If Rohit Sharma’s 83 pushed England to the brink of a series defeat, Raina’s 89 knocked the visiting side over.

In a contest that never rose to any memorable heights, India brought down a fighting England for a hat-trick of victories built largely on an all-round team effort dotted with individual brilliance.

After letting England escape from 157 for four in 40 overs to a healthy-looking 257 for seven in its allotted overs, India covered the distance riding on three half-century stands, with five wickets and 15 deliveries to spare.

The triumph gave India a winning 3-1 lead and reduced the fifth match at Dharamshala on January 27 to academic interest.

In conditions conducive to seam bowling, if England’s innings was built largely on scores of 76 by skipper Alastair Cook and Kevin Pietersen followed by a maiden ODI half-century, a 57, from Joseph Root, India’s chase, too, and its heroes at the PCA Stadium here.

Rohit, opening for India precisely two years after he was last seen in the role against host South Africa, set up the chase. Opening the innings only for the fourth time in 87 outings, the Mumbai batsman played an innings similar to Cook’s.

Known to get far more chances than what a player with a history of failures usually deserves, Rohit rode his luck and made this knock count. With a sequence of scores that read, 5, 0, 0, 4, 4, 4, in the last six innings, Rohit was fortunate to be considered ahead of his Mumbai teammate Ajinkya Rahane for the match.

He was understandably jittery early in the innings and lucky on 12, when an acrobatic Pietersen failed to latch on to a tough offering at mid-off. Slowly he grew in confidence and played some delightful strokes.

Gambhir, unlucky to be given caught behind by Steve Davis, and Kohli promised more than they delivered. Just when Kohli was showing signs of settling in, he offered a return-catch to James Tredwell.

Soon thereafter, Tredwell sent back Yuvraj Singh for the fourth successive time. Yuvraj, who managed just one run off seven deliveries from Tredwell fell to the eighth, leg-before for the second time in the series.

All this while, Rohit slowly gained in confidence and played some delightful strokes all over the ground.

Taking control

After Rohit’s departure, Raina took control. Caught in the slips by Cook off Finn luckily off a “dead ball” declared by Steve Davis after the bowler had dislodged the bails on his follow-through, Raina went on to reach his 27th half-century in ODIs. In the company of Dhoni, Raina raised 55 runs in eight overs to keep India within striking distance of the target. After Dhoni departed, Raina kept his head, hit boundaries at regular intervals and found a confident partner in Ravindra Jadeja at the business end of the chase.

Earlier, scoring 100 runs in the final 10 overs, England had reasons to be pleased with 257 runs. The late assault was expected after just 19 runs came in the second Power Play. But England got some timely help from Kohli and Raina, considered two of the better Indian fielders.

Root, who remained unbeaten with a 45-ball 57, opened his account with a fortuitous boundary after Kohli failed to latch on to a low catch at first slip.

Root enjoyed a second ‘life’ on 42 when a casual-looking Raina floored the simplest of catches.

Pietersen, playing much against his flamboyant nature, got to his 24th ODI half-century with only his third boundary off 84 balls, changed gears to hit three boundaries and a six off the last four deliveries he faced before being yorked by Ishant.

Earlier, Alastair Cook scored 76, looking in command throughout, before being at the receiving end of a leg-before decision by Sudhir Asnani. Overall, the match saw some ordinary umpiring decisions impacting both teams equally.

scoreboard

England: A. Cook lbw b Ashwin 76 (106b, 13x4), I. Bell c Bhuvneshwar b Ishant 10 (25b, 2x4), K. Pietersen b Ishant 76 (93b, 7x4, 1x6), E. Morgan c Yuvraj b Ashwin 3 (6b), S. Patel c & b Jadeja 1 (10b), J. Root (not out) 57 (45b, 8x4, 1x6), J. Buttler c Yuvraj b Jadeja 14 (9b, 1x4, 1x6), T. Bresnan c Yuvraj b Jadeja 0 (2b), J. Tredwell (not out) 6 (4b, 1x4); Extras (b-2, lb-8, w-4): 14; Total (for seven wkts. in 50 overs): 257.

Fall of wickets: 1-37 (Bell), 2-132 (Cook), 3-138 (Morgan), 4-142 (Patel), 5-220 (Pietersen), 6-241 (Buttler), 7-241 (Bresnan).

India bowling: Bhuvneshwar 10-2-30-0, Shami 8-0-58-0, Ishant 10-2-47-2, Ashwin 10-0-63-2, Jadeja 10-2-39-3, Raina 2-0-10-0.

India: G. Gambhir c Buttler b Bresnan 10 (16b, 2x4), Rohit lbw b Finn 83 (93b, 11x4, 1x6), V. Kohli c & b Tredwell 26 (33b, 3x4), Yuvraj lbw b Tredwell 3 (16b), S. Raina (not out) 89 (79b, 9x4, 1x6), M.S. Dhoni c Morgan b Dernbach 19 (21b, 2x4), R. Jadeja (not out) 21 (27b, 2x4); Extras (lb-2, w-5): 7; Total (for five wkts. in 47.3 overs): 258.

Fall of wickets: 1-20 (Gambhir), 2-72 (Kohli), 3-90 (Yuvraj), 4-158 (Rohit), 5-213 (Dhoni).

England bowling: Finn 10-1-39-1, Bresnan 10-1-59-1, Dernbach 9.3-0-59-1, Patel 3-0-21-0, Tredwell 10-0-54-2, Root 5-0-24-0.

Man-of-the-match: Suresh Raina.

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