India pulled off a 2-1 series victory after a seven-run win in the final ODI against England despite a late scare sparked by a brilliant Sam Curran 95*.
England asked India to bat first for the third consecutive time, with the hosts posting 329 thanks to half-centuries from Shikhar Dhawan, Hardik Pandya, and Rishabh Pant. Then, early breakthroughs from Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Shardul Thakur helped India to a commanding position, only for Curran to wrestle the visitors back into contention.
It came down to the last over, in which England needed 14 runs for victory. T Natarajan sent in a few yorkers and gave away just six runs, as India emerged winners, despite a poor day in the field.
India win!— ICC (@ICC) March 28, 2021
Natarajan gives away just six runs in the final over, giving his team a seven-run victory.
It means India take the ODI series 2-1! 🏆 pic.twitter.com/Au4lyUs2EM
In the morning, India got off to a flier thanks to Dhawan’s 18th ODI fifty – a 56-ball 67. Along with the solid support of Rohit Sharma (37), Dhawan helped India put on 103 for the opening wicket. The foundations were laid for a tall total.
However, the introduction of Adil Rashid changed the course of the innings. Rashid delivered a double blow as he first went through the gates of Rohit, and then took a return catch from Dhawan to claim quick wickets.
Moeen Ali then claimed the all-important scalp of India captain Virat Kohli, turning one in sharply to clatter his leg stump. When KL Rahul, India's centurion in the second ODI, fell tamely to Liam Livingstone, India were in trouble at 157/4.
It was then that Hardik Pandya and Pant combined to revive the innings. The duo stitched together a counter-attacking fifth-wicket partnership worth 99 runs, bringing India right back into the game. Pant raced to a second consecutive half-century, ending up with a 62-ball 78 – a vital knock laced with five fours and four sixes – before falling to Curran.
Despite that, Hardik looked to carry on, but having reached 64 off just 44 balls, he stepped across a step too far and had his leg stump knocked over by Ben Stokes.
Krunal Pandya (25) and Shardul Thakur (30) attempted to add the finishing touches, but a lower-order slide – four wickets were lost for seven runs – meant India were all out in 48.2 overs.
England looked to begin their chase in a typically aggressive manner, with Jason Roy tonking Bhuvneshwar for three fours in his first five deliveries. However, the sixth was an inswinger, and Roy's stumps were knocked over for 14.
Bhuvneshwar then snared the in-form Johnny Bairstow shortly thereafter, and despite a brief partnership between Ben Stokes and Dawid Malan, Natarajan took the prized wicket of the former for 35. With Jos Buttler, captain for the day, managing just 15 before Thakur had him dismissed, England were in all sorts of trouble at 95/4.
Liam Livingstone and Malan scripted a 60-run partnership for the fifth wicket to keep England alive. They couldn't convert their starts, with Thakur taking a return catch off Livingstone (36) and Malan (50) failing to go beyond his maiden ODI half-century, becoming Thakur's third wicket.
Moeen Ali managed just 29 before being dismissed, but just as India thought it was nearly in the bag, Curran intevrvened. He added 57 runs for the eighth wicket with Rashid and then kept resisting with Mark Wood at the other end. He did have some fortune go his way, Hardik Pandya dropping him when he was on 22.
His 60-run partnership with Wood took England to within 14 runs of victory ahead of the final over. However, Natarajan rose to the occasion, giving away just six runs in the final over, expertly deploying the yorker. Wood's unfortunate run-out helped matters as well, as India closed out victory by seven runs.
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