Flintoff's 99 sets up a thumping victory
England 307 for 5 (Flintoff 99, Collingwood 79*) beat India 237 (Laxman 33, Kaif 51, Gough 4-50, Giles 3-26) by 70 runs, and lead series 2-0
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
England broke their 11-match run of defeats after batting first in one-dayers with an emphatic 70-run victory over India to clinch the three-match NatWest Challenge in the second game at The Oval. The platform for their win was set up by Andrew Flintoff, the Man of the Match for his stroke-filled 99, and Paul Collingwood who hit 79 not out. They shared in a record fifth-wicket stand of 174, which rescued England from a mid-innings slump. After a cautious start, the batsmen broke free to set an imposing total of 307: India's innings fired in fits and starts, but never really got going, and despite some lower-order resistance they were eventually bowled out for 237.
Flintoff came in with England wobbling after a bright start, and played himself in quietly before stamping his authority with two sixes off Virender Sehwag. Flintoff brought up his half-century with a swept four, and Collingwood wasn't far behind: he took their vital stand past 100 by clipping Sehwag powerfully over midwicket for four, and reached his own half-century with a drive through the covers off Lakshmipathy Balaji's slower one.
Flintoff stepped up a gear in the last ten overs, straight-driving Yuvraj Singh and then smashing Balaji for an astonishing low six that was never more than three metres above the ground. He should then have been out, but Balaji put down a swirler at deep square.
Balaji's nightmare continued next over, as Flintoff carted him for another six and two more fours to move to 96. Balaji was mercifully removed from the attack - after conceding 77 in eight overs - but then Flintoff's fine innings came to an abrupt end, just one short of what would have been his third one-day hundred of the summer (279 for 5), as Rahul Dravid made no mistake in holding a catch from a top-edged swipe off Ajit Agarkar, who proved even more expensive (6-0-60-1). Flintoff and Collingwood's stand comfortably beat England's previous best for the fifth wicket in ODIs - the 142 of Robin Smith and Graham Thorpe against Australia at Edgbaston in 1993.
Earlier, England made a strong start before the offspinning combination of Sehwag and Harbhajan Singh pegged them back. Marcus Trescothick and Vikram Solanki had been motoring along at almost seven an over before Sourav Ganguly switched to spin, triggering a mini-collapse in which four wickets tumbled for 34.
Trescothick got going with some meaty drives through the off side, and Solanki, who reached 1000 runs in one-day cricket this season early on, played a series of excellent shots all round the wicket. Agarkar came into the attack in only the sixth over, but the boundaries continued to flow, and the fifty partnership came up from only 49 balls.
Harbhajan, who missed out on the last match at Trent Bridge, was brought on after just ten overs. He made an immediate impact today, tempting Trescothick into a leg-side heave that was snapped up by Balaji (71 for 1). Harbhajan then struck again to have Michael Vaughan well caught down the leg side by Rahul Dravid (93 for 2). Sehwag came on at the other end, and England's batsmen started to self-destruct, with Andrew Strauss top-edging a gentle catch to Ganguly to depart for just 2 (98 for 3).
Solanki brought the hundred up in the 19th over, but was out shortly afterwards, just two short of what would have been a superb half-century. Mirroring Vaughan's dismissal, Solanki was caught down the leg side, and a fourth wicket had fallen to spin (105 for 4). India seemed to have the game by the scruff of the neck - but Flintoff and Collingwood clawed their way back to set up what was, eventually, a matchwinning total.
India were in trouble from the very first over, as they lost Sehwag to the third ball of the innings, lbw to Darren Gough (2 for 1). Ganguly briefly threatened with some characteristically brutal slashes past point, but he was then run out by Flintoff after a mid-pitch collision with VVS Laxman (10 for 2).
Both Laxman and Mohammad Kaif went on the counter-attack, putting on 89, but the match tilted firmly back England's way after a double strike by Ashley Giles, who was the pick of the bowlers with 3 for 26. Giles kept the pace off the ball, and wasn't afraid to keep it pitched up either. He soon reaped the rewards, as Laxman was completely undone by a flighted delivery and popped a simple catch to Collingwood at extra cover (99 for 3). Things then got worse for India, as Dravid came and went very quickly for just a single, edging Alex Wharf to Geraint Jones (102 for 4).
Kaif brought up a good half-century with a whipped two off Alex Wharf, and many Indian fans would have started harbouring hopes of a fightback to equal the one between Yuvraj and Kaif in the NatWest Series final at Lord's in 2002, but it was not to be. Kaif fell to Giles in tame fashion, top-edging a sweep to Vaughan at short fine leg (113 for 5)
Rohan Gavaskar then played over the top of a full delivery from Giles and was bowled for 13, and at 143 for 6 things were looking very dire for India. Agarkar went down fighting, crashing sixes off Giles and Vaughan, but he couldn't stop India's slide. Yuvraj chipped Gough straight to Vaughan at midwicket (169 for 7), and two balls later Pathan was out too, top-edging a pull after being cramped for room by a Gough bouncer (169 for 8).
Gough wasn't done there, and had Agarkar caught by Trescothick at long-off to take his tally of ODI wickets to 199 (173 for 9). The 200th evaded him, though, as Balaji and Harbhajan compiled a record tenth-wicket partnership of 64 for India before Flintoff wrapped up the innings, and a fine day in the field for himself, by bowling Balaji for 18.