India's seamers come to the party
India 204 (Ganguly 90, Dravid 52, Harmison 4-22) beat England 181 (Vaughan 74, Nehra 3-23, Harbhajan 3-28) by 23 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
The NatWest Challenge came to a thrilling finale at Lord's, with India eventually winning by 23 runs in a match of fluctuating fortunes for both sides. It seemed as if England were on course for another one-sided victory when India were bowled out for a lowly 204, but by the time they had lost six wickets inside the first 20 overs of their reply, all such assumptions had flown out of the window.
Michael Vaughan and Ashley Giles clawed their way back into the game with a 92-run partnership, but both fell at a crucial time and England were bowled out for 181. Earlier, Sourav Ganguly hit five fours and three sixes in his 90, a knock which formed the backbone of India's innings. In the end, it was a match-winning score, and Ganguly was named Man of the Match for his efforts.
Despite a wonky radar at the start of his spell, Steve Harmison was soon into the groove as India got off to an inauspicious start. VVS Laxman, opening in place of the out-of-sorts Virender Sehwag, was bowled by a searing yorker (24 for 1), and just as the innings was getting back on track, Mohammad Kaif was run out for 2 after a mix-up with Ganguly (46 for 2).
Sehwag's lack of form in the bat continued, and he popped a simple return catch to Giles to be out for just a single (48 for 3). With India in trouble, Rahul Dravid and Ganguly decided that steady accumulation, rather than big shots, was the way forward, and were content to knock the ball around for ones and twos to keep the scoreboard ticking over. Ganguly stepped up a gear after reaching his fifty, launching into Vaughan and Paul Collingwood, England's back-up bowlers.
Giles and Harmison tightened up, and built some pressure with a series of low-scoring overs. Ganguly, clearly feeling bogged down, tried to pull a short one from Harmison from outside off stump, but succeeded only in hitting the ball straight to Vaughan at midwicket. He was out 10 short of a hundred, and India were 141 for 4.
Yuvraj Singh's previous two appearances at Lord's earned him scores of 64 not out and 69, but he failed today. He had just 9 when he clipped Alex Wharf well off his legs, but picked out Giles on the square-leg boundary (170 for 5).
Dravid moved to a vital half-century, but Dinesh Karthik, the 19-year-old wicketkeeper, made a nervous debut, scratching around for 11 balls before he gave Jones a regulation catch behind the stumps off Harmison (181 for 6). Once again, India's batting started to crumble in the face of sustained pressure. Harbhajan Singh popped a simple catch to Vaughan at point to give Darren Gough his 200th one-day wicket, and then England got the wicket they really wanted, as Dravid was caught by a diving Collingwood at gully for 52 (184 for 8).
Anil Kumble skied a Gough slower ball (195 for 9), and Irfan Pathan and Ashish Nehra took India's score past 200 before Pathan was bowled in the final over going for a huge swipe.
Expectations of another resounding win for England were high when Marcus Trescothick and Vikram Solanki came out to bat, but India refused to lie down and die. Both England openers fell for single figures, as Trescothick gave Laxman a regulation catch at second slip off Nehra (5 for 1), and Solanki top-edged a pull to Singh at fine leg (22 for 2).
Andrew Strauss and Anthony McGrath soon followed them back to the pavilion, both trapped lbw by Pathan, and England were in disarray at 29 for 4. The support from the Indian contingent of the crowd grew louder with every wicket, and in tense conditions, Vaughan and Collingwood saw off the marauding opening bowlers. However, they were then faced with the equally daunting prospect of dealing with the dangerous pair of Kumble and Harbhajan.
Kumble's first over passed without drama, but then Collingwood was run out after a stunning piece of fielding from Kaif at short leg. Advancing down the track to Harbhajan, Collingwood clipped the ball onto the leg side, where Kaif made an excellent reaction stop and return straight back to Karthik. Collingwood was still well out of his crease, and was easily run out for 4 (48 for 5). After crashing Kumble for a six and a four, Geraint Jones chipped Harbhajan to midwicket, where Sehwag took a superb diving catch (62 for 6).
The match had tilted firmly back in India's favour, but Vaughan and Giles's partnership kept England afloat, and they went into the last 10 overs needing just over a run a ball to win.
Vaughan took advantage of a life given to him to Karthik, who dropped an edge off Kumble, and although at first runs weren't easy to come by, slowly the pressure exerted by the Indian bowlers started to ease. The runs started to accumulate, and Vaughan brought up his eighth one-day fifty off exactly 100 balls. At the other end, Giles was playing an equally vital knock. He moved past his previous best, 21 not out against New Zealand at Dunedin two years ago, and the jubilant mood of the Indian team started to dip.
As the partnership progressed, Vaughan and Giles became more positive, placing their shots well and running feverishly between the wickets. But in his last over, Harbhajan made the vital breakthrough for India, catching Giles off his own bowling. After all the excellent deliveries he bowled today, it was a very ordinary full toss that broke a 92-run partnership that had threatened to take the game out of India's grasp, and Giles was out for 39 (154 for 7).
And then came the final nail in England's coffin, as Karthik made up for his failure with the bat, and the dropped catch, with a brilliant one-handed stumping to get rid of Vaughan for 74 (155 for 8). Wharf smashed Sehwag over long-on for six, and England's hopes flickered, but in the next over he skied Yuvraj and Karthik took a simple catch (166 for 9). Nehra then wrapped up a thrilling win by bowling Gough for 10, and although India had already lost the NatWest Challenge, this win will be an important boost to their morale before the Champions Trophy.