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Worst Dar comes true

London, Sept. 8: India’s 1983 World Cup glory at Lord’s nearly a quarter of a century ago was, alas, not repeated at Lord’s today, when England easily won the one day decider by seven wickets.

Not to put too fine a point on it, it looked more like men against boys.

India’s excessively modest total of 187 was effortlessly overtaken by England, thanks to an unbroken partnership of 114 from a characteristically belligerent Kevin Pietersen and skipper Paul Collingwood who remained unbeaten on 71 and 64, respectively.

In the end what was expected to be “a fight to the death” turned out to be so one sided an encounter that it was droves of England fans who streamed out of the ground well before the match had finished.

England won the NatWest series 4-3. India promised much but ultimately did not deliver. However, the Indian fielders were magnanimous in defeat, patting and shaking hands with Pietersen and Collingwood as their England tour concluded on a sorrowful note.

Sachin Tendulkar’s dismissal to a highly questionable caught at the wicket decision by the normally reliable umpire Aleem Dar was “the turning point of match,” protested sisters Natasha and Minoo Bhatia, both dressed in vivid saffron and making their first public outing since their father passed away three weeks ago in London. They were part of the pretty Indian girl invasion today at “the home of cricket”.

Umpire errors have been far too common during India’s England tour this summer but the sisters were expressing a sentiment that appeared to be common among the Indians who made up between a fifth and a quarter of the full house at Lord’s for today’s decider in the England-India one day series.

Natasha, a financial consultant who had bought the tickets as a birthday present to cheer up her younger sister, said: “We are very disappointed.” Minoo, a documentary film producer, looked equally crestfallen. “Tendulkar’s dismissal changed the shape of the game,” she claimed.

She brightened up for a moment. “We love Dhoni, he is gutsy player when his back is to the wall. I am secretly married to Dhoni,” she murmured wistfully.

With four wickets gone for 59 and then five for 106, there were early indications that this might not prove to be India’s day. A couple of boundaries by Sourav Ganguly, at the ground where he made his debut Test century in 1996, flattered to deceive.

A long shot of Sourav after he was out, thoughtfully chewing his nails in the dressing room balcony, showed him at his most philosophical.

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