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India end losing streak with 23-run victory
- Sourav leads from the front with solid 90 - Harbhajan, Nehra scalp three wickets each

London: Lordís once again provided the inspiration for the Indian team who ended their five-match losing streak with a thrilling 23-run victory over England in the third and final NatWest Challenge one-day International here on Sunday.

After being bundled out for a modest 204, Sourav Gangulyís men rediscovered their familiar nerve in the face of adversity to snuff England out for 181 in 48.2 overs for a morale boosting win.

Young wicketkeeper Dinesh Karthik lost and reinvented his fledgling career in the same day as he dropped Michael Vaughan on 36 and then produced an out of the world stumping to dismiss the England captain in the nerve-wrecking closing stages.

Vaughanís piece de resistance, 74 off 141 balls with eight fours and a 92-run seventh-wicket partnership with Ashley Giles (39), looked set to lead England to a white-wash of the Indians but Team India struck back.

The English batting that had given the Indian bowling a hiding in the previous two games floundered against some inspired seam bowling and the mesmerising off-spin of Harbhajan Singh.

The Turbanator finished with three for 28 while Ashish Nehra scalped three for 26.

The Indians, reeling under a string of losses beginning with the defeat to Pakistan in a Super League match of the Asia Cup in July, rung in changes and shuffled their batting order.

Earlier, a captainís knock by Sourav Ganguly failed to inspire India to a formidable total after the batsmen faltered once again. Sourav hit an authoritative 90, studded with three sixes and five fours.

Sourav and vice-captain Rahul Dravid, who overcame his scratchy form and hit a 91-ball 52, were the only batsmen to reach double digit scores.

Steve Harmison picked four for 22 and Darren Gough claimed his 200th wicket in one-day Internationals when he had Harbhajan caught by Michael Vaughan in the 45th over.

Dravid was relieved of the wicketkeeping duties and the 19-year old Karthik was handed his maiden India cap.

Virender Sehwag was pushed down to No. 4 and VVS laxman moved up to open the innings but the two, put together, could only make 10 runs.

Lakshmipathy Balaji, Ajit Agarkar and Rohan Gavaskar made way for Ashish Nehra, Anil Kumble and Karthik.

Mohammed Kaif also batted at an unusual position, No. 3, but made no contribution worth mentioning.

For Laxman, it was a forgettable outing. For once the stylish openerís bat didnít make a sweet sound from the 27 balls he faced for his nine runs before a Harmison yorker pegged back his off-stump.

The horrors of running between the wicket cost India another wicket when Sourav pushed a delivery to mid wicket and took off with Kaif rooted to his spot. By the time Kaif (2) responded it was too late.

Sehwag flicked his first delivery from Ashley Giles for a single and then patted a return catch with an absolute inept stroke to leave India floundering at 48 for 3.

India then had its most profitable partnership of the innings when between the captain and the vice-captain, 93 runs were raised from 135 balls.

Sourav, after a watchful start, batted beautifully and a century was there for the asking before his penchant for pull shot once again ended in catch at short mid-wicket.

Sourav pulled Harmisonís first delivery in his recalled spell into the hands of Vaughan to bring curtains on an entertaining innings.

Sourav played several pleasing strokes, none better than a lofted four over extra cover and then a straight six off Paul Collingwood which cost the seamer 13 runs from the over.

After Souravís exit, Dravid tried to take command and reached his half-century from 85 balls with three fours but struggled for support from the other end.

Yuvraj (9) flicked Alex Wharf into the hands of deep square leg and young Karthik made only one from 12 balls before edging Harmison behind the stumps. Harbhajanís straight bat couldnít cover the swing in Goughís delivery and an easy catch went to point. (PTI)

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