KEEPING LORD'S WORLD CLASS
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England secured the NatWest series after a thrilling tie in a rain affected match with India at Lord's.
England, chasing 281 for victory, were 270-8 when the rain which had been threatening to hit, finally ended the match with the sides level on the Duckworth/Lewis method - England needing 11 from the seven unbowled balls.
Ravi Bopara, who made a stunning 96, was dismissed from what turned out to be the last ball of the match, caught on the mid wicket boundary off the bowling of Munaf Patel.
India, without an international victory on this tour, celebrated what some of their players thought was a victory, only for the readjusted D/L par score to match England’s total.
With hindsight Bopara will be disappointed to have taken on Patel when a dot ball would have resulted in an England win, but the result was arguably the fairest reflection on a superb match.
Wet weather thriller
Bopara arrived at the crease with England struggling on 61-3 but produced his highest One Day International score and finest innings for his country.
Together with Ian Bell he steadied the England ship during a partnership of 98 before Bell holed out at long off to Jadeja for a well constructed 54.
Bopara held his nerve though, and together with firstly Tim Bresnan (27) and then Graeme Swann (31) he took England to within shooting distance of victory with a perfectly paced chase.
England couldn’t account for the rain which was threatening for much of the afternoon though and finally struck at the end of the 44th over with India ahead on the D/L.
The players returned almost immediately, and England did enough to get back into the lead thanks to a boundary from Swann when the rain once again fell at the end of the 45th over.
After another short break the players returned with England needing 39 from 30 but with an even more threatening raincloud sitting in behind the famous Lord’s Pavilion.
RP Singh bowled a tight 48th over to put the pressure back on England before Patel brilliantly ran out Swann and dismissed Bopara before the rain returned.
With a touch of green on the surface, England would have been confident of exposing India’s inexperienced top order.
But openers Ajinkja Rahane and Parthiv Patel have impressed on this tour and they rode their luck to post an opening stand of 65.
Stuart Broad got England back into the game thought with a quick double blow. Rahane was the first to depart, trapped LBW by a yorker, before Patel skied a hook to Bopara at mid on.
Rahul Dravid and Virat Kohli were also dismissed in quick succession, this time by Graeme Swann, who rediscovered his knack of getting wickets in the first over of a spell.
Kohli was caught behind by Craig Kieswetter before Dravid was smartly caught and bowled by England’s off spinner.
Dhoni and Raina have been the pick of India’s batsmen in this series though and they produced a breathtaking stand of 169 – a new record for an India pair in an ODI at Lord’s.
Their batting was a mix of accumulation and mighty hitting - Raina striking Broad into the upper Grand Stand and Dhoni manhandling a Swann delivery just as far into the Tavern Stand.
The batting powerplay yielded 58 at almost two runs per-ball and despite the late dismissal of Raina for 84, Dhoni saw his team to the finish with 78 not out.
For much of England’s innings it looked as if their total would prove too much for their hosts, who lost Cook and Kieswetter early and were well behind the rate for some time.
But Bopara’s failed to panic in the face of a rising required run rate and Bresnan and Swann showed their value with quick late runs.
India have just one match, in Cardiff on Friday, to finally register a win and few who watched a battling performance today would begrudge them that.
England seem set to be without Broad for that match after he left the field clutching his tricep just two balls into bowling the final over of India's innings.