After boycotting their opening group fixture with Zimbabwe due to security concerns, it was always going to be a tough ask for England to qualify for the latter stages of the 2003 Cricket World Cup, but after successive victories against Netherlands, Namibia and Pakistan, the team were on a high ahead of their showdown with India in Durban.
As for India, they had also opened with three wins from four, and when the two sides took to the field at the Kingsmead Cricket Ground on this day 12 years ago, there was a feeling that whoever prevailed would have one foot in the Super Sixes.
After winning the toss, India set about posting an imposing total that would leave their opponents facing an uphill task chasing under the lights. The opening overs were somewhat edgy but once Virender Sehwag and Sachin Tendulkar found their groove, their side found themselves scoring at a run a ball.
However, with the penultimate delivery before the first 10 overs were completed, Andrew Flintoff broke through to remove Sehwag who edged the ball back into the hands of the all-rounder. England had gotten themselves into the match, but despite the departure of his teammate, Tendulkar continued to flourish, bringing up a masterful fifty in as many balls to ensure that his team continued to score at six runs per over.
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In the 16th over though, Flintoff struck again to remove the 'Little Master', who could only find Paul Collingwood with the second ball after drinks. It was a vital wicket for England and while wickets didn't tumble at regular intervals, they pegged India back to 155-4 with 14 overs remaining as the medium pace of Collingwood and Ronnie Irani proved difficult to get away to the boundary.
The combination of Rahul Dravid and Yuvraj Singh remained at the crease though and between them, they contributed 104 runs off 110 deliveries to take the score to 250-7 off their allotted overs. Flintoff was the pick of the bowlers, registering superb figures of 2-15 off 10 overs, but Andrew Caddick, James Anderson and Craig White were expensive and they left their team chasing a challenging target.
It was imperative that Marcus Trescothick and Nick Knight got England off to a solid start, but within seven balls, Knight was making his return to the changing rooms after being superbly run out by Mohammad Kaif. That wicket immediately put England onto the back foot, and after making just eight runs off 23 balls, Trescothick followed Knight after pulling to Tendulkar.
Michael Vaughan and Nasser Hussain were left with the task of upping the run-rate as well as remaining at the crease, but neither was accomplished and after they required over 90 balls to reach fifty, England lost two wickets in as many deliveries as Ashish Nehra dismissed Hussain for 15 before Alec Stewart followed for a golden duck as the Indian seamer collected two of his six wickets.
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Vaughan soon followed for 18 to leave the England top order decimated, and with the score on 62-5 off 19 overs, they needed a miracle. Collingwood offered brief resistance before getting out for 18, which left Flintoff as England's only hope of pulling off what would be considered a remarkable comeback.
The Lancashire man mixed a calculated knock with the aggression that was necessary to give England a glimmer of a chance, but after White and Irani went with the score on 107-8, he was always facing a losing battle after his teammates fell before and around him.
After an innings of 64 that included five fours and three maximums, Flintoff was dismissed by Javagal Srinath, and three overs later, India's emphatic 82-run victory was completed when Anderson was trapped in front of his stumps by Zaheer Khan.
As expected, the result would prove pivotal for both teams' ambitions for the tournament, and after losing to Australia in their final group contest, England suffered another early elimination from the competition.
England XI: Marcus Trescothick, Nick Knight, Michael Vaughan, Nasser Hussain, Paul Collingwood, Alec Stewart, Andrew Flintoff, Craig White, Ronnie Irani, Andrew Caddick, James Anderson
India XI: Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag, Saurav Ganguly, Rahul Dravid, Yuvraj Singh, Mohammad Kaif, Dinesh Mongia, Harbhajan Singh, Javagal Srinath, Zaheer Khan, Ashish Nehra