Toss crucial, but India have an advantage
The final ODI between India and England at Lord's will be a series decider - back-to-back wins for India at Headingley and The Oval levelling the series at 3-3. The last time the two teams met at Lord's, India triumphed by 23 runs. Five players from that match are likely to play, with Paul Collingwood being the only one from England.
India possess a good record at Lord's, the only blip in five matches being the inaugural match of the 1975 World Cup, when Sunil Gavaskar crawled to 36 off 172 balls, as India replied with 132 for 3 in reply to England's 334 for 4 from 60 overs. That 202-run win is the biggest margin of victory (by number of runs) at Lord's.
|India v England||4||3||1||-||-|
Lord's was also the ground where India had their greatest win - the World Cup final in 1983 - and also perhaps their last major series win in ODIs, beating England in the final of the 2002 NatWest Series by two wickets; a thrilling run-chase similar to the match at The Oval. In fact, England haven't won a series at home since they beat India in the NatWest Challenge in 2004.
The team batting first has won four matches out of six in the ongoing series, while both captains seem to have erred with the toss; the only win for the side winning the toss came in the match in Bristol. In five matches at Lord's since 2005, the captain winning the toss has opted to field first, although with no great success, having won two, lost two and tied one match. Following is the overall toss records at Lord's.
|Toss result||Matches||Won||Lost||Tied||No result|
|Won and batted first||11||3||8||-||-|
|Won and fielded first||32||16||14||1||1|
|Lost the toss||43||22||19||1||1|
Most players in England's current bating line-up have not performed well at Lord's, with Andrew Flintoff - who may miss out due to fitness worries - leading the pack. Flintoff also leads the wicket-takers for Lord's in the England squad, but the new-ball bowlers - James Anderson and Stuart Broad - have done well so far.
For India, Zaheer Khan has picked up four wickets from two matches at 27.50 apiece while Yuvraj Singh has four as well at 20.25 per wicket from three games. However, one cannot be sure if Yuvraj will be trusted for the end overs by Rahul Dravid, after being hammered for 30 runs in an over by Dimitri Mascarenhas, a record for an Indian bowler. Mascarenhas may ponder if his big-hitting is detrimental to England's cause, as in the two matches that he hit five sixes - Bristol and The Oval - ended up with England on the losing side.
Sourav Ganguly, Rahul Dravid and Yuvraj have performed well with the bat at Lord's, averaging over 60. However, Sachin Tendulkar - India's highest run-getter in the series - has only managed 15 runs from two matches at the "home of cricket." This perhaps will be the last chance for both Dravid and Tendulkar to score a hundred for India at Lord's, and going by the near-misses Tendulkar has had so far on the tour, it will be poignant for the leading run-scorer in ODIs to get to a hundred in his last innings at Lord's.
Mathew Varghese is an editorial assistant at Cricinfo.com