England would have gone to the fourth ODI at Edgbaston with a resolve to resurrect themselves, following their loss of face in the second and third ODI games. They lost both matches without a fight after the first was washed out. England needed redemption to send a message to the cricketing fraternity that the two defeats were mere aberrations and the ODI outfit under Alistair Cook was capable of calling the shots. After all, England had a resounding success in the test series after the first two test matches, when Anderson his bowling partners held the Indian batsmen by the scruff of their necks. They instilled fear of the swing to extent that India’s batsmen began having doubts on their own capabilities. But such thoughts dissolved in thin air as England faced another disaster, even worse than the previous two ODI games. Tuesday’s shameful humiliation was the least expected outcome envisaged even by the most die-hard cricket enthusiast. In one of the most miraculous turnarounds in cricket history, England suffered their worst ODI loss in nearly three decades and lost an ODI series to an opponent, whom they had laid low in every department of test match cricket.
Fresh from their 2-0 lead in the ODI series, India were brimming with a new-found confidence on Tuesday as they arrived in Edgbaston. Dhoni won the toss again and asked England to bat first. Openers Alistair Cook and Alex Hales showed undue caution even against lose deliveries from Bhuvneshwar Kumar, who sent down two consecutive maidens. They only picked up debutant Dhawal Kulkarni to propel England. Kulkarni yielded 15 in his first two overs and at the end of 4 overs, England were 15/0. India achieved the breakthrough in the 5th over. It was the first ball of Kumar’s 3rd over that swung viciously into Hales from far on the off-side. Hales was caught with a sizeable gap between his bat and pad because he prefers to stand in front of leg stump. Before Hales could react, the ball had already shattered his off stump. In the same over, new man Gary Ballance played out Kumar’s second delivery and scored a single of the third. That brought Cook to face Kumar’s fourth ball. Cook tried to cut a wider ball but only found Suresh Raina’s safe pair of hands at gully for a neat low catch. 15/2 for England in less than 5 overs looked decisively ominous as Joe Root joined Ballance. While Dhoni persisted with Kumar, he brought Mohd. Shami to replace Dhawal Kulkarni for the sixth over. Shami yielded just one run in his first over and came back to bowl the 8th over of the innings. Ballance greeted Shami with an authentic and sweetly-timed boundary but on Shami’s last ball, angled into Ballance, the batsman tried a flick on the leg side and succeeded in merely getting a high flying leading edge to Rahane in the covers. Eoin Morgan joined Joe Root and the two brought relief to England from wretchedness. They didn’t score freely but still took the score to 103, before Morgan fell to Jadeja in the 29th over. He couldn’t read the turn and played straight to Suresh Raina in leg gully. Root, who was going well, fell to Raina in the 33rd over after making a belabored 81-ball 44 and England were tottering at 114/5. Although Moeen Ali’s arrival spruced things up for England, wickets kept falling at the other end. Like a lone star in English horizon, Ali kept playing freely and he was England’s top scorer with 67 off 50 balls with 4 fours and 3 sixes. For the third consecutive ODI, England lost all their 10 wickets before the 50th over as the innings folded at 206 after 49.3 overs.
207 was never going to be any big challenge for India after their good performance in the earlier two ODIs. Ajinkya Rahane and Shikhar Dhawan started cautiously and scored only 4 by the end of 4 overs. In the 5th over from Anderson, however, Rahane belted four boundaries and brought the score to 20/0. Runs began to flow afterwards as the batsmen gained confidence. At the end of 20 overs India had reached 116/0 and the victory didn’t look too far away. Rahane had already completed his 50 and Dhawan reached his in the 21st over by hitting a massive six off Anderson. After 25 overs, India had raced to 150/0 with Rahane 12 short of his maiden ODI hundred. He duly reached the coveted landmark with ease but perished soon to a rank poor shot. Kohli joined Dhawan at 183/1 as India needed 24 for the series win. Dhawan looked in hurry after being on the crease for more than two hours. In just 9 balls, he scored 28 runs and finished India’s win with a huge six over mid-on. For reasons of game’s technicalities, Dhawan couldn’t complete his century and remained not out for 97 off 81 balls.
From Edgbaston, the teams go to Headingley, Leeds. With ODI series already in their bag, India would like to consolidate and complete the sweep. As for England, they are left with the task of face-saving. Cook had redeemed himself after test series and the cricket press was going ga-ga over his fantastic achievement. But everything has gone into smoke in a very short time. Soon they will be asking for his head. With 2015 World Cup on the anvil, the England selectors already have a problem on the their hands. On the contrary, things have brightened for India and Ravi Shastri can’t stop smiling. To add color to India’s series win, they have regained the No.1 spot in the ODI rankings after Australia lost to Zimbabwe on Sunday.
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