Flintoff books place in World Cup
England are preparing to fly to Johannesburg on Sunday for the inaugural Twenty20 World Cup without their all-round inspiration Andrew Flintoff.
Clinical England won by seven wickets after bowling India out for just 187 and making their target with 13.3 overs left.
Kevin Pietersen stroked 71 not out and skipper Paul Collingwood an unbeaten 64 to cap a 4-3 series win.
Flintoff saw off India’s legendary duo Rahul Dravid and Sachin Tendulkar in his first spell and later Mahendra Singh Dhoni to finish with 3-45 from 8.3 overs.
Dimitri Mascarenhas – called into the Twenty20 squad to replace Ryan Sidebottom last night – shared the honours with 3-23 from his ten overs while ever-improving James Anderson claimed two wickets.
Flintoff, bowling with the help of a pain-killing injection, fled to the dressing room for 20 minutes after his first five-over spell, supposedly to re-adjust his ankle strapping.
But it was then announced that he will fly out tonight with the rest of the squad, though he will continue to be monitored.
Anderson made the initial breakthrough yesterday after India won the toss and batted.
He had Sourav Ganguly caught for 15 before Gautam Gambhir was brilliantly caught by Luke Wright low down at square leg for 12.
That was 52-2 and it soon became 59-4 after two controversial Flintoff wickets. Dravid was judged to have got an inside edge to the keeper and his disapproving glance at umpire Aleem Dar was beaten by the glare from Tendulkar, who was so angry he failed to acknowledge a standing ovation.
The record-breaking maestro has not officially said this will be his last tour of England but the safe bet is that he won’t be returning with India not due here again until 2011.
He pushed forward at a ball from Flintoff and missed but Dar upheld England’s appeal, not realising that any noise was caused by Tendulkar’s bat brushing his pad.
The rest of the batting failed to offer much resistance and the nagging line and length of Mascarenhas strangled the run-rate.
Dhoni’s 50 off 72 balls prevented an embarrassingly low total.
England lost openers Matt Prior and Wright, promoted in place of Alastair Cook, for ducks but Pietersen’s well-paced effort saw them home.
He needed it following a patchy run of form and after running out player of the series Ian Bell for 36.
Man of the match Pietersen declared “the sky is the limit” for England’s one-day side.
He said: “It means a heck of a lot to me. This is the first one-day series I’ve won with England.
“I was really disappointed and down in the dumps after losing the last game but I’m a very happy man now.
“I look forward to South Africa. It’s a great country and with the team we’ve got it could be a great tournament for us.
“To score as many runs as we have done in this series and bowl India out on a pretty good Lord’s pitch, the sky is the limit.”
Captain Paul Collingwood said: “When you have Freddie coming on first change it puts them under the pump. He makes a big difference.
“I’m sure he’s a little bit sore.
“We now go away and a few decisions will need to be made but we’ll see.”