England kept their one-day series alive today by mounting a remarkable comeback to claim a two-run victory in difficult circumstances at the Feroz Shah Kotla Stadium.
Trailing 3–1 in the six–match series having been crushed by eight wickets in the previous game in Kanpur, England knew anything less than victory would render the final match in Mumbai irrelevant on Sunday.
Having set a competitive target of 271 for five, India were on course for another comfortable victory after captain Sourav Ganguly and newcomer Mohammad Kaif forged a 111–run partnership off as many balls to take them within 61 runs of victory with 10 overs remaining.
But a career–best performance of five for 57, after he had conceded 32 from his first four overs, from Ashley Giles turned the match in England's favour and despite Ajit Agarkar hitting 36 from 24 balls, India fell just short of England's total.
England's success, though, was marred by a worrying breach of security mid–way through the India reply when Andrew Flintoff reported being hit by a pellet while fielding on the mid–wicket boundary.
Michael Vaughan reported a similar experience and play was halted for several minutes while the umpires informed match referee Denis Lindsay, who will make a report of the incident which could result in disciplinary action against the Indian authorities.
After a more relaxed security presence on this leg of the tour after the security concerns for the Test tour prior to Christmas, it will cause great anxiety that the incident happened.
And Marcus Trescothick twice had a plastic bottle thrown at him while attempting to prevent a four – each time the bottle narrowly missing him.
Even that, though, is unlikely to upset England's celebrations at claiming their second victory of the series when it seemed India were on course to claim another convincing victory.
With 10 overs remaining and captain Ganguly unbeaten on 74 having taken a particular liking to Giles' left–arm spin, India needed only to score at a run–a–ball to secure their third successive win.
But Giles responded to his earlier punishment to have Ganguly caught at long on and claimed five wickets in as many overs and finish with career best figures.
England's innings was built around a superb 105 from Nick Knight, his first one–day international century in nearly four years and 53 innings, and a blistering 52 from only 39 balls from Andrew Flintoff.
They teamed up after Nasser Hussain had slowed down the scoring rate, taking 71 balls to hit 49, to leave England in danger of failing to set a competitive total on arguably the best batting surface of the series.
Flintoff, though, ignited their momentum again and added 80 with Knight in only 10 overs, only for India to hit back with three wickets in three overs towards the end of the innings and restrict England to 23 runs from the final five overs.Reuse content