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World Cup: Nail-biting thriller ends in a draw

Bangalore: England’s decision to take the batting powerplay in the 43rd over backfired as Zaheer Khan struck two decisive blows taking out dangermen Ian Bell (69) and Andrew Strauss (158) off successive deliveries to bring India back in the Group B encounter at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium here on Sunday.

Ian Bell followed up Strauss’ ton with an equally sparkling half century to put India on the backfoot and take command of the run-chase.

England skipper Andrew Strauss went from strength to strength to bring up a stroke-filled century off just 99 balls to surprise India as England looked set to challenge a mammoth target of 339.

Earlier in the evening, Dhoni pressed his specialist spinners Harbhajan Singh and Piyush Chawla into service early to check England’s climbing scoring rate, courtesy Andrew Strauss who reached a quickfire half century to lead his team’s run chase.

After a rollicking start by England openers, Munaf Patel pulled out a stunning reflex catch off his own bowling to send back Kevin Pietersen (31) who took off chasing 339 to win.

England skipper Andrew Strauss and Pietersen came out with an aggressive intent to kick off England’s chase.

Earlier, Sachin Tendulkar scored his 47th ODI century to propel India to 338 all out against England who had to rely on Tim Bresnan’s 5/48 to pull things back in the last 10 overs.

Tendulkar reached the century, his 98th in international cricket, in 103 balls as the legend, playing his last World Cup, went after the England bowlers.

He partnered with Gutam Gambhir to hammer England in a second-wicket partnership of 146 runs, which was dominated by Tendulkar’s fireworks.

In the afternoon, Indian skipper MS Dhoni won the toss and elected to bat first. After surviving an early scare, followed by some spanking shots, Virender Sehwag (35) edged one to Matt Prior off the bowling of Bresnan.

Sehwag’s intent to spank England bowlers from the word go almost led to his wicket in the first over of the innings itself as he edged James Anderson thrice but the ball fell short of diving fielders. However, he survived the close shaves and settled in with Sachin Tendulkar to give India a start.

Tendulkar led from the front and brought up his half century with a six off Paul Collingwood during the big partnership with Gambhir to put India on course for a huge total. The partnership ended with Gambhir’s departure for 51 against the run of play when Graeme Swann bowled him.

Andrew Strauss heaved a sigh of relief to see the back of Tendulkar but the wicket came too late in the day as the Indian master had hammered 120 off 115 balls before being dismissed by James Anderson.

Yuvraj Singh (58) and MS Dhoni (31) then took England bowlers on after Sachin Tendulkar’s departure. Yuvraj resembled his fluent self in the half-century knock but just when he looked to take the game away from England, the visitors pulled things back by removing him and Dhoni in successive balls.

That led to a flurry of wickets, mainly due to Bresnan who pegged Indian back with his five-wicket haul. But James Anderson earned the unfortunate recognition of becoming the most expensive English bowler in World Cup history by virtue of his spell of 1/91 in 9.5 overs.

India went into the match after registering an emphatic victory over Bangladesh, while England just managed to beat Netherlands. A win here of either teams will see them top the Group A with four points.

India, strongly fancied to add a second World Cup trophy to their 1983 success, made one change in their team that beat Bangladesh on the opening day of the World Cup. In-form leg-spinner Piyush Chawla replaced pacer S Sreesanth who went for 53 in his five overs against Bangladesh.

England made two changes in their team that won against Netherlands. Ajmal Shahzad came in place of Stuart Broad and Michael Yardy made it to the playing eleven at the expense of Ravi Bopara.

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