had no impact on the English captain. Chawla dismissed Trott for 16 leaving England on 111/2. Ian Bell joined Strauss and kept the run rate going with sensible batting. They picked their gaps effectively as Dhoni was running out of options. The biggest turning point of the match came when Yuvi struck Bell right in front and the appeal was turned down. Dhoni after insistence from the bowler decided to refer the decision.
The replays showed that the ball was hitting in line and was crashing on to middle stump. Everyone including Bell knew that it was out but since the batsman was more than 2.5 meters forward from the stumps, the umpire in the middle (Billy Bowden) reinstated his decision. This shocked everyone including the English players in the middle. The rule did not make sense as the ball was hitting the stumps half way up and probably cost the game for India in the long run. Bell though continued his batting along with Strauss and almost batted India out of the game until Dhoni brought back Zaheer for one final time.
Zaheer though bowled brilliantly answering his captain’s call by nipping out 3 wickets in quick time, leaving England reeling. The 3 wickets included Andrew Strauss who played one of the best innings in a world cup scoring 158, his highest. Strauss never allowed the Indian bowlers to dictate to him and was very cool and collected in accumulating the runs. Bajji too joined the party as a wild slog from Prior found Raina at mid on. The Indian team now looked poised to win the game. With England needing 29 from two overs and Bresnan and Swann in the middle, Dhoni tossed the ball to Chawla. The English lower order weren’t going to give up easily as they crashed the Indian leggie for 15 runs in the over leaving 14 more to get in the last. Chawla though dismissed Bresnan with the final ball of his over.
Shahzad joined Swan in the middle and hammered a 6 of the 3rd ball of the Munaf over to help England tie the game. It was a great game of cricket but I would say that in the end Strauss would have been disappointed and Dhoni relieved. The Indian captain though did not hide his frustration at the end of the game as he said that the bowling needs to improve. He also added that the batting cannot score 350 in all the games. It was a brilliant game with two great hundreds and I felt that neither of them deserved to be on the losing side. So a tie was probably a fair result. The Indian think tank needs to figure out the ideal bowling combination for their next game against the Dutch which can be a potential banana skin game for the hosts.