India wraps up series with commanding nine-wicket win; Dhoni becomes winningest Indian ODI skipper
An elegant, maiden century from Ajinkya Rahane (106 off 100) and an unbeaten 81-ball 97 from Shikhar Dhawan helped India crush England in the fourth One-Day International in Birmingham on Tuesday (September 2) and grab a winning 3-0 lead in the five-match series.
A combined bowling effort helped India bowl England out for just 206 despite Moeen Ali’s fluent 67, before the batsmen completed the comprehensive nine-wicket victory with nearly 20 overs to spare.
The win, sealed with a six by Dhawan over long-on, took MS Dhoni past Mohammad Azharuddin (90 wins) as India’s most successful ODI captain.
Facing a modest chase for 207, Rahane and Dhawan started cautiously. India scored only four runs in the first four overs, but Rahane launched an attack on James Anderson in the fifth over to set the tone for the chase. He hit four boundaries – a whip, a couple of flicks and a gorgeous offdrive – in the over to shift gears effortlessly, and never looked back. When England bowled full, he drove effortlessly through the offside or flicked through mid-wicket, and when they bowled short, he cut and pulled with disdain.
The ease with which Rahane batted rubbed off on Dhawan, who has had a forgettable tour. He looked scratchy initially but grew in confidence with time in the middle. Runs came quickly from both ends, and Dhawan smashed three fours in the 10thover off Chris Woakes to bring up India’s first 50-run opening stand of the tour.
At one end, Rahane was playing a classy knock, driving, flicking and sweeping with ease. He even charged down the track to the pacers, smashing Anderson and Steven Finn for sixes. England tried to disrupt India’s rhythm by bringing on Ali in the 12thover, but Rahane ensured that the spinner didn’t settle down. He brought up his half-century by sweeping Ali for six over deep mid-wicket, and wasn’t afraid to use his feet to go over the bowler as well.
At the other end was Dhawan, battling away at the start. Once he settled in, he took the bowling apart. Dhawan brought up his first half-century of the tour with an authoritative six off Anderson over long-on, and then went into overdrive.
Rahane reached his century with a couple to fine-leg but fell almost immediately when he chipped a full toss from Harry Gurney to cover. When he left, he had put on 183 for the first wicket with Dhawan - the highest opening partnership for India against England in England. Dhawan did not have enough runs left to get to a century himself, but didn't take much time to complete the formalities.
The commanding victory was delivered by the batsmen but set up by the bowlers. Mohammed Shami (3-28), Bhuvneshwar Kumar (2-14) and Ravindra Jadeja (2-40) were the multiple wicket-takers as England was bowled out for a below-par total.
The host had made three changes, getting in Ali, Gary Ballance and Gurney for James Tredwell, Ian Bell and Ben Stokes. India made one change, Dhawal Kulknarni making his ODI debut in place of the injured Mohit Sharma.
Opting to field on what Dhoni called a ‘sticky’ wicket, India made the perfect start through its pacers. Bhuvneshwar started with two consecutive maiden overs to Alastair Cook, and then dismissed both openers in his third over to leave England on 16 for 2 in the fifth over. Shami soon followed it up with the wicket of Balance to leave England tottering at 23 for 3, but an 80-run stand between Joe Root and Eoin Morgan prevented a top-order collapse.
The duo took England past the 100 run mark in the 28th over, but both fell to spin in quick succession. With two new batsmen – Jos Buttler and Moeen – in the middle, and the score 123 for 5 in 35 overs, there was a real chance of England succumbing to a paltry total. However, Ali launched a counterattack to add some valuable runs down the order.
He set the tone by smashing Kulkarni over extra cover for a boundary off the first ball of the Power Play, and never looked back. He used his feet well against the spinners and smashed R Ashwin for two sixes, including a clean strike over the sightscreen. England lost Buttler leg before but added 41 runs in the Power Play.
Ali got to his second ODI fifty off just 37 balls with a six off Suresh Raina in the 43rd over, but fell soon after trying to charge Ashwin in pursuit of more quick runs. India wasted no time in cleaning up the tail, and though Ali gave England’s score some respectability it was not enough against an Indian side high on confidence.