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Harbhajan spins India to a dramatic 39-run win against England

Written by: Staff

New Delhi, Mar 28 (UNI) Man of the Match Harbhajan Singh top scored with 37 and then bared his fangs for a career best haul of five for 31 to turn the game on its head as India, despite yet another slipshod show by its top order, beat England by 39 runs to go one up in the seven-match series at the Ferozeshah Kotla Stadium here today.

The 40,000-odd crowd expected cricketing pyrotechnique from the strokemakers but Team India top order fired blank again and the day belonged to the offie from Jalandhar, who first saved India from blushes with the bat and then emerged as the wrecker-in-chief, claiming five wickets.

Chasing a comfortable target of 204, England faltered on double trouble in an eventful over. Irfan Pathan's third ball of the over kissed Andrew Strauss' blade en route to MS Dhoni's gloves. Next man in Owais Shah made a bold statement with a cover drive off the first ball he faced but Pathan had his revenge in the very next delivery, which rapped Shah on his pad and umpire AV Jayprakash gave him the finger. England were reduced to four for two after the first over.

Kevin Pietersen (46) and Matt Prior (22) then added 53 runs for the third wicket before Harbhajan Singh, in his first over, invited Prior to sweep him and Gautam Gambhir sprinted a few yards to take the catch at square leg boundary.

Skipper Flintoff then joined Pietersen and the duo displayed wide range of shots to add to Dravid's woes but Yuvraj Singh removed Pietersen with his first delivery when the maverick batsman swept him to Gautam Gambhir, barely a meter before the square leg ropes.

Flintoff was going great guns as he spanked S Sreenath for two sixes and a four in an over but Harbhajan then wrested initiatives when the England captain missed him and was trapped in front and Geraint Jones (0) was bowled through the yawning bat-pad gap.

Flintoff's aggressive 37-ball knock of 41 was studded with four boundaries and two sixes.

Going smoothly at 116 for three, England were suddenly 120 for six.

Things worsened for the visitors as Ian Blackwell (10) swept Harbhajan and perished the same away as Pietersen and the ball swirled before finding a desperate Gambhir diving to take a well-judged catch. Collingwood followed soon when he tried to flick the offie and an alert Kaif grabbed the ball as England stuttered to 141 for eight.

Yuvraj Singh trapped Kabir Ali (0) with a skidding delivery and it was left to Irfan Pathan to take the wicket of Liam Plunkett (14) to complete formality in 38.1 overs as England were all out for 164.

More UNI AY DH HT1707

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