India bounce back in style
India punctured England’s new-found one-day optimism by inflicting a 38-run defeat on the hosts in the fifth match of the NatWest Series.
Having pulled off a remarkable three-wicket win on Thursday to take them to within sight of a series victory, England were beaten convincingly - albeit under the Duckworth-Lewis method - on a gloomy day in more ways than one at Headingley Carnegie.
England leaked 324 runs in the field after winning the toss, and their pursuit of a revised target of 311 in 45 overs foundered crucially on the loss of three top-order wickets in 13 balls.
They were 242 for eight when rain forced the players off for a third and final time, Paul Collingwood’s valiant unbeaten 91 limiting the scale of defeat rather than affecting the outcome. England now lead the series 3-2 with two games remaining.
Matt Prior and Ian Bell shone briefly, but they succumbed to Sourav Ganguly, who followed up his incendiary half-century with impressive figures of 2-26 on his 300th ODI appearance as England slipped from 97 for one to 104 for four.
As good as Collingwood’s savage assault was - he smote four huge sixes and three fours off just 71 balls - India never looked likely to let a position of dominance slip for the second time in four days.
Their total of 324 for six was built around four half-centuries, the best of which was Sachin Tendulkar’s.
He treated the sizeable contingent of India fans to a dazzling exhibition of strokeplay, the quality and range of which has rarely been seen this summer, and seemed destined to reach three figures for the first time on this tour until he fell for 71.
Ganguly helped lay the foundations during an opening stand worth 116, Gautam Gambhir also passed 50 and Yuvraj Singh - with whom Gambhir shared a century stand for the third wicket - smashed 72 off 57 deliveries to further underline the tourists’ dominance in conditions expected to favour the bowlers.
Tendulkar was the chief aggressor early on, hitting Jon Lewis for four fours in five balls en route to his 82nd ODI half-century.
Lewis - playing in place of Andrew Flintoff, who was ruled out by an ankle injury - was driven past extra cover, wide of mid-on and twice cut through point in his third over.
Ganguly twice hit James Anderson for successive boundaries but Tendulkar bettered anything that had gone before - or was to follow - with a superbly timed cut behind point off Stuart Broad.
He went to a 46-ball fifty courtesy of a dismissive flick over mid-wicket off the same bowler, followed it up with a savage straight drive and provided further evidence of his sensational form with consecutive sweeps - the first a delicate paddle over short fine-leg - at Collingwood’s expense.
India’s momentum was checked somewhat as Lewis returned to have Tendulkar caught behind attempting to run a good-length delivery to third man.
But Lewis was given short shrift by Ganguly, who underlined his intent with a towering six over deep square-leg, until he perished attempting a similar stroke in Monty Panesar’s first over. Alastair Cook took a smart running catch at deep mid-wicket.
Gambhir, dropped on 19 and 40 by Kevin Pietersen and Ravi Bopara, and Yuvraj consolidated somewhat before opening their shoulders, putting on 101 in under 15 overs against an attack that failed to match the standards of Old Trafford.
While Gambhir - preferred to seamer Rudra Pratap Singh in a bid to strengthen the batting - struck only five fours in his well-paced 51, Yuvraj favoured powerful leg-side hitting as they put on 101 in under 15 overs.
Panesar and Lewis were deposited over the rope either side of Gambhir’s dismissal - caught at deep mid-wicket as he failed to control a pull off Broad - and Yuvraj skied Collingwood to Anderson at long-on shortly after.
Dhoni and Rahul Dravid’s departures in quick succession did not prevent India adding 38 in the last three overs.
Cook was caught behind driving in the fourth over of England’s reply, but Bell and Prior capitalised on being dropped early on to add 90 inside 11 overs.
Bell struck Ajit Agarkar for three fours in succession, and Prior unfurled a couple of cover drives as the pressure began to show on the Indians, but Ganguly’s introduction into the attack reaped almost immediate dividends.
He had Prior stumped by Dhoni as he overbalanced and induced a faint edge from Bell, dismissals which sandwiched the wicket of Pietersen, caught behind prodding at a delivery from Zaheer Khan that was slanted across him.
Owais Shah spent 36 balls making 15, and Collingwood’s 48-run stand with Bopara ended when the youngster gifted Ramesh Powar a return catch.
Stuart Broad departed in equally tame fashion off Piyush Chawla, and Collingwood and Lewis swung merrily before the latter became Dhoni’s sixth victim. The rain merely confirmed what most people knew.