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India set up series decider

NatWest Series
Sachin Tendulkar

Sachin Tendulkar forces off the back as his fine 94 sets up India's pursuit © Getty Images

A solid opening partnership from Sourav Ganguly and Sachin Tendulkar and a late flurry of runs from Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Robin Uthappa (47 from 33 balls) helped India to a thrilling two-wicket victory to level the NatWest Series 3-3.

Dhoni was dismissed at the end of the 48th over, with India still needing 23 to win and the match hanging finely in the balance.

But Uthappa - coming in for his first match of the series - combined quick running with some unorthodox ways of reaching the boundary and led his team home with two balls to spare.

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Chasing 317 to win the game and take the series to a deciding match, India started brightly, scoring at a run a ball, with Ganguly and Tendulkar finding the boundary with apparent ease.

Ganguly was particularly fired up after a brush with Stuart Broad, but the bowler had the last laugh when he had the former captain caught by Kevin Pietersen for 53 with the score on 150 for one.

It was Tendulkar who had been the most aggressive in the partnership as he and Gautam Gambhir progressed to 155 for one at the halfway stage, with Tendulkar unbeaten on 94.

But it was to be another near miss for 'the little master' when Paul Collingwood clung on to a magnificent catch at cover off the bowling of Monty Panesar to dismiss him six runs short of a hundred.

Dimitri Mascarenhas got rid of the dangerous Yuvraj Singh for 18, enticing him into a false stroke which he played straight back to the bowler who claimed a simple catch.

Not long afterwards Owais Shah was brought into the attack to bowl his under-used off-spin in a calculated gamble by the captain.

He went on to pick up his first international wicket - that of Rahul Dravid - thanks to a diving catch from Collingwood at short midwicket as India began to stutter on 216 for four.

Owais Shah

Owais Shah hits out on his way to 107 not out, his first ODI century © Getty Images

That soon became 234 for five when Panesar caught Gambhir (47) hitting straight down the ground off the bowling of Mascarenhas.

After the dismissal of Dhoni for 35, Ajit Agarkar came to the crease but was run out coming back for a risky second run and Zaheer Khan was also run out, backing up at the bowler's end before Uthappa hit two boundaries to seal the victory.

Earlier, Shah and debutant Luke Wright had put on a valuable partnership of 106 after the early loss of the top five batsmen.

They both passed fifty, with Wright scoring at more than a run a ball - the milestone coming up in 38 deliveries and containing seven fours and a six.

Wright had been handed his debut, in place of the injured Andrew Flintoff, and came in to bat at seven with England in some trouble on 138 for five.

Wright cut to the boundary to bring up his first runs in international cricket and followed it up with a slog sweep for six to announce his arrival on the one-day stage.

But an excellent piece of fielding by Robin Uthappa, claiming a direct hit at the bowler's end, accounted for the young all-rounder shortly after he reached his half-century.

Shah carried on the momentum, bringing up his hundred in 91 balls, with ten fours and two sixes as he batted himself into form, with an unbeaten 107, ahead of the ICC World Twenty20, which starts next week.

Luke Wright

Luke Wright marks his England debut with a half-century off just 38 balls © Getty Images

Mascarenhas then showed England what they had been missing in the previous three matches by scoring 36 off 15 balls - hitting five sixes in the last over to hammer home their advantage.

Collingwood had earlier won the toss and chose to bat first but the decision looked to have backfired when Alastair Cook was caught by Dhoni to the second ball of the match from Zaheer, which moved off the seam and took his outside edge.

Matt Prior did not last much longer. He drove the third ball he faced for four through the offside, but was then adjudged lbw to Agarkar two deliveries later.

Ian Bell reached 49 in quick time before trying to sweep a Piyush Chawla leg-break which cannoned into his stumps.

Collingwood was next to go, in slightly dubious circumstances after the on-field umpires failed to give him run-out at first look.

The replay was shown on the big screen, and showed the England captain to be short of his crease, at which point Peter Hartley called for the third umpire, who had no choice but to give the batsman out.

England had reached 113 for four at the midway stage, with Pietersen (53) on his highest score in one-day internationals this summer.

He reached his half-century in an uncharacteristic 80-ball innings which contained just four fours.

But he was out two balls later when he tried to get back for a second run and Shah shouted 'no' and refused to move, leaving both batsmen at the same end as Yuvraj whipped off the bails.

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