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Udal spins England to famous 212 run series-levelling win over India

Written by: Staff
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Mumbai, Mar 22: Off-spinner Shaun Udal produced a brilliant spell of 7.2 overs and broke the back of the famed Indian batting line-up claiming four wickets to bowl England to a massive 212-run victory in the third and final Test to level the three-Test series 1-1.

With this win, the depleted England team became the first side from the island nation since David Gower's 1984-85 side not to lose a Test series in India.

Chasing 313 for a win, India were bowled out for a paltry 100, 74 minutes after lunch to give England a huge series-levelling win.

The hosts had won the second Test at Mohali by nine wickets, while the first at Nagpur was drawn.

England, who had set India a stiff target of 313, saw the two main hosts' batsmen Rahul Darvid and Sachin Tendulkar baulk the English attack, with Tendulkar looking in a murderous mood after his first innings failure in his 132nd record Test appearance.

The two put on 42 runs for the fourth wicket and were looking set to at least force a draw for their country if not a win, when the England stand-in captain Andrew Flintoff demolished these thoughts and took his team towards a superb win inspite of missing their top two batsmen and two bowlers due to injuries.

Resuming at 75 for three after lunch with Dravid and Tendulkar in complete control, India suffered an immediate setback on the third ball off Flintoff which nipped back and bounced slightly higher surprising Dravid to take an edge to the wicket keeper. The Indian skipper made only 9 in a stay of 111 minutes to leave India toterring at 75 for four.

In the next over, Shaun Udal got the biggest scalp when Tendulkar pushed tentatively forward as the ball spun and took the edge of his bat to forward shortleg fielder Ian Bell who made no mistake in grabbing the chance to open the floodgates for England. Tendulkar made 34 from 54 balls with five boundaries. India had then slumped to 76 for five.

Sehwag, who is suffering from back spasm, then came out to join Yuvraj along with a runner, but one could make out the pain that was troubling him and he was also dismissed without opening his account, trapped leg before to James Anderson with India reeling at 77 for six.

Yuvraj Singh, at the other end, played a couple of glorious straight drives off James Anderson, but Mahendra Singh Dhoni looked as if he was trying to get out on every ball.

Dhoni was given a reprieve by Monty Panesar when he had scored just four runs, but three balls later Panesar made no mistake in taking the catch to dismiss the Indian wicket-keeper for five with the team score at 92 for seven.

The fall of Dhoni was the last nail on the coffin as Udal then ran through the tail with Flintoff getting the important wicket of Yuvraj Singh, caught in the slip cordon by Collingwood, to spark of celebrations in the England camp. Earlier in the morning, India, resuming at 18 for one, were put on the backfoot by an incisive spell of fast bowling by Matthew Hoggard and Andrew Flintoff who picked up both the overnigtht batsmen Anil Kumble and Wasim Jaffer to leave India at 33 for three.

Hoggard struck the first blow in the third over of the day when he got nightwatchman Anil Kumble on his overnight score of eight, caught in front of the wicket. Kumble seemed to be a triffle unlucky as the ball looked like going down the legside.

Jaffer and Dravid then survived some hostile bowling by the pacers and just when it looked like Jaffer had settled down playing a superb back foot cover drive of James Anderson, Flintoff, who replaced Hoggard had the Mumbai lad trapped in front with a a sharp inswinger for 10 with India at 33 for three and looking down the barrel.

Sachin Tendulkar then joined the Indian captain Rahul Darvid, and the Mumbai blaster who has been suffering from a shoulder injury, started off watchfully, as the crowd which had booed him earlier was egging him on this time.

He started with a steer to third man off Flintoff for a boundary and then, after surviving some close calls for leg before wicket, opened up to give the crowd lots to cheer for.

Tendulkar singled out James Anderson for special treatment and after a flick to the mid-wicket boundary, he punched him off the backfoot for a three.

Flintoff then introduced spin in the form of Monty Panesar, and Tendulkar showed his class when he hit two boundaries in the latter's over. Dravid, at the other end, was as solid as ever and preferred to give the strike to the master blaster as India reached lunch with these two senior batsmen entrenching themselves on the crease.

However, the scenario changed after the lunch break and in a madness lasting 74 minutes, India lost their last seven wickets for just 25 runs, in 15.2 overs.

Flintoff was named the-man-of-the-match and man-of-the-series for his outstanding performance with the bat and ball. He led from the front to instill confidence in the young and depleted side and fashioned a remarkable come back from behind to square the series.

India though discovered a couple of bowling talents, yet the failure of their senior batsmen, especially Tendulkar and Virender Sehwag always had them on the backfoot.

Dravid, who upto now has been exemplary in his batting and captaincy, made a huge error of judgement in the final Test when he opted to field first on winning the toss, thus leaving them exposed to bat on the fifth day wicket, which always gives the bowlers an advantage here.

UNI

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