Resurgent England bounce India out
'You're not Singh-ing anymore,' chanted some English fans, and India certainly weren't as they were dumped out of the competition that they won two years ago, with one Super-Eight game still to be played. With Lord's bathed in brilliant sunshine, a capacity crowd watched as England held their nerve for a three-run victory which ensured that new champions would be crowned on June 21. Around half of them would have gone home happy. Kevin Pietersen shared a 71-run partnership with Ravi Bopara, before Ryan Sidebottom and Graeme Swann picked up two wickets apiece to derail India's chase. MS Dhoni and Yusuf Pathan added 63 from six overs at the end as the game wound to a frenetic finish, but India had simply left themselves with too much to do.
The turning point was the dismissal of Yuvraj Singh, superbly stumped by James Foster as he reached out to drive Swann. Yuvraj had smashed 17 - including two sixes - from eight balls prior to that, but Foster's quicksilver glovework ensured that India were left a Snowdon-sized peak to climb without their most explosive batsman. They whittled it down to 19 from Sidebottom's final over, but though Yusuf clubbed the fourth ball for a straight six to induce palpitations amongst the English support, a single off the next ball sealed India's fate.
Much of the credit needs to go to Pietersen, who came to the crease after Luke Wright had ballooned a pull to short fine leg. With Bopara rotating the strike, the runs didn't come in a torrent but they came steadily enough. There were some eye-catching strokes too. Bopara played a stunning pull for four off RP Singh, while Pietersen said hello to Ishant Sharma with a contemptuous flick for four over midwicket. When Ishant followed up with a short delivery, Bopara deposited him into the stands behind square leg.
With Pietersen then smearing RP down the ground for four, 40 came from the six overs of Powerplay. The entry of Yuvraj, who made a habit of dismissing Pietersen in India last winter, gave India no respite, as 20 came from his two overs. The cause wasn't helped by some poor fielding on the rope from Zaheer and a general air of listlessness. Harbhajan Singh managed to rein in the scoring rate, but by halfway, England had 71 on the board and nine wickets in hand.
The complexion of the game changed with the introduction of Jadeja right after. Bopara was bowled going for the cut after a run-a-ball 37. Pietersen continued to scamper between the wickets with real energy, and when he hit a massive six over midwicket off Jadeja in his next over, England seemed poised for a late onslaught.
It proved a bit of a false dawn though. The next ball arrowed into his pads, ending a 27-ball knock of 46, and Dimitri Mascarenhas and Owais Shah weren't quite Pietersen's match in the big-hitting stakes. Though Ishant proved expensive, Jadeja went through his spell for 26, and Harbhajan chipped in with the wicket of Shah to further stymie progress.
The final flourish never came. Paul Collingwood clipped Zaheer Khan for one four, but was then leg before trying to be too cute. And with Harbhajan picking up both Foster and Swann in the final over, it took five wides to take England beyond 150.
It was one of those in-between totals, and India's hopes took a hit early when Rohit Sharma played on while attempting a pull. By then, the English method was obvious, with nearly half the deliveries dropped short and directed at the body. And when Suresh Raina miscued a hook of Sidebottom minutes later, the tactics were further vindicated.
What followed effectively basted the Indian goose and put it in the tandoor. Neither Gautam Gambhir nor Jadeja could seize the initiative, and by the time Gambhir paddled Mascarenhas to short fine leg, the 38-run partnership had taken seven overs. Yuvraj tried to inject some life into the innings, and there was a late flurry from the impressive Yusuf, but it was all a bit too late.
Two years ago, Indian fans taunted Misbah-ul-Haq with chants of "Miss-ba five runs". On Sunday, it was their team that fell three short. No Singh-ing, no glory. Just time to go home, after playing the next game - against South Africa - for formalities' sake.
Dileep Premachandran is an associate editor at Cricinfo