Munaf hurries India to victory
India 338 (Dravid 95, Flintoff 4-96) and 144 for 1 (Sehwag 76*) beat England 300 (Flintoff 70, Kumble 5-76) and 181 (Patel 4-25, Kumble 4-70) by 9 wickets
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
How they were out
A festive Monday afternoon crowd, probably the largest of the match, beat their drums and waved the tricolour as Virender Sehwag got stuck into the England bowlers and India romped to a nine-wicket win in the second Test, taking a 1-0 lead in the three-match series. When as many as 115 overs - some of which were subsequently made up - were lost in the first two days, it seemed scarcely possible that either team would be able to force a result in this Test. Yet India's relentless forward press, through a captain who made 95 and 42 not out, tail-enders rallying around to score invaluable runs, an ace spinner tirelessly asking questions and a young bowler running in and bowling quick, paid off in the end.
When the final day began, with England on 112 for 5 and Andrew Flintoff still at the crease, there was still plenty of work to be done. After South Africa's heroics of the night before, where 434 was successfully chased down at the Wanderers bull-ring in Johannesburg, suddenly there was hope that even the most impossible situation could be turned round. What if Freddie played a blinder? Would Geraint Jones support him? Could England pull something really special out of the hat? In the end it was India who had all the answers.
It was Munaf Patel's extra pace and late swing that ensured that India were in the hunt before Anil Kumble, the man expected to be the biggest threat, could even set to work. While Flintoff stood firm at his end, the wickets tumbled at the other.
Geraint Jones lasted just four minutes, standing on tip-toe to play the fifth ball of the day and only managed to drag the ball back down onto his stumps. The extra bounce that Patel extracted off this fifth-day pitch did Jones in.
Liam Plunkett, who might've considered himself a touch unlucky to have been given out caught down the leg side in the first innings, can harbour no such thoughts over his second-innings send off. He played half forward to an inswinger but just failed to get outside the line of the stumps as the ball struck pad. At 124 for 7, with the sun beating down, England had their backs to the wall.
Matthew Hoggard, who has often held up the opposition's quest to clean up the tail, was late on a sharply inswinging yorker and the ball struck the boot before crashing into the stumps. At 139 for 8, England were in deep trouble. When Patel relinquished the ball he had taken 3 for 15 from 8 overs.
Steve Harmison ensured that India had to sweat for success, gustily sticking it out for 49 balls, adding 42 for the 9th wicket with Flintoff. Kumble, not quite at his best, and Harbhajan Singh, far from his, could not dislodge Harmison. In the end Harmison got himself out, overbalancing while attempting to sweep, and Mahendra Dhoni did well to gather down the leg side and whip off the bails. Harmison had made only 13, but he had given Flintoff the time at the crease he needed to push his score on to 51.
With Monty Panesar at the crease Flintoff had to chance his arm, and unfortunately for him, his first attempt went straight to hand. He tried to heave a Chawla legbreak over deep backward square-leg, but only found Patel, and England were all out for 181.
Then came the run-chase. Whispers of Bridgetown, Barbados in 1997 where India spectacularly failed to chase 120 were on the lips of the England faithful, but that Indian team is a different one from this in more ways than one cares to list. There was only the most brief blip, as Wasim Jaffer, who had played a couple of pleasing shots on the way to 17, was trapped in front by the persevering Hoggard, and India were 39 for 1.
From then on there was no stopping the Indian victory charge. An unbeaten 105-run second wicket stand between Dravid, who was no less determined or authoritative in his second innings 42 than in his first-innings 95, and a racy 76 from Sehwag, ensured that India sealed the match. Sehwag played some strokes - a cover-drive off Panesar, and one off Plunkett in particular - that conjured visions of his best form. A pinched single off Panesar, with Sehwag running down the pitch to meet the ball and place it wide of mid off, settled the issue conclusively.
How they were out
How they were out
Wasim Jaffer lbw b Hoggard 17 (39 for 1)
Caught plumb in front on the move
Geraint Jones b Patel 5 (116 for 6)
Stood tall to defend but only edged back onto his stumps
Liam Plunkett lbw b Patel 1 (124 for 7)
Did not get outside the line to a full inswinger
Matthew Hoggard b Patel 4 (139 for 8)
Beaten for pace by an inswinging yorker
Steve Harmison st Dhoni b Kumble 13 (181 for 9)
Overbalanced trying to sweep
Andrew Flintoff c Patel b Chawla 51 (181 for 10)
Heaved to deep backward square-leg
Anand Vasu is assistant editor of Cricinfo