Rayudu builds on good work by spinners to give visitors unassailable lead with two matches to play
An all-round, dominant effort in the third match in Nottingham gave India a 2-0 lead in the five-match One-Day International series against England on Saturday (August 30). Led by the spinners, India bowled England out for 227 off the final ball of the first innings, before the batsmen completed a comfortable six-wicket victory at Trent Bridge, with Ambati Rayudu steering the chase with an unbeaten 64.
Alex Hales and Alastair Cook had given England a good start after it had been put in to bat in overcast and windy conditions, sharing an 82-run stand for the opening wicket. However, England couldn’t capitalise on the start, as India's spinners accounted for six of the wickets, with R Ashwin returning 3 for 39. The pitch wasn’t expected to assist the tweakers too much at the beginning of the innings, but as the game progressed, it started taking turn. That suited Mahendra Singh Dhoni's plans, and he rotated his bowlers well, to take advantage of the conditions on offer.
Jos Buttler, who scored a fighting 42, and James Tredwell, whose late 18-ball 30 boosted the score, were England's only significant contributors among the later batsmen, ensuring the bowlers would have a moderately substantial total to defend.
Facing a modest chase, India's batsmen, apart from Shikhar Dhawan who fell to Chris Woakes for 16, all had good hits, and each of them were involved in valuable partnerships too. Ajinkya Rahane, promoted to open the batting in the absence of the injured Rohit Sharma, was in fine nick while Virat Kohli showed some semblance of form with a 50-ball 40. However, it was Rayudu and Suresh Raina who were most impressive, their 87-run association helping complete the chase with 42 balls to spare.
India started well, with Rahane calm and composed as he flicked, pulled and drove to the ball to the fence. Runs came quickly, and despite the early loss of Dhawan, he kept going. Rahane's fluency aided Kohli, giving him time to settle in. Kohli worked himself in, playing the occasional drives and flicks, although there was a huge six straight off Tredwell.
They had added 50 for the second wicket and seemed quite comfortable, before England found a breakthrough. Finn upped the aggression against Rahane, with a couple of short-pitched deliveries, before sending in a length ball. Rahane tried to poke it through to third man, but could only edge it to the wicketkeeper. It was Finn’s first international wicket in nearly a year, his last coming against Australia in September 2013.
With Rayudu taking the crease, the run-rate slowed a bit, with the batsmen intent on consolidation first. With singles and twos, Kohli and Rayudu added 35 for the third wicket, Kohli taking charge and playing his shots when given the chance. A crisp cover drive took him to 40, but just when he looked set for the long haul, Stokes dismissed him with a slower ball.
India was 121 for 3 when Suresh Raina, the centurion during the victory in Cardiff, walked in. With plenty of deliveries to spare, Raina and Rayudu avoided anything too risky, but crucially kept the scoreboard ticking by rotating strike. When the target was in sight, the two accelerated – Raina picked two boundaries off Woakes, and Rayudu replied with two off Finn. Rayudu soon completed his third ODI half-century, but the stand was broken shortly thereafter, Raina holing out to Tredwell for a run-a-ball 42. That was only a minor blemish though, as Ravindra Jadeja walked in to help see the chase through.
Earlier, the England batsmen couldn't successfully negotiate the turning ball to be bowled out for below-par total, despite the fine start Cook and Hales had provided. The openers took a couple of overs to settle in, but once they did, the runs came at an easy clip. Hales looked good striking the ball on the up and through the V. He hit back-to-back fours off Mohit Sharma, relieving some pressure off an edgy Cook, who took time to get going.
England was on the ascendancy as it crossed 50, and the run-rate was picking up every over. Mohit walked off with an ankle injury to compound India’s woes, and they needed a wicket. Almost on cue, Raina’s off-spin provided the breakthrough. Hales attempted to sweep a looping delivery, but only managed to top-edge the ball, which Dhoni caught to break the opening stand.
The Indian captain then threw the ball to Rayudu, and a second wicket followed. Cook stepped out of his crease but missed the ball completely as Rayudu drifted down leg, allowing Dhoni to clip the bails. England was 93 for 2.
What followed was all too similar to Cardiff. Joe Root was deceived by Jadeja, and Dhoni displayed just how alert he was as he grasped the ball and clipped the bails in a flash. Eoin Morgan made 10 before feathering Ashwin to Jadeja. England lost its fifth wicket when Ian Bell (28) was run out after Mohit, having returned to the field, effected an excellent direct hit from the deep. Raina then plucked out a one-handed screamer at first slip, giving Ashwin the wicket of Stokes.
England found itself 149 for 6, but Woakes and Buttler provided much-needed resistance as they ground out 33 runs for the seventh wicket, before Woakes sent Shami’s short ball straight down the throat of deep square leg to become the first wicket that fell to a paceman on the day. Buttler then lost his wicket to Ashwin while looking to accelerate with three overs remaining.
Tredwell slogged some much-needed runs for England, with consecutive fours of Shami and a heaved six off Bhuvneshwar in the final over before holing out. However, that wasn't enough against an Indian side that paced its chase perfectly.