India vs England | Thakur and Bhuvneshwar thwart England’s spirited chase as India triumphs in thriller

Hardik Pandya and Rishabh Pant of India during their partnership in the 3rd One Day International match between India and England at MCA Stadium on March 28, 2021 in Pune, India.   | Photo Credit: Surjeet Yadav

Sam Curran waged one of the finest assaults by a lower-order batsman on Indian soil. However, the southpaw couldn’t take England home as the visiting side fell agonisingly short of what could have been one of the most memorable comeback wins to hand India the third and final ODI, and the trophy, on Sunday.

With India adopting an aggressive approach from the start and being bowled out for 329 in the penultimate over on yet another belter of a surface at the Maharashtra Cricket Association stadium, England staged a remarkable late charge, thanks to Curran’s exploits. But T. Natarajan defended 12 runs in the last over to help India clinch a seven-run win to seal the series.

The ODI series win meant India registered clean sweep in each of the three formats against England over gruelling two months. But when Curran joined Moeen Ali at the crease in the 26th over, India looked to be cruising towards sealing the series in style. Shardul Thakur had broken the back of England’s middle-order. At 168 for six, the target of 330 looked well out of sight for England.

When Moeen’s uppish drive was latched on to by Hardik at mid-off to give Bhuvneshwar his third scalp in the 31st over, the game was all but sealed for India. However, with brother Tom making way for Mark Wood, Sam had to rely on Adil Rashid to hang in there along with him.

Had Hardik, who had earlier dropped a skier to hand Ben Stokes a reprieve earlier in the evening, not dropped running to his right from long-on off M. Prasidh Krishna, the game would have come to an early finish. But once he got the reprieve, left-handed Sam showed his all-round ability as a batsman.

Just when Sam Curran and Rashid’s 57-run stand was giving India a headache, Thakur was reintroduced into the attack and captain Kohli caught a stunner at short-cover to see Rashid’s back. Then on, till the last over, Sam farmed strike and Mark Wood batted sensibly whenever he had to and the pressure continued to mount on India.

His 16-over assault on Thakur in the 47th over brought England within touching distance. In the penultimate over, India dropped two more chances, thus raising England bench’s hopes of causing a sensation win.

However, with 12 required off the last over, Sam slipped while turning back for the second and Hardik’s rocket throw from long-on saw Wood being too late to return to the crease. Natarajan then didn’t bowl a rash bowl to help India cross the line.

Earlier in the afternoon, India took a cue from England’s crash-bang-wallop approach and executed it to near-perfection. Despite England bowlers depriving India of running away with the game by causing two mini-collapses, India piled on a sizeable total for a series-decider.

Thanks to quickfire partnerships between openers Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan; and power-hitters Rishabh Pant and Hardik Pandya, India brought up a total of 329 before being bowled out in the penultimate over after being inserted in to bat for the third time in succession.

When Virat Kohli attempted an outlandish swat off Moeen’s offspin in the 18th over, the world champion could have been hoping to end the tour on a high. Virat’s dismissal was the third Indian wicket to lose in 19 balls and the home team was in danger of throwing away the advantage. Despite pressing the accelerator from the beginning, Rohit (bowled through the gate) and Dhawan (return catch) had been undone by Adil Rashid’s googlies in successive overs after putting on 101 in less than 15 overs.

But Pant and Hardik’s jugalbandi of flawless strokeplay resulted in a 99-run stand off just 70 balls. Thakur’s cameo ensured India crossed the 320-run mark despite losing the last four wickets in eight balls.

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Printable version | May 9, 2021 12:40:11 AM |

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