Cricket: Rock-steady Sidhu shapes India's win: Smith dominates the spinners with commanding century but England's bowlers prove unable to clinch the one-day series

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England . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .256

India . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .257-7

India win by three wickets

ONE-DAY internationals do not always produce exciting fare, but with one of the world's better limited-over sides receiving a good chewing-over this was an exception. It was that rare treat, a Test match in miniature, with ascendancy tilting first one way and then the other, and some very good cricket, including two high- class innings.

The most heart-warming from an English point of view was Robin Smith's 129. Smith, opening the innings, timed the ball sweetly throughout and was as impressive against spinners as he has ever been for England.

But he admitted the best knock came from Navjot Sidhu, the Punjabi Sikh whose stunning 134 not out won the match. The last time Sidhu was here he was struck by a rock, but this time the 30,000 crowd merely heaped applause on his head. Not that target practice was abandoned. Alec Stewart was yesterday's victim, being hit by a stone on the back of the head. After his Bombay bombardment, he may soon start reconsidering his aversion to wicketkeeping.

Had the incident occurred when the score stood at 179 for 2, instead of 29 for 2, England might have headed for the dressing-room as threatened and incited a full-scale riot. But they stayed on and, with the police reluctantly watching the crowd rather than the cricket, peace reigned on the terraces.

Not so in the middle, where Sidhu was butchering the England attack in the best traditions of his warrior heritage. Sidhu's 175-run partnership with his captain, Mohammad Azharuddin, effectively sealed the match, bringing India back to 2-3 in the series and making today's game here the decider.

Gundappa Vishwanath, who with his brother-in-law, Sunil Gavaskar, had Mike Brearley on the run at The Oval in 1979, said: 'The way he paced his innings was outstanding.' As Vishwanath is now chairman of the selectors, Sidhu's place should be safe until at least next week.

Azharuddin rated it 'the best one-day innings I've seen by an Indian'. He began viewing it from 22 yards after Manoj Prabhakar received a shocking leg before decision and Vinod Kambli played an equally bad pull to leave India 4 for 2. They were soon scoring at five an over with Azharuddin merciless on anything short (and there was quite a bit) while Sidhu belied his six-hitting fame to stroke the ball around the wicket.

By the time Azharuddin hit Devon Malcolm to square-leg, Graham Gooch was mixing and matching his bowlers in search of the right combination. It proved to be Malcolm and Paul Jarvis and England flirted with victory, taking five wickets in six overs until Sidhu found a partner, in Anil Kumble, prepared to dance in time as the hosts quick-stepped to victory.

England, and Jarvis in particular, will reflect on the latest wrong note in Richard Blakey's out-of- tune tour. The unfortunate wicketkeeper replaced Mike Gatting, who had a stomach upset, only to drop Sidhu at 94 off the sort of chance he normally snaps up at Headingley. That followed a duck which gives him a tour record of seven runs in five England innings and leaves Michael Atherton wondering what he must do to get a game.

Keith Fletcher, the England team manager, said: 'We did consider bringing in Mike Atherton but he would have had to bat down at No 8 and we felt the right decision was to use Blakey as keeper. I know Atherton has got a reasonable record in one-day cricket but Dick Blakey has quite a good record as a one-day batsman as well.'

Atherton's misery was equalled by Ajay Sharma. Having spent seven weeks with the Indian team he finally got his chance and went for 18 in three overs. Then, in his first innings since an unbeaten 75 against England 50 days ago, he became unnerved by the absence of netting, left his crease and was run out by Chris Lewis from gully.

Just as rusty was Maninder Singh, whose bowling was so poor that England's protestations about him being the best spinner they have faced began to look like kidology. Smith, who could not hit spinners off the strip a month ago, tucked in, lifting him for three straight sixes. So composed was Smith that he chatted coolly through a drinks break when one run away from his first England century in four winter tours.

With Stewart, who was dropped twice at four and never found his rhythm, he added 101 for the first wicket and while he was batting with the effervescent Neil Fairbrother England were set for the total of 280-plus that was the minimum needed. But both fell slogging and in the face of impressively quick bowling from Javagal Srinath and Prabhakar, England went down with barely a whimper.

