No redemption for India; memorable debut by Bairstow
An agonising tour wound to a close without any redemption for the Indian team. England reigned supreme in the fifth and final match of the NatWest Series at the Sophia Gardens here on Friday night. The host won by six wickets and the triumph helped England blank India 3-0 in the series.
Losses may have plagued the Indian team right through the four Tests, solitary Twenty20 game and two ODIs while a tie at Lord's offered little consolation but India hinted at a last-match hurray after scoring 304 for six in 50 overs. Virat Kohli (107) and Rahul Dravid (69) combined well, M.S. Dhoni (50 n.o.) flourished in the slog and later the rain forced two revisions in the target.
England was staring at an asking rate that kept mounting from the starting 6.1 to 6.27 and finally to 7.08 as two rain-interruptions meant that the target was adjusted to 295 from 47 overs and the eventual 241 from 34 overs as per the Duckworth-Lewis Method. The home team found the men to make rapid runs amidst mounting tension and the brightest spark was Jonathan Bairstow.
The debutant presented a dashing picture on the big stage and his rousing unbeaten 41 (21b, 1x4, 3x6) helped England finish with 241 for four in 32.2 overs.
Interestingly Bairstow received his England cap from Geoffrey Boycott ahead of the game and unlike the legend from his county Yorkshire, known for obduracy and solidity, the first-timer in international cricket played with flair to surprise and shock India.
England lost Craig Kieswetter early as he flicked fours off his toes and then missed one that Vinay Kumar angled in to rap the pad. Immediately skipper Alastair Cook (50, 54b, 5x4) and Jonathan Trott (63, 60b, 3x4) continued the chase without fuss. Trott lofted Munaf Patel straight past the sightscreen. The seamer then watched Parthiv Patel pouch Trott off a no-ball and exult rather than throw for a run-out and much later Munaf slipped in the outfield and the resultant injury completed India's agony.
Cook and Trott raised 79 runs for the second wicket before Kohli broke the partnership. Cook, dropped by Dravid, took a mighty heave against Kohli's next delivery and lost his timber. England stayed alive through Trott and Ian Bell. The duo bludgeoned meaty blows especially in a Ravindra Jadeja over that cost 21 runs. India briefly winged back into the game when R.P. Singh and Jadeja triggered fatal shots from Bell and Trott.
At 166 for four, England needed a cameo and Bairstow produced an innings that was lit up by clean hits down the ground. Jadeja was hoisted and reverse-swept, Vinay was clattered and taking a clue, Bairstow's senior partner Ravi Bopara, also switched gears. Bopara flicked a six and four over fine-leg while R.P. Singh struggled.
Dhoni juggled around Vinay, R.P. Singh and Kohli during the critical batting Power Play (overs 29 to 31) and watched Bairstow and Bopara plunder 42 runs. The match was sealed then and gradually the creased foreheads in the England dressing room eased while Indian shoulders slumped.
Soon it was time to shake hands and while England exulted, Dravid, playing his last ODI, was given the honour to lead the Indian team back to the dressing room.
A glorious limited-over career had wound to a close and amidst the sorrow of defeat and a farewell, Dhoni's ‘Man-of-the-Series' award was the lone bright spot for India.
Considering that the ‘Men in Blue' also lost their last two ODIs in the West Indies, India has found its aura of being the World Cup champion being diminished while key players recover from a wide range of injuries.
Injuries continued to haunt the Indian team even on the last day of its England tour.
Munaf Patel, who fell while fielding in the deep during the ODI match at the Sophia Gardens on Friday, suffered an ankle injury and is likely to be out of action for a few weeks.
India: 304 for six in 50 overs.
England: A. Cook b Kohli 50 (54b, 5x4), C. Kieswetter lbw b Vinay 21 (17b, 4x4), J. Trott c R.P. Singh b Jadeja 63 (60b, 3x4, 2x6), I. Bell c (sub) Tiwary b R.P. Singh 26 (21b, 2x6), R. Bopara (not out) 37 (22b, 3x4, 1x6), J. Bairstow (not out) 41 (21b, 1x4, 3x6); Extras (lb-1, w-1, nb-1): 3; Total (for four wkts. in 32.2 overs): 241.
Power Plays: One (Overs 1-8): 44/1; Bowling (9-11): 21/0; Batting (29-31): 42/0.
Fall of wickets: 1-27 (Kieswetter), 2-106 (Cook), 3-160 (Bell), 4-166 (Trott).
India bowling: Vinay Kumar 6.2-0-42-1, R.P. Singh 7-0-51-1, Munaf 4-0-26-0, Ashwin 4-0-25-0, Jadeja 5-0-52-1, Kohli 6-0-44-1.
Keywords: NatWest Series