Tuesday, March 1, 2011

England vs. India

India 338 (Tendulkar 120, Bresnan 5-48) tied with England 338 for 8 (Strauss 158, Bell 69, Zaheer 3-64)

This was one of the greatest matches in the history of the World Cup, perhaps even one of the finest 50 over contests, full stop. As Strauss said last Saturday, these are the kinds of occasions cricketers dream about, although presumably when they think about them in their sleep the ending works out a little differently.

On an evening that simply beggared belief, England tied with India in an incredible finale in Bangalore. Andrew Strauss was England's inspiration, producing an extraordinary 158 from 145 balls, the highest score by an English batsman in World Cup history, as England threatened the unthinkable, and set off in full pursuit of India's seemingly unobtainable total of 338 - a score that had been made possible by a brilliant 120 from Sachin Tendulkar.

The pursuit of 14 from the final over was enhanced when Ajmal Shahzad, a late replacement for Stuart Broad, deposited his first ball over the boundary. Two were needed from the final delivery bowled by Munaf Patel. Swann middled his cover drive but it went straight to a fielder as the batsmen completed a single. So a hoarse, exhausted crowd, partly diminished by the departure of home supporters who thought the game was up, were not sure whether to celebrate or not. In a curious sort of way, both sides may have felt relief.

Once the dust has settled England may take more from this victory than India. They proved that they can compete with the best, even on the subcontinent. Bear in mind that England had lost 11 of their previous 12 matches against India in this country. India have shown so far that batting at home is the easy part, bowling is hurting them. India have shown across the first 2 games that they are giving up too much in the field and the bowlers don't seem to have a plan. England on the other hand have shown a lot of fight to keep the World Cup alive, the average game against Netherlands that still gave them a result, and then to find something extra when every pundit close to a microphone had written them off. Lets not let the gloss of a draw hide the fact that Jimmy Anderson is struggling in India and the proud horse in the stable looks rattled at the moment.

The World Cup has sprung into life with this match, and as the group games move on this is the moment so far of the tournment that all have spoken about.

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