India dig out four-wkt win over England

Jaipur, October 15:

Indian bowlers Munaf Patel and Romesh Powar scripted a four-wicket win over fighting England in a low-scoring opening Group A match of the ICC Champions Trophy tournament on Sunday. England was bundled out for 125 in 37 overs —it’s lowest-ever total in a limited-overs game against India — with both fast bowler Patel (3-18) and off-spinner Powar (3-24) ending up with career-best figures.

Sachin Tendulkar, playing in his world record 368th limited-overs game, top scored with 35 off 41 balls, but India hobbled briefly in its run-chase before scoring 126 for six wickets in 29.3 overs. The home team had a minor scare when fast bowler James Anderson got the wickets of Irfan Pathan (19) and Indian captain Rahul Dravid (4) in four deliveries and Tendulkar fell lbw to paceman Steve Harmison.

With seven runs needed, India lost two more wickets in space of three deliveries to off-spinner Jamie Dalrymple before Yuvraj Singh (27 not out) crossed it over the line. Earlier, England surpassed it’s previous lowest score of 149 against India — made at Sydney during the World Championship match in 1985 — when it’s top order batsmen faltered against fast bowlers Pathan (2-20) and Patel. Patel (3-18) and Pathan shared top five wickets to reduce England to 55-5 before off-spinner Ramesh Powar wrapped up the innings with three wickets in quick succession.

Dravid’s gamble paid off after he won the toss and elected to bowl first on a re-laid wicket at the Swai Man Singh Stadium in this northwestern Indian city. England’s slide began in the fourth over when right-arm seamer Patel trapped opening batsman Ian Bell lbw and later had Michael Yardy dismissed in the similar fashion. When Patel switched bowling ends, Tendulkar took an ankle high catch in the slips that dismissed dangerman Kevin Pietersen (27), who hit four boundaries. In between these jolts, left-armer Pathan got the prized wicket of England captain Andrew Flintoff, who is playing his first international game after a six-month layoff due to an ankle injury. Flintoff’s seven-ball effort could not get him off the mark as he played across Pathan’s straight delivery, and was out lbw.

Andrew Strauss (10), who was watching the procession from the other end quietly, edged to Dravid in the second slip off Pathan before Pietersen and Paul Collingwood briefly thwarted the Indian bowlers. The two Indian off-spinners — Harbhajan Singh and Powar — got into their acts soon after Pietersen’s dismissal. Dhoni scooped to a simple bat-pad catch of Collingwood (38) off Powar and Chris Read lofted Singh straight to Pathan in the deep.

Singh also took a well-judged running catch inches inside the ropes to end Dalrymple’s 24-run innings as England batsmen could score only 11 boundaries in their innings.