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No light at end of tunnel for England

Last updated on: November 20, 2008 17:41 IST

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India overcame a wobbly start and some anxious moments before beating England by 16 runs via the Duckworth-Lewis method in the third One-Day International, to take a comfortable 3-0 lead in the seven-match series, in Kanpur, on Thursday.

Chasing 241 for victory, the hosts were less dominating but conscious of the Duckworth-Lewis requirement as they scored 198 for 5 in 40 overs before fading light forced an early end to the game.

India, needing a score of 183 for 5 in 40 overs under the D/L method, were well past the mark and thus declared the winners.

For the hosts, Virender Sehwag top-scored with 68, while Yuvraj Singh scored a brisk 38 off just 31 balls. Captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni, who remained unbeaten on 29, then steered the team to victory at the Green Park stadium.

After early morning haze delayed the start of the match, and reduced it to a 49-overs-a-side affair, England captain Kevin Pietersen won the toss and had little hesitation in opting to bat first.

India now needs to win the next match in Bangalore on Sunday to clinch the series by taking an unassailable 4-0 lead.

Earlier, England could not make the most of their best start in the series and were shot out for 240 in 48.4 overs.

A rejigged batting order saw Ravi Bopara (60) walk out to open with Ian Bell (46), and the openers put on 79 runs before England lost the plot.

For India, Harbhajan Singh scalped three for 31 in his 10 overs, joining the 200 ODI wicket club in the process.

It may not have been a flying start for the visitors but once the openers saw through claustrophobic opening spells by Zaheer Khan and Munaf Patel, things looked quiet easy for them.

They remained cautious in the early phase when there was some juice in the wicket and sniffed an opportunity to free their arms when Ishant Sharma came as the first change bowler.

Bell greeted Ishant with two boundaries in the first over, upsetting the lanky pacer's rhythm by repeatedly stepping out of the crease.

Bell was not quite convincing when he nicked Ishant through the vacant slips but made amends with a fierce cut that raced to the boundary.

With Bell on song, Bopara chimed in, proving the perfect foil for his partner. Bopara, who got off the mark with a flicked four off Zaheer, inside-edged the pacer for another four before driving Ishant through covers for the same result.

The run-rate was nothing to shout about but England crossed the 50-mark in 11 overs without any loss. This was a marked improvement, considering the fact that their opening stands had yielded 12 and six runs in the last two matches.

Bell fell four runs short of a half-century he so thoroughly deserved, nicking an angling Munaf delivery to perish caught behind after a 47-ball 46 which had eight fours in it. It was double trouble for the visitors as Pietersen's (13) unbridled aggression did him in.

Having hoicked Yuvraj Singh over long on for a six in the previous over, Pietersen wanted an encore of the shot against Harbhajan but could only loft it straight to Zaheer at long-off.

The dismissal only whetted Harbhajan's appetite and the off-spinner foxed Paul Collingwood (1) with a doosra, luring him out of the crease and Dhoni did a smart job behind the stumps.

From 79 for no loss, England suddenly slumped to 106 for three.

In his next over, Harbhajan almost caught Flintoff off his own bowling but the ball fell little short.

India tasted another success soon and this time Yuvraj had Bopara stumped.

Bopara's patient 82-ball 60 included eight hits to the fence. England needed a big score from Andrew Flintoff (26) and he got the start as well but Yusuf Pathan trapped him with his second ball.

Owais Shah (40) added 36 runs with Samit Patel (29) before holing out in the deep, giving Harbhajan his 200th ODI wicket.

In an eventful over, in which Ishant followed two successive no-balls with a wide delivery that raced down the boundary, the Delhi pacer removed Patel and Matt Prior (5) off successive deliveries before sending down yet another wide.

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