Second One-Day International

England v India

Julian Guyer

At The Oval, September 3. England won by 70 runs. Toss: India.

For the first time since they beat Pakistan in the World Cup more than 18 months earlier, England won a match batting first. Remarkably, it was the first time in their last 24 completed one-day games that the team batting first had gone on to win. And, as had become commonplace, England were heavily indebted to Flintoff. He came to the wicket with the score an uncertain 98 for three, soon a precarious 105 for four. To begin with, Flintoff and Collingwood watchfully saw off the bewitching Harbhajan Singh, whose exemplary spell of varied, suffocatingly accurate off-spin threatened to stall England completely. But once he was bowled out, the shackles were broken and the runs flowed. Towards the end they came in torrents: 100 gushed from the last ten overs, with Flintoff giving a masterful display of clean hitting. As remarkable, though, was the joy radiating between batsman and crowd, who revelled in his success. But if the spectators were dismayed that, after slamming four sixes in his 93-ball innings, he fell aiming for a fifth that would have brought a century, Flintoff himself could hardly have seemed less concerned. Collingwood, initially outpacing his partner, contributed a healthy 79. In reply, India stuttered to ten for two when a run-out - so comic it might have been choreographed by Chaplin in harness with John Cleese - ended Ganguly's innings. He played Harmison into the off and called for a run. But he collided mid-pitch with Laxman and dropped his bat. On another day Flintoff 's overarm throw from close range might have missed, but not in this golden season. An Indian-record last-wicket stand of 64 between Harbhajan and Balaji held things up before Flintoff, naturally, bowled Balaji. England had an unassailable 2-0 lead in the series.

Man of the Match: A. Flintoff. Attendance: 14,806; receipts £526,167.

© John Wisden & Co