Zaheer Khan's brilliance with the ball helped India snatch a point from England after a pathetic display from Indian bowlers and fielders led to team's failure in defending a mammoth target of 338 as the Group B match ended in a tie at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium here on Sunday.
England skipper Andrew Strauss was the hero of the visitors' innings with a captain's knock of 158 off 145 balls, which set the tone of England's chase.
Strauss and makeshift England opener Kevin Pietersen came out with an aggressive intent to kick off England innings after their bowlers were hammered by Indian batsmen led by Sachin Tendulkar's 47th ODI century.
But a rollicking start by England openers was halted by Munaf Patel, who pulled out a stunning reflex catch off his own bowling to send back Pietersen (31).
However, Strauss went from strength to strength and remained uninhibited in his strokeplay to bring up his half century in company with Jonathan Trott, who could only muster 16 runs and fell lbw to Piyush Chawla.
MS Dhoni decided to use Chawla and Harbhajan Singh in tandem inside the bowling powerplay but the spin twins failed to make an impression on the proceedings as Strauss and Bell continued to get a boundary an over to keep England in the hunt.
Strauss brought up a stroke-filled century off just 99 balls to surprise India as England looked set to challenge the gigantic target.
But right when the 170-run stand looked to take the match away from India, Strauss chose to take the batting powerplay in which India took four wickets for just 25 runs.
That proved to be the turning point of the match as Zaheer Khan bowled a magnificent spell to dismiss 'Man of the Match' Strauss, Bell (69) and Paul Collingwood (1).
Wickets continued to tumble until Tim Bresnan (14) hit Chawla for two sixes to bring the match in balance; however, Chawla bowled him out in the same over.
Needing 14 runs off the last Munaf Patel over, Ajmal Shahzad hit a six out of nowhere to stun the crowd into silence. Two runs were needed from the last ball, off which Swann could hit only one run, which ended the match in a tie.
However, India's performance in the field and bowlers' failure to defend such a big total put serious question marks over India's 'favourites' tag in this World Cup. Even Zaheer Khan, who was the most successful Indian bowler with four wickets, went for 64 runs.
Munaf Patel and Piyush Chawla took two wickets each but gave away 70 and 71 runs respectively.
In the field, beside a number of slip-ups, Harbhajan dropped a half chance to dismiss Strauss early in his innings and Virat Kohli dropped Bell in the slips. Harbhajan returned with one wicket for 58 runs.
Earlier, Sachin Tendulkar scored his 47th ODI century to propel India to 338 all out against England who had to rely on Tim Bresnan's 5/48 to pull things back in the last 10 overs.
Tendulkar reached the century, his 98th in international cricket, in 103 balls as the legend, playing his last World Cup, went after the England bowlers.
He partnered with Gutam Gambhir to hammer England in a second-wicket partnership of 146 runs, which was dominated by Tendulkar's fireworks.
In the afternoon, Indian skipper MS Dhoni won the toss and elected to bat first. After surviving an early scare, followed by some spanking shots, Virender Sehwag (35) edged one to Matt Prior off the bowling of Bresnan.
Sehwag's intent to spank England bowlers from the word go almost led to his wicket in the first over of the innings itself as he edged James Anderson thrice but the ball fell short of diving fielders. However, he survived the close shaves and settled in with Sachin Tendulkar to give India a start.
Tendulkar led from the front and brought up his half century with a six off Paul Collingwood during the big partnership with Gambhir to put India on course for a huge total. The partnership ended with Gambhir's departure for 51 against the run of play when Graeme Swann bowled him.
Andrew Strauss heaved a sigh of relief to see the back of Tendulkar but the wicket came too late in the day as the Indian master had hammered 120 off 115 balls before being dismissed by James Anderson.
Yuvraj Singh (58) and MS Dhoni (31) took England bowlers on after Sachin Tendulkar's departure. Yuvraj resembled his fluent self in the half-century knock but just when he looked to take the game away from England, the visitors pulled things back by removing him and Dhoni in successive balls.
That led to a flurry of wickets, mainly due to Bresnan who pegged Indian back with his five-wicket haul. But James Anderson earned the unfortunate recognition of becoming the most expensive English bowler in World Cup history by virtue of his spell of 1/91 in 9.5 overs.
Both India and England play their next match against Ireland. While England will meet the Irish team on March 2, India face them on March 6.