By Harry Kemble, in Mohali
Wednesday, January 23, 2013
England’s long wait for an ODI series victory in India continues as match winning knocks from Rohit Sharma and Suresh Raina gave their side victory by five wickets and an unassailable lead of 3-1 in the series.
First Sharma scored 83 before Raina hit 89 – an innings that was not without controversy – to ensure their their side reached England’s total of 257-7 comfortably.
England’s total was thanks to solid half-centuries from Alastair Cook (76) and Kevin Pietersen (76) and an innovative 57 off 45 balls from Joe Root.
But it was not enough to trouble MS Dhoni’s and company as poor bowling again, namely from Dernbach, and a call of dead-ball when Finn had Raina caught at slip with India still 80 victory, probably cost England victory.
With their selection England replaced Craig Kieswetter with county teammate Jos Buttler in a bid to add some impetus to their batting.
England were asked to bat and they started purposefully moving to 37.
However, Ian Bell’s charge down the wicket scuppered his chances of a decent score when he was caught at third man off Ishant Sharma for ten.
Cook and Pietersen saw their side past fifty but progress was slow with the latter taking an uncharacteristic 12 balls to get off the mark.
Cook brought up his second half-century of the series off 74 balls.
Once again England’s captain was chipping in when his side needed him most but once more poor umpiring would haunt the tourists after decision to give Pietersen out in Ranchi.
Cook was out leg-before for 76 to a Ravichandran Ashwin delivery that pitched comfortably outside leg.
England’s did not look so sturdy 13 balls later when Eoin Morgan skied his drive to Yuvraj Singh running back at mid-on to leave them 138 for three off 34 overs.
Then Samit Patel was caught and bowled off Ravi Jadeja as England lost three wickets for ten runs, leaving them 142 for four with just over thirteen overs left.
However, Pietersen hit his 24th ODI fifty off 84 balls – his slowest in this form of cricket but invaluable nonetheless before he was yorked by Sharma for 76.
Pietersen and partner Root smashed 76 off 56 balls in a crucial partnership.
The 22-year-old carried on gallantly despite losing Buttler and Bresnan in successive deliveries to record his maiden ODI fifty off 43 balls as England scored 100 off the last ten overs to hit 257 off their 50.
England opened the bowling with Tim Bresnan, giving the expensive Jade Dernbach a breather from the duty.
It was decision that was vindicated when Gautam Gambhir nicked through to Buttler for 10.
Pietersen then dropped a tough chance diving backwards that could have had India reeling two down for 23.
England were not helped by their fielding again with Virat Kohli top-edging a pull that landed in between Buttler and Bresnan. A lack of communication had cost the tourists on this occasion.
Cook brought on James Tredwell who almost immediately had Kohli caught and bowled for 26.
The wily spinner has been a revelation on tour and he duly took his tenth wicket of the series when he trapped Yuvraj Singh in front for three.
Thanks to spinners Tredwell and Root India needed over a run-a-ball at 106-3 halfway through the innings.
But while Sharma was there India were still on course to win – with expert finisher Dhoni to come.
Sharma hit his 13th ODI fifty with Raina at the other end taking the attack to Tredwell to knock him off his metronomic line and length – a tactic that was working.
India moved to within a hundred runs of England’s 257, Cook brought on Finn again.
And with the first ball of his second spell England had Sharma out leg-before for 83 off 93 balls.
Finn turned from hero to villain when Raina, on 41, nicked to slip, but was reprieved by umpire Steve Davis calling dead-ball.
The decision was made at the start of the series to call dead-ball if the stumps were broken on delivery stride without giving a warning beforehand. Legislation that both team captains were made aware of.
Not long afterwards Raina hit his seventh boundary to score his 27th ODI fifty, putting the game further out of England’s reach.
Dernbach gave his side hope when Dhoni cut a long-hop down Morgan’s throat for 19 but with Surrey quick’s figures reading eight overs for 52, England once again could hardly complain as India eased to their target.