Well well well, if you are a cricket buff and if you missed last night's World Cup match between India and England, you missed something really spectacular. So far, most of the matches in the tourney are one-sided (almost every match was predictable) and people were losing interest in the complete event itself. Even I was satisfied with seeing the live scores on the Internet rather than watching the match on TV. I read somewhere that ICC gave a press release saying something like "this tourney is an acid test for the One Day International (ODI) cricket". And then, yesterday happened. This match provided the necessary kick to the tournament and to ODI format.
For those of you who missed the match, let me tell you what exactly happened. India scored a mammoth total of 338 thanks to the masterful century by the Little Master, Sachin Tendulkar, himself. The innings of the master was masterful because of the way he paced his innings. When Sehwag was around, he just played on without much authority. Once Sehwag was out and Gambhir was settled, the master unleashed a fierce attack on the English bowlers. Greame Swann, considered as the best among the current spinners on the world, was hit for two successive sixers.
Indians would've scored more if it was not for the mad tumble of 5 wickets in the last couple of overs. However, 338 on Indian tracks is considered to be a tough score to chase and thanks to the recent form of English batsmen in ODI, everyone thought that this will be a cakewalk for the Indian bowlers. But the English captain had some other thoughts.
Strauss and Pietersen started things off very well in a classy way, fetching easy runs off the harmless Indian bowling. It needed a special bit of fielding from Munaf Patel to break this partnership. Then one more wicket fell and things looked OK for a few minutes. Then the pair of Strauss and Bell played calmly and the tide shifted slowly but gradually towards the English side. Strauss deserved an huge applause for his first century in World Cup and his career best score of 158.
With just a few runs to score that too with 8 wickets in hand, the English win seemed inevitable. Then Zaheer struck with two wickets in two balls to change the course of events and now the scales pointed towards India. Even though few more wickets fell and the bowling and fielding departments of India increased their momentum, the lower-order batsmen of England held their nerve and hit a few lusty blows in the end. After two sixes in the penultimate over and one more in the last over, the English team were left to score with 5 runs in 3 balls. A bye came in the first ball and couple in the second.
The match got tied after the batsmen had to settle for a single off the final ball.
After all, it was ODI cricket which won the last night's encounter. An epic match to bring the focus back on ODIs. I hope we get to see many more thrillers like this in the tourney.