THE RECORD BOOKS will show that England and India drew their record-breaking 676 run rollercoaster as one of the most thrilling World Cup matches in the history of cricket ended in a last ball drama.

But the nerve-shredding final twist left Andrew Strauss’s men feeling like the victors of a match they deserved to win.

Even listening on the radio you could smell the Indians’ fear of defeat when the final ball was bowled in front of a stunned home crowd at Bangalore, with England needing two runs to snatch victory from a position that looked impossible with a handful of overs remaining.

It was a griping match both sides thought they were certain to win at various stages of a contest of the highest quality.

The co-hosts set an intimidating 339-run victory target after a superb 120 from Sachin Tendulkar. But Strauss (158) and Ian Bell (69) put England in command with a 170-run third-wicket stand before Zaheer Khan dismissed both batsmen in successive balls.

England fell one run short of a victory that did not seem possible after needing 14 from the final over and 29 from the last 12 balls, having earlier faced a much easier equation of 67 from the last 60.

It was never a game for the faint-hearted and the  Indian fans who left the stadium early thinking their team was doomed three-quarters of the way through will kick themselves forever after missing a truly classic finale.

First India, then England looked to have  this Group B encounter in the bag  in a power struggle which showcased what some regard as the outdated 50-over version of the game.

This was an absorbing match with just as much high-octane excitement as anything served up by cricket’s brash Twenty20 format.

In the end, England’s tail-ender Graeme Swann was left with the task of hitting at least two runs off the final delivery from paceman Munaf Patel. But Patel cannily pitched the ball full and Swann could only jam it down to mid-off for a single –  leaving England tied with India on 338 with two wickets remaining.

“In some ways we’re happy and in some ways we’re distraught…. but in some ways we’re privileged to play in a game like that,” said England skipper Andrew Strauss.

Indian captain  Mahendra Singh Dhoni concluded: “Both teams will be a bit disappointed but they will be relieved to take one point.”

The winner was the game of cricket and an enthralled worldwide audience on the day the 2011 World Cup truly came alive

BY JOHN GUBBA

 

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