Cricket: Fairbrother's thrash sets up last-ball win: England squeeze past India after Kambli and Tendulkar's stirring stand is nullified by Prabhakar's moment of madness

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India. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .223-3

England. . . . . . . . . . . . . .224-6

England win by four wickets

AT the end of an England victory that was an even tighter squeeze than you get on the average Indian bus, it was not difficult to see why the one-day international has taken over from Test cricket as the major form of entertainment on the sub-continent.

There were almost as many people locked out of the ground as were crammed inside it, and the trees overlooking the northern end contained roughly six spectators to the branch. There will doubtless be a few more added to the list who would like to see the Indian captain dangling from a tree, but it could scarcely have been closer than a scampered leg-bye off the last ball.

Apart from actually winning the game, England's biggest bonus was in getting themselves into such a hopeless position in chasing 224 to win from 48 overs that it turned out to be a key factor in transforming Neil Fairbrother from someone who could barely propel the ball off the square into the match-winning one-day batsman that helped earn him a place ahead of a certain Hampshire left-hander who is far more likely to win a Test match.

Alec Stewart (perhaps, with the future captaincy in mind, responding to the ample sight of Mike Gatting coming up fast in the rear- view mirror) played beautifully for his 91, but with Graham Gooch and Robin Smith both out of touch yesterday, Fairbrother arrived at the fall of Stewart's wicket with 80 runs still needed from the final 11 overs.

Had it been a slightly more straightforward task, Fairbrother may have had time to reflect on how badly out of nick he was, but when there is nothing left for it but to thrash it around, Fairbrother is the closest thing to Allan Lamb that England have in this type of cricket.

His unbeaten 46 off 40 deliveries contained barely a single orthodox stroke, and only John Emburey, whose knack of hitting the ball in the opposite direction to the one he is aiming is more by accident than design, is more difficult to set a field for.

With 19 still needed off 12 balls, Fairbrother swung Kapil Dev for two fours to take 13 of them off the penultimate over, and even though Manoj Prabhakar got every one of the last six deliveries on the fullest of lengths, he probably cost India at least a tie with a piece of cricket that was more blockhead than blockhole.

With three runs needed off two balls, Fairbrother called for a bye to the wicketkeeper when Chris Lewis swung and missed, which then turned into a comfortable two when Prabhakar collected the return and hurled the ball for a mindless overthrow past the bowler's stumps. Lewis then got his pad to the final delivery, and as he is almost as fast between the wickets as Fairbrother, England were home.

Ironically, the best batting of the match came from two Indian batsmen, Vinod Kambli and, in particular, Sachin Tendulkar. They also came together when things were looking bleak for their team, but a breathtaking assault in the final overs eventually gave India a total that was just about par for the conditions.

In India, the ball tends to arrive on the bat in the same state as most travellers in this part of the world, knackered and late, but this pitch was bouncy enough to allow relatively uninhibited strokeplay, and Gooch's main reason for inserting the opposition was the 9am start.

It was a bit like one of those NatWest Cup final mornings, hazy and dewy, and with the eighth ball of the innings, and Paul Jarvis' second, Emburey's personal tormentor Navjot Sidhu was bowled off his pads to leave the home side 0 for 1. Of the 10 hugs that came Jarvis's way, Emburey's was by some distance the warmest.

Mohammad Azharuddin was badly out of touch, and when Kambli and Tendulkar came together India were 58 for 3 with almost half their overs gone. Twenty-nine overs later they had put on an unbroken 165, which is 499 less than they once compiled in tandem as schoolboys in Bombay.

They still look young enough for their partnerships to be more in danger of being broken by their mothers calling them in for tea, but they bat with a maturity far beyond a combined age only two years older than the England captain.

Kambli, in fact, celebrated his 21st birthday yesterday by scoring 100 not out off 149 balls, although he was dropped at slip off Jarvis by Hick, of all people, when only eight. While Kambli is essentially a one-day player, England's opinion of him as not much more than a slogger is not quite reflected in the statistics. In Lucknow, Kambli was only dispatched via injury, and he has now made 161 against the tourists without being out.

The class act yesterday, however, was Tendulkar, who made 82 from 81 balls, and he and Kambli carried on where Sidhu left off in draining what little confidence Emburey has left. The England off-spinner failed to complete his quota, and Kambli ensured that he maintained his 100 per cent record of being hit for six in every outing on tour so far.

