All-round Broad England's hero
England were left to thank a fine all-round performance from Stuart Broad as they claimed a three-wicket victory in a tense finish to the fourth match of the NatWest Series under lights at Old Trafford.
Defeat had seemed a certainty when Ajit Agarkar claimed four wickets to leave England reeling at 114 for seven.
But, having claimed his best one-day international figures of 4-51 as India were bowled out for 212, Broad (45 not out) showed great assurance with the bat alongside Ravi Bopara (43no) in a match-winning unbeaten partnership of 99 for the eighth wicket.
England now lead the series 3-1 and can claim the trophy if they win Sunday’s game at Headingley Carnegie.
Alastair Cook (nought) had faced just four balls when he received a delivery from Zaheer Khan which nipped back at him and removed his middle stump.
And Agarkar got in on the act in his second over, when Matt Prior (four) played an uppercut that went straight down the throat of Ramesh Powar at third man.
Ian Bell (24) claimed a couple of streaky boundaries - one which went through the hands of Sachin Tendulkar at slip - but his luck ran out when he left a fullish delivery from Agarkar and lost his off stump.
That left Pietersen and Paul Collingwood to consolidate and, while neither batsman looked entirely comfortable, runs came freely as India’s familiar failings in the field were again costly.
Rahul Dravid introduced leg-spinner Piyush Chawla, who has twice removed Pietersen in the series, but it was Agarkar who claimed the prized wicket - albeit with the youngster’s help.
Pietersen completely mistimed a pull shot from a rare short ball and looped a simple catch to Chawla.
Collingwood reacted by sending Agarkar’s next two deliveries to the boundary but Andrew Flintoff made just five before finding Yuvraj Singh at point to give Agarkar his fourth wicket.
Powar accounted for Owais Shah with a dipping delivery which struck the Middlesex man’s glove to present a simple catch to Dinesh Karthik at short leg and the tail was exposed when Collingwood (47) was run out by RP Singh.
But youngsters Bopara and Broad were not overawed by the task in front of them and settled into a period of quiet accumulation.
Not a boundary was hit in 10 overs but the pair began to look increasingly comfortable and Broad claimed eight runs off one Zaheer over with two splendid off-side strokes before a sharp Bopara single brought up the 50 partnership.
Agarkar came back for his final over as Dravid sought the final wicket but could not repeat his earlier heroics and finished with figures of 4-60.
And Broad hit the winning run with a drive to mid-on to see England home at 213 for seven.
Earlier, Broad’s 4-51 and James Anderson (3-38) has set up the victory with another dominant display of fast bowling.
For the fourth time in the series, Dravid won the toss but Sourav Ganguly, who always looked uncomfortable on a bouncy pitch, perished for nine pulling Anderson to Ian Bell at square leg.
Tendulkar edged Anderson through the vacant third slip area for four, but Karthik (four) had no such luck when he slashed at a short one from Broad and Prior held the catch.
Collingwood gave Flintoff the ball as early as the 12th over and the Lancashire all-rounder, back in the side at the expense of Chris Tremlett after passing a fitness test on his right knee, produced a consummate over of hostile fast bowling which culminated in Dravid (one) feathering one through to Prior.
Tendulkar and Yuvraj Singh progressed steadily, dealing mostly in singles, and a rare boundary from Yuvraj - cutting Panesar bast backward point - brought up a sedate 50 partnership.
Tendulkar (53) brought up his half-century from 81 deliveries with a single off Collingwood, but the key wicket came from when the little master attempted to pull the part-time spin of Pietersen for six but found the bucket hands of Flintoff, who held a tough chance running round the boundary to leave India 103 for four.
Mahendra Singh Dhoni (13) fell to a Panesar special - one which pitched on middle and turned to clip the wicket-keeper’s off-stump and Agarkar, replacing Munaf Patel in the India line-up to strengthen India’s lengthy tail, went for six in the next over, edged Broad through to Prior.
While the hard-hitting Yuvraj was still in, India still had a chance of posting a big total and he took 16 from one Broad over including a big leg-side six to bring up his 50.
But with the score on 178, the left-hander was bowled round his legs by a full-length Broad delivery for 71 and Powar, with whom he had shared a stand of 31, fell in the same over mistiming a pull shot to Bell.
Chawla (13 not out) and Zaheer Khan (20) took the score over 200 before the latter became Anderson’s second wicket thanks to a steepling Collingwood catch and Bopara dived forwards to remove RP Singh (nought) two balls later.