NatWest Series, match 8

England v India

At The Oval, July 9. England won by 64 runs. England 5 pts. Toss: India.

A dress rehearsal for the final was settled by a centre-stage performance from Irani. He followed an energetic 53 from 55 balls with a bustling five for 26 - both career-bests - then brought down the curtain by holding the winning catch at long-on. Only Graeme Hick, against Zimbabwe at Harare in February 2000, had scored fifty and taken five wickets in the same one-day international for England before. Until Irani's remarkable spell of four wickets for one run in ten balls midway through the Indian innings, the game had been in the balance. But when Hoggard persuaded an in-form Tendulkar to edge a booming drive to the keeper, it was all but over. Not even an entertaining last-wicket flurry could prevent India's only defeat. In another game reduced to 32 overs a side by the weather, England were inserted in damp conditions but still managed to rack up an imposing 229. Irani, dropped by Kaif off Yuvraj on 20, was all industry, Flintoff biffed a half-century from 35 deliveries, and Vaughan added an exquisite 17-ball cameo that included an impudent flick for six over backward square leg off Zaheer. Neither England's late collapse nor Sehwag's early fireworks were enough to save India.

Man of the Match: R. C. Irani.

© John Wisden & Co