Tendulkar's genius was encapsulated in a flat on-driven six off Phillip DeFreitas, and given that yesterday's crowd went potty every time India ran a leg-bye, Tendulkar rendered them close to demented with an innings that, even in the smash and carve world of one-day cricket, touched sublimity.

In the end, though, it was not enough, as indeed was the case with England's overs. They finished two short of their 50 in the three and a half hours allocated, which is as close to pathetic as makes no difference. They face a fine of around pounds 75 per man, which sounds small beer until you realise that the Indian prize- money here would barely restring one of Ivan Lendl's rackets. If England win all six one-dayers and all three Tests, they will each be off to the bank with, wait for it, pounds 331 worth of swag.

The sixth one-day international between India and England has been rescheduled for the central town of Gwalior on 5 March. The match is being held to compensate for the opening one-day international that was supposed to have been played in Ahmadabad on Saturday, but was cancelled because of rioting in the western city.

JAIPUR SCOREBOARD

England won toss INDIA M Prabhakar b Jarvis . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .25 (43 min, 29 balls, 4 fours) N S Sidhu b Jarvis . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 0 (6 min, 2 balls) V G Kambli not out . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 100 (202 min, 149 balls, 9 fours, 1 six) *M Azharuddin lbw b Lewis . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6 (48 min, 28 balls) S R Tendulkar not out . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 82 (116 min, 81 balls, 6 fours, 1 six) Extras (b2 lb7 w1) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .10 Total (for 3) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .223

Fall: 1-0 (Sidhu), 2-31 (Prabhakar), 3-59 (Azharuddin).

Did not bat: P K Amre, Kapil Dev, V Yadav, A R Kumble, Venkatapathy Raju, J Srinath.

Bowling: DeFreitas 9-3-40-0 w1 (5-3-11-0, 5-0- 12-0, 1-0-17-0); Jarvis 10-0-49-2 (6-0-25-2, 2-0- 9-0, 2-0-15-0); Reeve 10-0-37-0 (5-0-14-0, 4-0- 14-0, 1-0-9-0); Lewis 9-0-26-1 (6-0-14-1, 2-0-9-0, 1-0-3-0); Emburey 8-0-49-0 nb1 (6-0-31-0, 2-0- 18-0); Gooch 2-0-13-0 (one spell).

Progress: 50: 84 min, 102 balls. 100: 127 min, 170 balls. 150: 172 min, 234 balls. 200: 196 min, 269 balls.

ENGLAND *G A Gooch lbw b Kapil Dev . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 (43 min, 25 balls) A J Stewart c Yadav b Kapil Dev. . . . . . . . . . . . .91 (146 min, 126 balls, 6 fours, 2 sixes) R A Smith c and b Prabhakar. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .16 (58 min, 39 balls) M W Gatting b Kumble. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30 (56 min, 39 balls, 2 fours) N H Fairbrother not out . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 46 (56 min, 38 balls, 5 fours, 1 six) G A Hick run out (Raju-Yadav). . . . . . . . . . . . . .13 (23 min, 14 balls, 1 four) D A Reeve lbw b Prabhakar . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .2 (2 min, 3 balls) C C Lewis not out . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8 (13 min, 7 balls) Extras (b1 lb8 w3 nb2). . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14 Total (for 6) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .224

Fall: 1-29 (Gooch), 2-85 (Smith), 3-145 (Stewart), 4-161 (Gatting), 5-200 (Hick), 6-203 (Reeve).

Did not bat: P A J DeFreitas, J E Emburey, P W Jarvis.

Bowling: Kapil Dev 10-1-36-2 w2 (6-1-10-1, 2-0-11-1, 2- 0-15-0); Prabhakar 10-0-43-2 nb2 (5-0-17-0, 2-0-11-1, 3-0-15-1); Srinath 10-0-47-0 nb1 w1 (6-0-21-0, 2-0-10- 0, 2-0-16-0); Venkatapathy Raju 8-1-35-0 (7-1-26-0, 1-0-9-0); Kumble 10-0-54-1 (one spell).

Progress: 50: 78 min, 113 balls. 100: 115 min, 177 balls. 150: 154 min, 232 balls. 200: 184 min, 270 balls.

Umpires: S Venkataraghavan, S K Bansal.

ENGLAND WIN BY FOUR WICKETS

Man of the match: V G Kambli

(Photograph omitted)

Ambrose seals victory, page 28

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