London: Man-of-the-match Mohammad Kaif's unbeaten 87 guided India to a remarkable two wicket triangular series final win over England at Lord's on Saturday.
Chasing England's 325 for five, India finished on 326 for eight with three balls remaining. Zaheer Khan, who had earlier been the visitors most effective bowler with three wickets, was four not out. India's total was the second best score to win a One-day International following Australia's 330 against South Africa earlier this year. Indian skipper Saurav Ganguly, who celebrated the extraordinary win by ripping off his shirt and dancing round the balcony, said he had always thought they could snatch the trophy. "It was a fantastic performance by the team but merited on the way we played in the whole series," he said.
"I always thought given the great state of the pitch we were in with a chance," he added. England captain Nasser Hussain, who scored his maiden One-day century earlier in his 72nd appearance, paid fulsome tribute to the Indians. "To be honest I would rather have scored nought and won. "Full credit to the Indians though, they played out of their skins and their batting just doesn't stop coming at you," he said. Kaif's career-best One-day score came from 75 balls including two sixes and six fours. India was almost out of the game at 146 for five in the 24th over with 20-year-old Yuvraj Singh on three when 21-year-old Kaif came to the wicket.
"I was never really nervous to tell you the truth and I knew when I joined Yuvraj we could still pull it off because I've played with him before and we know each others style and are good between the wickets," Kaif said. The pair stylishly brought India back into the game with a hundred partnership off 90 deliveries. A changed ball did not help England's cause, 39 runs coming off the first 21 deliveries after the switch. Left-hander Yuvraj brought up his fifty off 53 balls, Kaif reaching the landmark off just 50 balls.
Entering the final 10 Overs India needed 69 for victory. But Yuvraj then turned medium-pacer Paul Collingwood behind square and was caught by Tudor. India lost two wickets with the score on 314, Harbhajan Singh bowled by Andrew Flintoff for 15 and two balls later the same bowler having Anil Kumble caught behind for a duck. India got the target down to 11 runs off 12 balls and then two off six before they scrambled the winning runs. Earlier Marcus Trescothick, who was named man-of-the-series, and England captain Nasser Hussain both made hundreds as England piled up 325 for five.
Trescothick made 109 and Hussain 115 - the England captain's first Limited Overs International hundred in his 72nd match. Their second wicket stand of 185 was a record England partnership for any wicket against India in a One-day International, surpassing the 176 shared by Dennis Amiss and Keith Fletcher for the second wicket at Lord's in 1975. Khan finished with creditable figures of three for 62. Virender Sehwag and Ganguly were not overawed at chasing 326. Ganguly's fifty came from 35 balls with his ninth four, off former Lancashire team-mate Andrew Flintoff.
Tudor ended Ganguly's assault, the India captain bowled for 60, his side 106 for one. And eight runs later India lost its second wicket when Sehwag (49) was bowled by left-arm spinner Ashley Giles. Dinesh Mongia (9) fell next well-caught by wicket-keeper Alec Stewart standing up to the stumps off Ronnie Irani.Then Rahul Dravid (5) chipped Irani straight to Nick Knight at midwicket. And when Giles bowled India hero Sachin Tendulkar for a mere 14, England looked on course for victory.