And now, a tie!

The result helped England pocket the series as the home team had won the previous two games while just one match remained to complete the series. K. C. Vijaya Kumar reports.

India competed with England on level terms and at last a victory seemed possible. But much like the World Cup game in Bangalore where the teams scored an identical score (338), a similar climax veered around leaving the rivals flummoxed and the fans perplexed. It was a tie yet again between India and England as the fourth match of the NatWest series proved to be a humdinger at Lord's.

India scored 280 for five thanks to M. S. Dhoni and Suresh Raina combining well in a 169-run fifth-wicket partnership. In reply, England suffered early setbacks, found an anchor and accelerator in Ravi Bopara (96, 111b, 6x4), again lost wickets and when the skies opened up for the third time, the host had scored 270 for eight in 48.5 overs.

It was exactly, to reiterate a cliche, what the doctor had ordered! England's total was the par-score recommended by the Duckworth-Lewis method and with no further play possible, the match was, to quote the official verdict, ‘abandoned as a tie.' The result helped England pocket the series as the home team had won the previous two games while just one match remained to complete the series.

England's chase hinged entirely on Bopara and the alliances he sewed up with Ian Bell and a wagging tail in which Tim Bresnan and Graeme Swann tested the Indians' patience. “Eoin Morgan's injury provides an opportunity to another player to stake his claim and we have seen Bopara do well,” England captain Alastair Cook had said a few days ahead of the game.

Bopara rose to the occasion again and displayed calm nerves. He hung back to guide the bowlers behind square and was also open to play the regular run-grabbers like the drive and the pull. He revived England which, at one stage, wobbled — 61 for three — after Cook, Craig Kieswetter and Jonathan Trott returned to the pavilion.

Along with Bell, Bopara shared a 98-run fourth-wicket partnership in which the duo cut out the risks and played the percentages rather well. Bell suddenly tried to impose himself against Ravindra Jadeja and Ben Stokes popped a catch back to R. Ashwin. It was 173 for five and a game on the boil failed to deter Bopara as he moved on while Bresnan and Swann struck cameos.

Rain also returned and increased the game's unpredictable under-currents. When play resumed for the second time, Swann got run-out and Bopara, consumed by the desire to finish the match before another twist, lofted Munaf Patel and watched in dismay as Jadeja plucked a catch under pressure. The skies opened up again and with no further play possible, the match ended in a tie. “I wanted to win the match for England. I didn't want a tie,” rued Bopara.

Earlier, the Indian innings commenced well with openers Parthiv Patel and Ajinkya Rahane sharing a 65-run partnership. The script changed a bit when Stuart Broad's low full-toss trapped Rahane and soon an injured Parthiv miscued a pull. Rahul Dravid and Virat Kohli had just settled down when Swann prised out both in his first over.

India needed a partnership to move the innings forward and the skipper-deputy duo of Dhoni and Raina complied with a 169-run fifth-wicket alliance off 147 balls. “Initially we wanted to stabilise as wickets had fallen and we thought of going for the runs later. It was a good partnership,” Dhoni said.

Raina's (84, 75b, 7x4, 2x6) clouts soon fell in place though Cook placed three men on the fence and the England skipper's efforts to stop Dhoni's singles also did not materialise. Raina struck Steven Finn straight down the ground and Swann's niggardly line was dismantled by Dhoni's (78, 71b, 6x4, 3x6) hefty blows. “How does he pirouette his leg, clear the front leg and strike it over mid-off?” queried a radio commentator.

The two kept hitting the ball all over the park and when Raina walked away in the end, holing out in the deep, the crowd was on its feet at Lord's and the game was set up nicely for a good chase. “Some of the shots he plays over mid-wicket are just incredible,” Bopara said. May be the batting gods did not want both Raina and Bopara on the losing side or it was just cricket's own way of living up to its ‘glorious uncertainties' tag.

The result offered no consolation to India, which badly needed a victory. To make it worse the match was easing into its grasp when inclement weather intervened and Dhoni admitted to some confusion about the rain-influenced revised target. In the end all he had was his and Raina's knocks and R. P. Singh's efforts with the ball, upfront and also in the last stretch.


India: Parthiv Patel c Bopara b Broad 27, A. Rahane lbw b Broad 38, R. Dravid c & b Swann 19, V. Kohli c Kieswetter b Swann 16, S. Raina c Stokes b Finn 84, M. S. Dhoni (not out) 78, R. Jadeja (not out) 0. Extras (lb-5, w-13): 18. Total (for five wkts., in 50 overs): 280.

Fall of wickets: 1-65, 2-70, 3-109, 4-110, 5-279.

England bowling: Anderson 10-2-57-0, Finn 9.4-0-54-1, Bresnan 10-1-51-0, Broad 9.2-0-52-2, Bopara 2-0-12-0, Swann 9-1-49-2.

England: A. Cook c Kohli b R. P. Singh 12, C. Kieswetter c Jadeja b R. P. Singh 12, J. Trott b Praveen 23, I. Bell c (sub) Tiwary b Jadeja 54, R. Bopara c Jadeja b Munaf 96, B. Stokes c & b Ashwin 7, T. Bresnan b R. P. Singh 27, G. Swann (run out) 31, S. Finn (not out) 0, J. Anderson (not out) 0. Extras (lb-5, w-2, nb-1): 8. Total (for eight wkts., in 48.5 overs): 270.

Fall of wickets: 1-21, 2-27, 3-61, 4-159, 5-173, 6-220, 7-270, 8-270.

India bowling: Praveen 9-0-35-1, R. P. Singh 9-0-59-3, Munaf 9.5-0-54-1, Ashwin 10-0-44-1, Jadeja 9-0-60-1, Raina 2-0-13-0.