K.C. Vijaya Kumar
Sehwag scintillates with blistering knock
Cuttack: In an exhibition of kinetic energy and calm nerves, India defeated England by six wickets in the fifth ODI of the seven-match series at the Barabati Stadium here on Wednesday night.
Chasing England’s 270, India found impetus in Virender Sehwag’s blistering 91 and the finishing touches through captain M.S. Dhoni’s assured 51 and Suresh Raina’s unbeaten 54 to finish at 273 for four in 43.4 overs. India leads the series 5-0.
India’ chase had the inevitability of children tucking into chocolates as Virender Sehwag (91, 73b, 15x4, 1x6) struck Steve Harmison’s fourth ball past the ropes.
At the other end, Sachin Tendulkar (50, 57b, 6x4) was mentor as well as fan, dispensing advice and friendly punches to Sehwag.
Man-of-the-Match Sehwag’s rippling shots were in full flow as he cruised past his fifty in off-spinner Graeme Swann’s first over that went for 21 runs with the key sequence being 4, 6, 4 and 4.
Tendulkar, locked in a tussle with Andrew Flintoff, emerged unscathed with his aesthetics intact.
The opening partnership yielded 136 runs off 119 deliveries until Tendulkar tried to cart Harmison and missed the line. A stunned silence gave way to rousing applause as Yuvraj Singh walked in. But he could not escape his first failure in this series.
Zest was back in the England ranks as Broad darted in though Sehwag was unlucky to walk back as the ball seemed to be headed past leg-stump.
In a span of 20 deliveries, India had lost three wickets but Dhoni (51, 61b, 5x4) and Raina (54 n.o., 53b, 8x4) dug in with a crucial 94-run fourth-wicket partnership.
After a few turgid overs, southpaw Raina pulled Bopara and Dhoni walked across and glanced Flintoff to signal relief.
England had its share of excitement and despair as Matt Prior went up in appeal for a caught behind as well as a stumping of Dhoni, who survived and as his push-drive off Broad raced past the turf and Raina found the fence repeatedly, victory was secure despite the Indian captain’s dismissal in the final stretch.
Earlier, Kevin Pietersen’s unbeaten 111 (128b, 10x4, 1x6) helped England score 270 for four in 50 overs after Dhoni opted to field. The England innings commenced briskly as openers Ravi Bopara and Alastair Cook, who replaced Ian Bell, displayed a sense of urgency, which also undid them in Zaheer Khan’s opening spell.
At 68 for two in 9.5 overs, Pietersen top-edged a four while hooking Irfan and then found his fluency through drives on either side as he struck six fours in his first 25 runs. He shared an 89-run third-wicket partnership with Collingwood (40).
Pietersen was forced to rely on the singles though he struck a four and a six in a Harbhajan over, to go past 3000 ODI runs. Harbhajan, however, found joy in the same over, scalping Collingwood.
Soon Andrew Flintoff snicked Ishant Sharma and as Tendulkar leapt and caught at first slip, England paused at 158 for four before Pietersen settled into a 112-run unbeaten fifth-wicket partnership with an in-form Owais Shah (66 n.o., 57b, 9x4).
An inner-edged drive that just missed the stumps off Ishant, was the lone blemish in Pietersen’s seventh ODI hundred that gained a sporting crowd’s applause.
Pietersen and Shah however failed to take off in the batting power-play they opted in overs 41 to 45, mustering only 32 runs.
The duo did marginally better in the last five overs, scoring 42 as England finished with a challenging total, which proved inadequate after Sehwag lit up the night.SCOREBOARD
England: R. Bopara c Yuvraj b Zaheer24, A. Cook c Tendulkar b Zaheer11, K. Pietersen (not out) 111, P. Collingwoodc Zaheer b Harbhajan 40, A.Flintoff c Tendulkar b Ishant 0, O.Shah (not out) 66; Extras: (lb-14, w-4)18; Total: (for four wkts. in 50 overs)270.
Fall of wickets: 1-33, 2-68, 3-157,4-158.
India bowling: Irfan 10-1-57-0, Zaheer10-1-60-2, Ishant 10-0-54-1,Harbhajan 10-0-47-1, Yuvraj10-0-38-0.
India: V. Sehwag lbw b Broad 91,S. Tendulkar b Harmison 50, Yuvraj c& b Bopara 6, M.S. Dhoni lbw Swann51, S. Raina (not out) 54, Rohit Sharma(not out) 8; Extras (lb-4, w-8, nb-1)13; Total (for four wkts. in 43.4 overs):273.
Fall of wickets: 1-136, 2-156, 3-156, 4-250.
England bowling: Harmison 10-1-51-1, Broad 8.4-0-54-1, Flintoff 9-0-43-0, Samit 3-0-23-0, Swann 7-0-56-1, Bopara 6-1-42-1.