Knight's day as England set target

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The Independent Online

Nick Knight ended his long wait for another England century today as he helped guide the tourists to a competitive total against India in the fifth one-day international at the Feroz Shah Kotla Stadium.

The Warwickshire left–hander hit a superbly–paced 105 from 126 balls as England reached 271 for five in their 50 overs after India captain Sourav Ganguly had surprisingly decided to bowl on a pitch which was expected to be the best batting surface in the six–match series.

It was Knight's fourth one–day international century but his first since he scored 122 against West Indies in Barbados nearly four years and 53 innings ago. It included seven boundaries.

His performance helped carefully guide England through after their scoring rate dropped in mid–innings, threatening to undermine their hopes of a total likely to test India's formidable batting line–up.

But once captain Nasser Hussain was dismissed for 49, having scratched around for 24 overs, Knight teamed up with Andrew Flintoff to add 80 in the next 10 overs.

Their partnership transformed England's innings and helped towards adding 107 off the final 15 overs as they attempt to keep the series alive after falling 3–1 behind with their eight–wicket defeat in Kanpur.

Knight had once again played understudy to Marcus Trescothick's aggressive approach at the start of the innings, as the Somerset left–hander raced to 36 from 40 deliveries.

But Trescothick tried one positive shot too many and drove Ajit Agarkar straight to Sarandeep Singh at mid–off to end his productive innings, forcing Knight and Hussain to play more cautiously as they tried to avoid one of the collapses which have undermined England's previous performances in the series.

They did that. But the scoring rate dropped, and by the time Hussain edged Sachin Tendulkar behind to wicketkeeper Ajay Ratra they had taken 24 overs to add 117.

Hussain's departure brought Flintoff, attempting to make his first real impact on the series, to the crease – and he responded quickly by driving Tendulkar to the cover boundary to get off the mark.

Flintoff then hit a four and a six off successive balls of Tendulkar's next over en route to his half–century off only 36 deliveries – but just as England were preparing to launch a final onslaught India bounced back by claiming a rush of late wickets.

Knight's fine innings came to a halt after a mix–up with Flintoff which resulted in both batsmen being at the same end – and the big Lancastrian fell two overs later, holing out off the bowling of Javagal Srinath to long–off.

Graham Thorpe fell in the next over, bowled by a brilliant out–swinging yorker from Agarkar – and although England would be able to defend their biggest total of the series there was still the Tendulkar factor to consider once India began their reply.

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