Hope gives to despair as defiant England chase Indian target

Sunday, February 27, 2011

BANGALORE - Thousands of frenzied fans rooting for India were turning from hope to despair late Sunday, as a defiant England chased the 339-run target set by the hosts in the high-octane World Cup match at the Chinnaswamy stadium in the heart of this tech hub.

Disappointed swept the stadium, as the Indian bowlers failed to contain the English top order after an initial breakthrough when pacer Munaf Patel sent the dangerous Kevin Pieterson back to the pavilion caught and bowled with the score at 68.

With England skipper and opener Andrew Strauss going strong after posting an impressive century and Ian Bell surviving a leg before appeal off left-arm spinner Yuvaraj Singh to involve over a century partnership for the third wicket, the blowing of trumpets and bugles stopped and an eerie atmosphere descended in the floodlit venue.

The waving of Indian flags, placards and cheers that rocked the jam-packed stadium when batting maestro Sachin Tendulkar scored his record fifth World Cup century and Gautham Gambhir and Yuvaraj hit brisk fifties was missing.

“It’s going to be heart-breaking if India are to lose this much hyped match against England. Though I thought a score of 338 was defendable, it doesn’t look like, as Strauss is unstoppable and the twin Indian lead spinners Harbajhan Singh and Piyush Chawla failed to deliver,” Kalyan Mohan, a techie in a multinational firm, bemoaned in the eastern stand.

With England at 272 for 2 in 40 overs, shocked fans were seen deserting the stadium in droves, as hopes of India beating England in the remaining 10 overs were dashed.

About 2,000 policemen, however, maintained vigil in and around the stadium to prevent any untoward incident in the event of India losing the match.

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