The familiar Indian batting collapse was in full display yet again. They could barely surpass 200 after a reasonably good start. The later order batsmen committed hara-kiri, when they should have kept the innings together. After the 83-run opening stand, the best partnership was delivered by Mohammad Shami and Mohit Sharma, who provided a saving grace with a 35-run tenth wicket stand. It was pitiful to see India remaining winless in the 6-match double round-robin tri-series. It is another matter that their opponents on Friday also made a heavy weather of a small victory target but they engineered a great turnaround after losing 5 wickets for 66 to finally emerge victorious. The final will be played on Sunday on the same WACA ground at Perth.
England won the toss at Perth and asked India to bat. Shikhar Dhawan and Ajinkya Rahane were able to put on 83 for the first wicket. On paper, it might look like a good beginning but anyone, who watched the match in the initial overs saw the openers survive somehow. They played risky aerial shots, avoided run-outs and tried to cut away-swing deliveries. There was no confidence in their batting what if they put on a good-looking stand. Shikhar Dhawan finally fell edging to the keeper in the 21st over. Chris Woakes knew Dhawan’s weakness, so he tossed one wide on the off-side and without moving his feet Dhawan swung at it and got that fateful nick. It was now time for India to build up the innings. That didn’t happen as Virat Kohli, after laboring for 18 balls for his 8 runs, charged out to loft Moeen Ali over the top. The power was missing from the stroke as the ball couldn’t clear the long-off fence and Joe Root judged a good running catch. The 103/2 for India at this stage soon became 136/5 in less than nine overs. No.4 batsman Suresh Raina came out of the crease to lift Moeen Ali just as Kohli had done earlier and only managed an edge to the backward point for the easiest of catches. Rayudu was next and he couldn’t avoid the temptation of chasing an off-side delivery from Stuart Broad that took the edge of his bat. Then the well-set Rahane tried to emulate Rayudu to glide another off-side ball to third-man and edged it to the keeper. Only the bowler was different, Steven Finn. Captain Dhoni and Stuart Binny added 16 runs for the sixth wicket but the batting slide continued. Binny also fell to the edge off an outside-off ball from Finn with Ian Bell bringing off a marvelous one-handed catch in the slips. India lost Dhoni and Jadeja at the same score of 164 and Akshar Patel at 165. With nine wickets gone, the end was imminent with just two tail-enders left. But Shami’s pyrotechnics with good support from Mohit Sharma took the score past 200. The tenth wicket stand of 35 was very creditable after established batsmen fell like nine-pins earlier.
England had an easy 201-run target as openers Ian Bell and Moeen Ali walked out. But in the 4th over of innings, Bell found himself plumb in front as a delivery from Mohit Sharma failed to bounce to Bell’s expectation and hit him low on the pads. At 14/1, James Taylor joined Moeen Ali. After the two batsmen added 26 runs for the second wicket by 13th over, Moeen Ali tried to loft Akshar Patel but holed out to long-off in the manner of Virat Kohli in India’s innings. England were now 40/2 and four runs later, Stuart Binny Struck with a catch of his bowling as Joe Root drove uppishly. Soon it was 52/4 as Binny took another wicket to get rid of Eoin Morgan. James Taylor was watching the drama from the other end with 17 off 46 balls. Then Binny had Ravi Bopara as well to make it 66/5. It was already 20 overs and India looked like coming back in the game even after a woeful batting performance. But as the overs passed, James Taylor and Jos Buttler refused another wicket to India. With Buttler leading the charge, England staged an impressive turnaround with a 125-run partnership between Taylor and Buttler in 23.2 overs. Earlier India missed a chance to run Buttler out, when he had scored only 3 but Rahane’s direct throw missed the stumps. But Buttler stayed and England won despite the two batsmen falling near the victory target. The winning run had come from a Jadeja No-ball but Woakes got a single as well.
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