Generally lucky with the flip of the coin, MS Dhoni won the toss again and unhesitatingly chose to field. India made one change from the last match, bringing in Umesh Yadav to replace Dhawal Kulkarni. England made two changes with James Tredwell and Ben Stokes replacing Harry Gurney and Gary Ballance. England didn’t have a great start and they stuttered against spin in the middle overs. But Joe Root and Jos Buttler got into the act after England lost Eoin Morgan in the 29th over and their score stood at 117/4. Root and Buttler added 108 runs in less than 14 overs and with later order batsmen also chipping with useful scores, piled up 294/7 in 50 overs. It was not a great challenge but Indian batsmen began faltering from start and lost the match by 41 runs with a courageous late-innings charge from Ravindra Jadeja going in vain.
Alistair Cook and Alex Hales made a quiet start but in the 4th over, when Hales attempted to hoist Umesh Yadav over midwicket, he ended up getting a top edge to be caught by Ajinkya Rahane. Cook’s ploy of promoting Moeen Ali at No.3 didn’t work. Ali lasted only 8 balls; hit two fours in his 9 runs and needlessly chased a ball from Bhuvneshwar Kumar that might have been called a wide. The outside edge was gobbled up by Umesh Yadav at third man. At 39/2 in the 7th over, Joe Root joined Cook, who continued sluggishly at the other end. Even Root was slow at the start but the two batsmen carried the score to 91, when Cook perished while trying to sweep Suresh Raina and managing only a top edge to Dhoni. Eoin Morgan came next and added 26 with Root, before being stumped after missing a spinning ball from Ashwin. 117/4 in the 30th over did not look challenging because the England batsmen had gone about pretty slowly. Morgan had taken 34 balls for his 14 runs and earlier Cook consumed 64 balls for his 46. Even Joe Root had taken 59 balls for 40.
Then all of sudden, the complexion of the game underwent a rapid transformation. Root had a like-minded partner in Jos Buttler and the two set about blasting India’s bowlers. Buttler was on the attacking mode from start and Root soon joined the party. They added 108 for the fifth wicket in good time and took the score to 225, before Buttler was unfortunately run out. He attempted a reverse sweep to Jadeja and missed the ball completely. As an appeal for LBW was being denied, Buttler wandered blindly out of the crease. Dhoni saw this, quickly collected the ball and broke the stumps. After Buttler’s departure, Root too fell after making 113 off 108 balls with 10 fours and 3 sixes. With 5 overs left, Ben Stokes made a quick-fire 33 and took England’s score to 294/7. For the first time in the series, England avoided being all-out within 50 overs.
When India began, Ajinkya Rahane fell on the third ball of the innings to a lazy-looking jab on a wider ball from James Anderson and Eoin Morgan in the gully took an easy catch. Kohli has had a wretched tour and he didn’t do himself any credit by hanging his bat out to an off-side delivery from Anderson and ended up giving a catch to Cook. For the eighth time on the English tour, Anderson has claimed Kohli’s wicket. Dhawan was next to go in the 14th over as India tottered at 49/3. Suresh Raina and Ambati Rayudu tried to steady the boat but at 91, Raina top-edged a Moeen Ali delivery to Buttler. India were still far away from the target and most of their top batsmen had gone back to the pavilion. Dhoni and Rayudu added 41 for the fifth wicket but the required rate had gone up sharply. With Rayudu getting out as the fifth wicket, it was England’s game all the way. After making 29 off 42 balls, Dhoni also lost his wicket to an irresponsible stroke. Jadeja came to the crease and he valiantly and single-handedly tried to challenge England. But he lacked partners and the required rate had become too steep. Regardless, he scored 87 off 68 balls with 9 fours and 3 sixes, before falling as the last India wicket.
It was good for England to win the last ODI game after the series loss but they still need a thorough look-in about the constitution of their squad as the 2015 World Cup draws near. As far India, they won the series but that doesn’t hide the fact that they also need to sort out many of their problems.
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