|Scorecard:||India v England|
|Player:||SR Tendulkar, A Flintoff, Yuvraj Singh|
|Event:||England in India 2008/09|
DateLine: 15th December 2008
Sachin Tendulkar and Yuvraj Singh put India on course for a famous victory in Chennai the fourth-highest successful chase in history and the most successful chase on the sub-continent. England was ahead in the thrilling contest, but a resilient India chased down the daunting target of 387. The chase was put on course by a blistering innings from Sehwag last evening and he was rightly chosen as the man of the match over Andrew Strauss and Sachin Tendulkar. Pietersen and his boys will find the defeat very hard to swallow as they were in control for about 75 percent of the match. Flintoff bowled his heart out but the support from the other end was nil. Harmison, Anderson, Panesar and to some extent Swann bowled negatively. Cook at silly point missed Tendulkar early in the innings when he had not reached even 10 runs and so that proved to be really costly. The English team was for one hour in the morning session in control but then it was India all the way. Rahul Dravidís form will be of concern and India will have three days of rest before the next encounter starts.
England starts off well but loses the plot
VVS Laxman fell shortly after lunch when he turned one into the hands of Ian Bell at short leg. He played effortlessly in reaching 26, including a dreamy on drive off Flintoff in the morning session, Swann snapped him up. He was again rewarded for giving the ball a sharp tweak.
It was from here that England could have applied the pressure but then they were more concerned in unsettling Yuvraj with verbal volley rather than with any skill with the ball. The stand between Yuvraj and Tendulkar flourished slowly setting up the final session for India where they could go for the glory.
The stand between Tendulkar and Yuvraj was a superbly controlled one with the pair batting in contrasted styles. Yuvraj was the aggressive of the two as he played his natural game, rather than prod around as in the first innings. England tried everything to unsettle him, but this time he didn't get sucked into any verbal warfare with Andrew Flintoff. The presence of Tendulkar was vital. He remained entrenched and massively focused after overcoming a testing spell against Flintoff. The fact his half century took 107 balls was a sign of how he controlled the innings at his pace. He manoeuvered the spinners with great skill, paddling Swann from outside off stump, forcing Kevin Pietersen to fiddle with his field settings. Kevin Pietersen could not set field for his bowlers as they bowled too many boundary balls.
India pushes for glory and achieves it
When the final session resumed India needed 84 more runs with six wickets in hand to re-write the record books. Yuvraj had recorded his half-century and Tendulkar was batting well. Yuvraj kick-started the innings by advancing down the track and hammering Swann over mid-wicket for a boundary and he looked to be in a hurry. Tendulkar had to calm him down on several occasions and asked him to keep his cool. Tendulkar did not take much risk as he used the pace of the bowlers to work around and milked the spinners with great ease. He was determined to stay around and help India see through the victory. Ten years back against Pakistan in a famous encounter at the very same ground Tendulkar had fallen with victory in sight and witnessed in horror from the dressing room his team hurtling to defeat falling short by 12 runs.
As the target grew near, Tendulkar drew near his 41st century and then the match effectively out of Englandís grasp Yuvraj was looking to give Tendulkar the opportunity to score his century. With four runs away from victory and one run away from century, crowd anticipating both the milestones, Tendulkar fittingly scored the final runs by paddling Swann to fine leg for a boundary and in the process reaching his hundred and securing India one of its finest victory. He stood mid-pitch arms aloft and Yuvraj ran up to him and gave a bear-hug. Mission accomplished, India are one up in the two Test series with one to go at Mohali. It is the little masterís second ton on trot after the last one he scored against Australians at Nagpur.
England will look at the second session during the fourth day and realise that it was the turning point of the match. They should have been looking for quick runs but instead they had scored on two boundaries in 22 overs and that slowed up their scoring rate. For India the turning point will be Sehwagís blistering innings last evening where he had set up the match. For England Flintoff tried manfully while the others were ineffective. His spells against Yuvraj in the evening of the second day and Tendulkar in the morning session of the final day were of inspirational stuff, but the sad fact was that none of his team mates were able to take a cue and put in a match winning performance.