London: All-rounders Ronnie Irani and Andrew Flintoff gave India's bowlers something to think about in their triangular series one-day international at The Oval here on Tuesday.
In a match reduced by rain to 32 overs per side, Irani (53) and Flintoff (51) were the major contributors to England's total of 229 for eight. The pair put on 67 for the third wicket, Flintoff facing 38 balls including one six and six fours and Irani, whose innings was his maiden fifty at this level, facing 55 balls including one six and two fours. Michael Vaughan also chipped in with a useful 30 before Zaheer Khan took two wickets in two balls at the start of the final over to have England captain Nasser Hussain caught for six and Alec Stewart yorked for nought. But Darren Gough (seven not out) pulled the final ball of the innings for six. Alex Tudor was three not out. India, in what was a dress rehearsal for Saturday's final at Lord's, made a poor start in the field after captain Sourav Ganguly won the toss. Left-arm quick Ashish Nehra sent down three wide deliveries in the game's first over although he did beat the outside edge of opener Nick Knight's bat. But, in between playing and missing, Knight struck some resounding boundaries. However, at the other end, Marcus Trescothick was struggling and leg-spinner. Anil Kumble's first ball saw the left-hander (nine) bowled playing over the top of a yorker having faced 24 balls. And when India brought on another spinner England lost their second wicket. Knight's top-edged sweep off left-armer Yuvraj Singh's fifth ball well caught by a diving Mohammad Kaif. Knight was out for 31 and at 72 for two in the 12th over England looked to be demonstrating the same failings against spin that had cost them dear in Sunday's defeat by Sri Lanka. Flintoff looked uncertain early on but subsequently swung Kumble away for a towering six. But Irani had an escape when a fierce drive off Yuvraj was dropped by Kaif at short cover with the Essex captain on 20. However, both batsmen found their form, Flintoff going to his fifty with a boundary off Ajit Agarkar. Medium-pacer Agarkar though soon had his revenge, Flintoff mistiming a pull that was well caught in the deep by Ashish Nehra to leave England 148 for three in the 23rd over. Irani then should have been out for 38 when Test wicket-keeper Ajay Ratra, in his series debut after one-day glove man Rahul Dravid injured his left hamstring, fumbled a regulation stumping off Yuvraj. Vaughan maintained the tempo, his runs coming off just 17 balls before an edge off left-arm quick Khan caught by Yuvraj after the Yorkshire batsman had helped Irani add 48 for the fourth wicket. But 196 for four soon became 202 for five when Irani was clean bowled by Kumble hitting across the line.
Laxman in; Ganguly rules out major changes