India scrape a tie against England at Bangalore!

BANGALORE: India and England shared the honours as their World Cup Group B encounter ended in a dramatic last-ball tie at the packed M. Chinnaswamy Stadium here Sunday.

England skipper Andrew Strauss’ career-best 158 nearly took England to a win. However, a late burst from Zaheer Khan (3/64) pulled back things for India, but poor fielding and dropped catches allowed the visitors to reach 338 for eight in 50 overs.

England, chasing the big total, were cruising along with Strauss and Ian Bell (69) taking the score to 280/2. The two put on 170 runs but left in quick succession as Zaheer dismissed them in successive deleveries in the 43rd over and India bounced back in the match.

Twenty20 champions England needed 29 runs off the last 12 balls. Graeme Swann (15 not out) and Tim Bresnan (14), who picked up five for 48, spanked leg-spinner Piyush Chawla for two sixes as 15 runs came from the penultimate over. Chawla, however, struck with his last ball to castle Bresnan.

In the last over, England needed 14 runs and Ahmed Shehzad (6 not out) heaved Munaf Patel for a huge six straight down the ground to bring down the equation to five runs to win from three deliveries. Graeme Swann held his nerve to tie the match for England.

Opting to bat, India’s total was built around batting maestro Sachin Tendulkar’s 120, his 47th ODI century.

Tendulkar was superbly assisted by Gautam Gambhir (51) and Yuvraj Singh (58) as India, for the second consecutive time, posted a 300-plus score in the 2011 World Cup.

England were off to a good start with openers Kevin Pietersen (31) and Strauss adding 68 runs for the first wicket. Munaf took an excellent catch off his own bowling to remove Pietersen, who is the most successful English batsman on Indian soil.

Strauss and Bell kept England ahead in the chase. Strauss hit 18 fours and one six in his 145-ball knock while Bell smashed four fours and a six during his 71-ball stay.

With seven wickets in hand, England needed 67 runs in the last 10 overs to win the match.

Strauss took for the batting Powerplay in the 43rd over and it suddenly changed the equation. Zaheer raised hopes of an Indian win by removing Bell and Strauss. Struggling with cramps, Bell gifted his wicket in his attempt to clear the field, but Kohli, who had dropped him in the previous over, made amends by taking an easy catch at mid-off. In the next delivery. Zaheer sent down a searing yorker that swung back late to hit Strauss on the backfoot.

England failed to take advantage of the Powerplay as they managed just 30 runs, losing five wickets.

Earlier, pacer Bresnan was outstanding and picked up the wickets of Yusuf Pathan (14), Kohli (8) and Harbhajan Singh in four balls in the penultimate over to put a brake on India’s run spree.

Bresnan struck early to get rid of the dangerous Virender Sehwag, who raced to 35 off 26 balls, after wicketkeeper Matt Prior took a good one-handed catch.

Tendulkar and Gambhir then joined the party with their 134-run stand for the second wicket and smashed the England bowlers all over the park.

Tendulkar was aggressive in his approach and set the tone of his innings with two crisply-timed fours off pace spearhead James Anderson in the ninth over. His first of five sixes came against Paul Collingwood, straight over the bowler’s head and he smashed him again over the mid-wicket boundary to bring up his half-century in style.

Tendulkar also came down heavily on spinner Swann and hit him for two consecutive sixes in the 27th over and got to his century by whipping Bresnan for a four down the fine-leg. Tendulkar’s 115-ball knock that was studded with 10 fours and five sixes came to an end after his leading edge off Anderson was taken by Michael Yardy in the covers.

Yuvraj and captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni (31 off 25 balls) then came up with a 69-run stand, taking India past the 300-run mark. Yuvraj struck nine fours in his 50-ball innings while Dhoni struck three fours and a six.(IANS)

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