Agencies, Dharamsala India paid the price for some poor shot selection by their top order batsmen as England rode on Ian Bell’s unbeaten century to salvage some pride by winning the fifth and final one-dayer by seven wickets and reduce the margin of defeat to 3-2 here today.
The visitors first dismissed the hosts for a modest 226 and then relied on Bell’s third ODI ton — 113 not out — to overhaul the target with 16 balls to spare at the picturesque HPCA stadium which hosted its first international match. The Indians, who had already clinched the series in Mohali by taking an unassailable 3-1 lead, were done in by some poor shots by their top oder batsmen and could never really recover from the early jolts despite Suresh Raina’s brilliant effort of 83 under pressure.
Tim Bresnan caused the bulk of the damage with 4/45 while Steve Finn and James Tredwell chipped in with two wickets apiece as the English bowlers exploited the bowler-friendly conditions after winning the toss and putting the home side into bat. The Indians slumped to a precarious 79 for five as Gautam Gambhir (24), Rohit Sharma (4), Virat Kohli (0), Yuvraj Singh (0) and captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni (15) perished in quick succession with some of them playing atrocious shots.
Raina’s brilliant counter-attacking 83 off 98 balls and and some useful contributions from Ravindra Jadeja (39) and Bhuvneshwar Kumar (31) took India to 226. In their bid to chase down the target of 227, England openers Alastair Cook and Ian Bell started confidently putting in 53 runs before Ishant Sharma, who bowled an incisive first spell, broke the partnership. Since his comeback into the Indian ODI team, this is by far Ishant’s best performance as he found the length from his very first delivery which came in after pitching and umpire Sudhir Asnani failed to detect the faint edge off Cook’s bat. The England captain was batting on 13 but he could add only nine runs to get to 22 before another delivery cut back sharply to knock the middle-stump back. Ishant’s brilliant first spell figures read 5-3-9-1 and but Shami Ahmed and Bhuvneshwar Kumar leaked a few boundaries.
The Bengal speedster showed a lot of heart by inducing the dangerous Kevin Pietersen to go for a pull shot. The batsman top-edged it and Ravindra Jadeja, running from long leg towards square leg, took a well-judged catch. Bell, by far England’s most consistent ODI player in recent times, carried on with minimum fuss, punishing the bowlers for loose balls and also guiding the talented Joe Root as the duo cruised along in their 79-run third wicket stand. Root was finally dismissed when Jadeja produced a classical left-arm spinner’s delivery as he beat the batsman in flight and the ball turned a shade after pitching to clip the off-bail. Root made 31 off 49 balls. Bell reached the 90s with a reverse sweep off Ravichandran Ashwin, who was trying too many variations without much success. He reached a well deserved century by clipping Ishant to mid-wicket fence. Bell was joined by another seasoned pro in Eoin Morgan who hit Ashwin for a huge six followed by even bigger sixes off Shami Ahmed’s bowling as they closed the match with consummate ease. Earlier, a swashbuckling knock by Suresh Raina helped India reach a decent a total of 226 in 49.4 overs after they were pegged back at 79 for five at one stage.
Raina, who scored 83 off 98 balls, added 78 runs for the sixth wicket with Jadeja, to help Indian total gain a semblance of respectability. Jadeja’s contribution was 39 off 65 balls with a boundary and two sixes. Bhuvneshwar Kumar also did his bit by playing a little cameo of 31 runs that helped India cross the 225-run mark which had looked improbable after the first 15 overs. But, it was Raina whose innings ensured that the likes of Bhuvneshwar and Shami Ahmed have a total to bowl at. En route his fourth successive half-century in the series, the left-hander from Uttar Pradesh made a strong case for himself being promoted up the order ahead of Yuvraj Singh whose form has been scratchy of late. Raina, who was dropped twice on individual scores of five and 61, hit eight boundaries and two huge sixes.
He incidentally also completed 4000 ODI runs in his 159th match. Save those couple of blemishes, it was a treat to watch his strokeplay as the ball raced past the lightning quick outfield. The two sixes, one each of Tredwell and Root, was hit straight into the sightscreen. The standout shot certainly was an inside-out shot over extra cover off Root’s bowling which brought up his 50. Tim Bresnan was the pick of bowlers with figures of four for 45 while their premier fast bowler Steven Finn was miserly giving away 28 runs in 10 overs getting a couple of wickets in the process.
England innings: Alastair Cook (c), b I Sharma 22, Ian Bell not out 113, Kevin Pietersen c R Jadeja b S Ahmed 6, Joe Root b R Jadeja 31, Eoin Morgan not out 40. Extras: 15. Total: 227. Bowling: Bhuvneshwar Kumar 9-1-45-0, Shami Ahmed 9-1-46-1, Ishant Sharma 10 3 37 1, Ravichandran Ashwin 10-0-50-0, Yuvraj Singh 2-0-15-0, Ravindra Jadeja 7.2-0-26-1.
India innings: Gautam Gambhir c Bell b Tredwell 24, Rohit Sharma c Tredwell b Bresnan 4, Virat Kohli c Tredwell b Bresnan 0, Yuvraj Singh c Morgan b Finn 0, Suresh Raina c Bell b Woakes 83, Mahendra Singh Dhoni lbw b Finn 15, Ravindra Jadeja c Bell b Tredwell 39, Ravichandran Ashwin c Finn b Patel 19, Bhuvneshwar Kumar c Finn b Bresnan 31, Shami Ahmed c and b Bresnan 1, Ishant Sharma not out 0. Extras: (lb 4, w 7) 11. Total: (all out in 49.4 overs) 226. Bowling: Steve Finn 10-2-28-2, Tim Bresnan 9.4-1-45-4, Chris Woakes 9-1-45-1, James Tredwell 10-1-25-2, Joe Root 5-0-34-0, Samit Patel 6-0-46-1.