Going into the 5th ODI, India's chances were none too bright and series defeat was starring at them. Their state of mind was best described by a cartoon in Deccan Chronicle (" Never mind, we have lost 3 consecutive matches, remember -we won the toss in all 3").
Dravid did not have the guts to drop Ganguly and went with 4 bowlers and adding Gambhir. Collingwood inserted them in and after 4 overs, the card read 7/0. Sachin, then uncorked 3 glorious cricketing shots off Jon Lewis and India were on their way, inspite of Ganguly's inability to rotate strike. Sachin batted quite well and his innings reminded of visions of last world cup and India were motoring on with Ganguly unable to do anything special or anything ordinary either. A typical over faced by Ganguly read like 004400 (21st over for example) and to an ordinary follower that will be perhaps a feast but out of the 2 4s, one will be an edge after a heave or be a predetermined shot and not a cricketing shot. Another over- this time the 24th, read like this 600000, with the six coming from another shot that was not that convincing to me. Ganguly was unable to rotate the strike and when he got out in the end, his 59 off 79 balls had as much as 49 dot balls.
Ganguly has been getting away with this kind of batting (that is totally not suitable to ODI innings) for years, with a few heaves here and there. If my memory serves me right, the last time he hit a match winning 100 - it was perhaps a decade ago in Asia cup. He has single handedly been spoiled the momentum so many times in the past and even after this match, he was talking to the interviewers about his consistent performance and that is the pits !! Agreed that he took 2 wickets (that were more due to Dhoni's efforts rather than anything special with the ball itself) and when you compare his innings Vs that of Collingwood's or even Sachin's, he definitely did not deserve the MOM and in my opinion does not deserve a spot in the ODI side (the catches he dropped were the usual dollies as well). How many more matches can he ruin?
Gambhir was struggling for the most part and was dropped twice but he somehow scratched around before getting out to his trade mark mode of dismissal - the pull shot, which does not cross midwicket boundary.Yuvaraj played another belligerent innings and the 300+ total became possible with little cameos in the end from Dravid and Dhoni (BTW,, I don't think Dhoni has hit a 6 this whole series). Dravid perhaps got wind of what I was advocating - promoting ZK and Zaheer's last ball 4 ended the innings in high note.
When India bowled, they grassed 2 in the first 10 minutes and I could see heads dropping. Somehow, the important breakthrough of sending back Pieterson was achieved and when Bell too got out, it was left to Colly, who almost pulled it off single handedly. Agarkar of all fielders, dropped John Lewis and another tight finish was coming up but he played one too many and Dhoni mopped his 6th victim. I felt that the D&L method definitely helped India (for a reduction of 5 overs, the deduction was a mere 14 off the chase). So, India lives to fight for another day. They go to London now and they have to win 2 out 2. Not easy, considering that the wickets will be hard (in Headingly like conditions, Indian bowlers perform but when the wickets are hard - they will have a tough time). Let us see..