India take 1-0 lead despite Trescothick century
In a one-day international that was a classic of its kind, India won a thrilling match by 22 runs despite a marvellous innings of 121 from Marcus Trescothick. India had looked out of it when England were 224 for 4, but a dreadful umpiring decision that sparked a woeful collapse enabled India to take first blood in the six-match series.
India got off to exactly the start they wanted. Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly set off at a rattling good pace, taking advantage of some English bowling that was slightly below par. There were enough wayward deliveries to allow run-scoring without risk-taking. The 50 came up in the tenth over and a total in excess of 300 could be envisaged at this stage.
Paul Collingwood came on to bowl the 14th over of the innings only to be hit for a straight six by Ganguly, and was withdrawn from the attack after conceding ten from the over. Before the change could be effected, however, Andrew Flintoff had broken the partnership.
The wicket, greeted with an eerie silence from the vast and otherwise noisy crowd, was something of a collector's item. It will certainly feature prominently in Flintoff's collection, for he hit Tendulkar's stumps with a ball of fullish length that the batsman tried to work to mid-wicket.
Three overs later, Ganguly fell to the same bowler. He also tried to fetch a ball from outside off stump towards mid-wicket with plenty of predetermination about the shot. He only succeeded in sending it high into the air for Nasser Hussain to take a testing catch with comfort.
Dinesh Mongia was joined by VVS Laxman who became the third batsman to get out with mid-wicket in mind when well set. He chipped Darren Gough there when Gough had been brought back into the attack with the single aim of taking another wicket.
Mongia, playing a sensible innings with a maturity that belied his inexperience at this level, reached his 50 off as many balls with only four fours and a six. He lost another partner when Virender Sehwag shaped a horrible slog to be bowled by Matthew Hoggard's slower ball, and India appeared to have wasted a very good start.
Mongia took a liking to Jeremy Snape's off-breaks when he returned to the attack with two straight fours, despite the fact that long-on and long-off were set back, but then Snape snared his man. Mongia was bowled for an excellent 71 from 75 balls.
Two more wickets then fell in quick succession. Ajit Agarkar was beautifully stumped by James Foster off a leg-side wide from an off-colour Ashley Giles, and Ajay Ratra was run out. Hemang Badani found a willing partner in Harbhajan Singh to stop the rot, and this pair manipulated the total to the level that India would have had in mind at the outset.
England had been docked one over for a tardy bowling rate, and could be satisfied that it was not more than one. They were not satisfied with the start they made as they went after the impressive total.
Trescothick got a single off Javagal Srinath's first ball, but the bowler wrung an lbw decision out of the umpire as Nick Knight faced his first ball. Did it pitch outside the leg-stump? Not according to the umpire.
Nasser Hussain came in with only one thing on his mind, and that was to get the scoreboard moving. Using the open face that he favours, he managed to locate the rope frequently enough, while Trescothick was totally uninhibited with his strokeplay.
Both batsmen were dropped by Laxman at second slip. Trescothick was on only two when the fielder spurned a chance off Agarkar, and Hussain on 19 when Laxman again erred, this time off Srinath. That one did not prove as expensive, for Hussain was lbw to Anil Kumble's second ball when he had scored 29. Despite the length of stride he got in, the umpire needed no time to think about his decision.
Trescothick made the most of the fielding restrictions in the remainder of the first 15 overs, hitting sixes off Harbhajan Singh and Kumble and three fours off Harbhajan in the 15th over.
Michael Vaughan was just beginning to look more comfortable having contributed 14 to a partnership of 59 off eight overs with Trescothick when he tried to lift Kumble over mid-off but failed to do so. Collingwood played his part before he too took an unnecessary liberty with Ganguly to offer a simple catch to mid-wicket.
Trescothick meanwhile had brought up a memorable century from just 80 balls with 13 fours and two sixes. It was a gargantuan effort from a man who had left the field five times during the Indian innings feeling unwell. With Flintoff overcoming a nervous start to keep Trescothick company, they brought the required rate down to no more than five an over.
Ganguly needed wickets; England needed to go steadily along. They might have done had Trescothick's innings not come to an end in the unhappiest of circumstances. Srinath was brought into the attack, bowled a ball that pitched some six inches outside the left-hander's leg stump. The bowler appealed and the umpire gave a shocking decision in his favour.
It was the turning point in the match. There was an awful mix-up between Flintoff and Snape that resulted in Flintoff being run out at a crucial stage. Snape became the fourth lbw victim sweeping at Harbhajan Singh, and England's challenge became forlorn.
Foster chased a wide one from Agarkar to give Ratra his first victim in international cricket, Gough lasted no time at all and although Giles did his best to eke out the required runs at the end, he was out for 18 and India had won a great game of cricket.