Bopara And Broad Pull Off Magnificent Victory
India 212 (Yuvraj Singh 77, Tendulkar 55, Broad 4-51, Anderson 3-38)
213-7 (Collingwood 47, Agarkar 4-54) at Old Trafford
England won by three wickets and lead the seven-match series 3-1
An extraordinary eighth-wicket partnership of 99 between Ravi Bopara and Stuart Broad took England to a superb victory in the fourth one-day international against India at Old Trafford. Four wickets from Ajit Agarkar left England struggling as Bopara and Broad, England's last recognised batsmen, came together at 114 for 7 when captain Paul Collingwood was run out for 47.
Never panicking, Bopara and Broad played sensibly, adding a touch of calm to proceedings, and ultimately lifting England to a 3-1 series lead, which looked unlikely with wickets falling early on in their innings. Bopara finished unbeaten on 43, Broad on 45. Both men rode their luck at times, but fully deserved their moment of glory for they way they applied themselves and played the situation to perfection. Broad was a simple choice for man of the match, having taken four for 51 earlier in the match.
England's problems started early on, when Alastair Cook failed to negotiate a testing opening over from Zaheer Khan, having his stumps rearranged for a duck, then Matt Prior steered Agarkar straight to Ramesh Powar to leave England knocked back immediately as they chased 213 for victory.
Things got worse shortly after when Ian Bell suffered his first failure of the series, and England were reduced to 35 for 3, a very similar position to where India had been, when Bell was bowled by Agarkar for 24, leaving a ball that cut back and hit off stump.
Just as Sachin Tendulkar and Yuvraj Singh had done earlier, Kevin Pietersen and Collingwood began the slow rebuilding process, taking England to 81 for 3 before Agarkar claimed the scalp of Pietersen, caught by Piyush Chawla for 18, having put on 46 with Collingwood. Andrew Flintoff and Owais Shah lasted a combined total of 27 balls as England were reduced to 110 for 6 in the 22nd over.
Collingwood, who had looked assured and ready to stick around, was then run out for 47 to leave England in what looked like desperate trouble at 114 for 7 before Broad and Bopara played like masters to bring the game home with two overs to spare, Broad hitting the winning run through mid-on.
Tendulkar and Yuvraj hit gritty half-centuries as India overcame the loss of three early wickets themselves in the face of more fine bowling, with James Anderson and Broad particularly impressive once again. India were unable to break the shackles at any stage in their innings thanks to wickets coming just when they were needed and from all sources whenever needed by the home side.
The prime example was the wicket of Tendulkar: one ball after he had crashed a four to register his eighty-first one-day international half-century, he spooned a catch to Andrew Flintoff for a well made and elegant 55, the bowler being Kevin Pietersen.
Yuvraj overcome a slow start to reach his half-century, although after Tendulkar was dimissed, England struck twice more in quick succession, removing Mahendra Singh Dhoni (13) and Agarkar (6) before Broad removed Yuvraj, bowled for 71 in the 45th over; subsequently there was the familiar sight of India's tail folding with little resistance, save for cameos of 20 from Zaheer Khan and 13 not out from Piyush Chawla with the innings ended with two balls to spare.
It was Tendulkar who brought up India's fifty with a boundary, and then took on Monty Panesar, striking two more boundaries as the spinner was bravely introduced during the second power play after three wickets went down for 32 runs.
Andrew Flintoff took the prize wicket of Rahul Dravid in his first over of his latest return from injury, caught behind as the Indian captain was unable to resist flashing at a Flintoff delivery outside off stump, only succeeding in connecting with the edge of his bat. He departed having made a single.
Flintoff's Lancashire team-mate Anderson stole the early show, bowling a beautifully controlled spell of fast bowling that culminated in the wicket of Saurav Ganguly, who had threatened to dominate proceedings, caught by Ian Bell for 9.
Broad, Anderson's opening partner, struggled in his first two overs, being hit for twelve before bringing it back and getting Dinesh Karthik (4) to edge behind where Prior made no mistake.
With all three games so far decided in favour of the side batting first, it was no surprise to see India opt to make first use of the pitch and avoid chasing under lights. The lights may offer them their best chance of a victory - with England's batsmen in form and India's bowlers struggling, 213 looked at least 30-40 runs short, and so it proved.
Flintoff replaced Chris Tremlett, whose lusty hitting was not enough to keep him his place after a wayward bowling performance at Edgbaston, while Munaf Patel lost his place with Agarkar coming in to replace him.
Cook, Prior (wk), Bell, Pietersen, Collingwood (c), Shah, Bopara, Flintoff, Broad, Anderson, Panesar
Ganguly, Tendulkar, Karthik, Dravid (c), Yuvraj Singh, Dhoni (wk), Agarkar, Powar, Chawla, Zaheer Khan, RP Singh
© Cricket World 2007