-------------------------------------------------------------------- GWALIOR SCOREBOARD -------------------------------------------------------------------- (India won toss) -------------------------------------------------------------------- ENGLAND -------------------------------------------------------------------- R A Smith lbw b Srinath . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 129 (195 min, 145 balls, 12 fours, 6 sixes) A J Stewart b Kumble . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 33 (96 min, 68 balls, 2 fours) G A Hick c More b Prabhakar . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .18 (31 min, 25 balls, 1 four) N H Fairbrother c Maninder Singh b Srinath. . . . . . . .37 (55 min, 39 balls, 3 fours) C C Lewis lbw b Prabhakar . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 (11 min, 9 balls) * G A Gooch run out . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 (7 min, 3 balls) D A Reeve run out . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3 (13 min, 6 balls) ] R J Blakey lbw b Srinath . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .0 (1 min, 1 ball) P A J DeFreitas not out. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .2 (8 min, 5 balls) P W Jarvis b Prabhakar . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .0 (1 min, 2 balls) D E Malcolm b Prabhakar. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .0 (1 min, 1 ball) Extras (b 1 lb 16 w 8 nb 4). . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 29 Total (215 min, 50 overs) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 256 -------------------------------------------------------------------- Fall: 1-101 (Stewart), 2-154 (Hick), 3-227 (Fairbrother), 4-246 (Smith), 5-246 (Lewis), 6-251 (Gooch), 7-251 (Blakey), 8-256 (Reeve), 9-256 (Jarvis), 10-256 (Malcolm).

Bowling: Kapil Dev 9-0-39-0 (nb 1, w 3) (7-0-17-0, 2-0-22-0); Prabhakar 10-0-54-4 (nb 3, w 2) (2-0-19-0, 3-0-13-1, 5-0-22-3); Srinath 10-0-41-3 (w 3) (5-0-19-0, 2-0-9-0, 3-0-13-3); Kumble 10-0-41-1 (7-0-26-1, 3-0-15-0); Maninder Singh 8- 0-46-0 (one spell); Sharma 3-0-18-0 (one spell).

Progress: 50: 53 min, 78 balls; 100: 93 min, 141 balls; 150: 123 min, 193 balls; 200: 167 min, 247 balls; 250: 202 min, 289 balls.

-------------------------------------------------------------------- INDIA -------------------------------------------------------------------- N S Sidhu not out . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 134 (218 min, 160 balls, 15 fours) M Prabhakar lbw b DeFreitas. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .0 (1 min, 1 ball) V C Kambli c Gooch b Malcolm . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .2 (7 min, 7 balls) * M Azharuddin c Stewart b Malcolm. . . . . . . . . . . .74 (120 min, 72 balls, 6 fours) S R Tendulkar b Jarvis . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .5 (7 min, 6 balls, 1 four) A K Sharma run out. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 0 (1 min, 1 ball) Kapil Dev c Hick b Jarvis. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .2 (14 min, 9 balls) ] K S More c Hick b Malcolm . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 (4 min, 3 balls) A Kumble not out. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .19 (52 min, 33 balls) Extras (b 2 lb 9 w 8 nb l) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20 Total (for 7, 218 min, 48 overs). . . . . . . . . . . . 257 -------------------------------------------------------------------- Fall: 1-1 (Prabhakar), 2-4 (Kambli), 3-179 (Azharuddin), 4-189 (Tendulkar), 5-190 (Sharma), 6-202 (Kapil Dev), 7-205 (More).

Did not bat: Maninder Singh, J Srinath.

Bowling: DeFreitas 10-0-52-1 (4-0-19-1, 3-0-18-9, 1-0-2-0, 2-0-13-0); Malcolm 10-0-40-3 (nb 3 w 4), (5-0-19-1, 5-0-21-2); Lewis 10-0-56-0 (4-0-17-0, 9-0-27-0, 3-0-12-0); Jarvis 10-0-43-2 (nb 1, w 3), (3-0-21-0, 7-0-22-2); Reeve 6-0-37-0 (w 1) (4-0-29-0, 1-0-7-0, 1-0-1-0); Hick 2-0-18-0 (one spell).

Progress: 50: 53 min, 71 balls; 100: 90 min, 120 balls; 150: 112 min, 153 balls; 200: 157 min, 212 balls; 250: 214 min, 385 balls.

Umpires: A V Jayaprakash and P D Reporter.

MAN OF THE MATCH: N S Sidhu.

(Photograph omitted)

Lathwell's century, page 32

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