Andrew Strauss and Sachin Tendulkar both hit centuries as the Group B clash between England and India ended in a dramatic tie in Bangalore.
Chasing a massive 339 to win at the the M Chinnaswamy Stadium, Strauss appeared to be leading his side to a famous victory as he and Ian Bell (69) carried England to 281-2 at one stage of their reply.
However a collapse in the batting powerplay left the tail to try and finish the job - and they almost did just that in an enthralling climax.
Needing 28 from the final two overs, sixes from Graeme Swann, Tim Bresnan, who had earlier taken his maiden five-wicket haul in ODI cricket, and then Ajmal Shahzad meant England remained alive.
In the end it came down to requiring two runs off the last ball. Swann hit his cover drive sweetly off Munaf Patel, but he was unable to get the ball past the man inside the circle.
Instead, the scampered single meant the two teams had played out just the fourth tie in the history of the competition, as well as an illustration of just why there is still a place for 50-over cricket in the hectic international calendar.
In the aftermath England will wonder just how they threw away such a strong position, given to them by Strauss' career-best effort that included 18 fours and a six
The left-hander had put on 68 with opening partner Kevin Pietersen, who fell to a quite remarkable return catch by Munaf for 31, but it was his third-wicket alliance with Bell that tilted the balance firmly in his team's favour.
They appeared to be in complete command until gambling on the powerplay, something that proved more of a hindrance than a help. England lost four wickets for 25 runs during the five-over period, including the well-set Bell and Strauss in successive balls to Zaheer (3-64).
Strauss' efforts overshadowed those of Tendulkar earlier in the day, the Little Master having notched the 98th ton of his international career and his fifth in World Cups, a feat no other batsman has ever achieved.
James Anderson suffered the most, recording England's most expensive World Cup figures as his 9.5 overs saw him pick up one wicket at a cost of 91 runs.
He may have realised it wasn't going to be his day when he saw Virender Sehwag escape on no less than three occasions in the very first over. India's opener continued to ride his luck to reach 35 before an attempt to steer Bresnan down to third man resulted in an edge to wicketkeeper Matt Prior.
Nonetheless, Gautam Gambhir (51) came out at number three to put on a stand of 134 that laid the foundation for a second-half onslaught.
Tendulkar's century arrived with a flick down to fine leg for four during a batting powerplay that also saw his demise - Anderson doing well to fool him with a slower ball that was only spooned up to Michael Yardy at cover.
Despite the right-hander's departure, India were still able to continue the carnage thanks to Yuvraj Singh's half-century at faster than a-run-a-ball rate.
Skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni weighed in with a breezy 31 from 25, but Bresnan (5-48) finally gave England something to celebrate by mopping up the tail in a hectic final 10 overs that also saw 91 runs scored.
The Yorkshire seamer took three wickets in the space of four balls in the 49th over - the dangerous Yusuf Pathan (14), Virat Kohli (eight) went in successive deliveries before Harbhajan Singh was bowled without troubling the scorers.
However, the real drama came late in the day as England's topsy-turvy run-chase eventually saw them end up on level par. It was perhaps a fitting end to an absorbing encounter that leaves both teams plenty to ponder.