Leeds: Star batsman Joe Root continued his splendid run with a second successive century as England produced another impressive allround display to canter to a comprehensive eight-wicket win over India in the series-deciding final ODI to wrap up the three-match series 2-1 on Tuesday.
Root (100), who had scored a match-winning century in the second ODI, completed his 13th ODI ton in the last ball, while skipper Eoin Morgan (88) smashed an unbeaten half-century as the duo shared a 186-run unconquered third wicket stand to script a successful runchase on a track which seemed to have eased out later in the day.
Chasing 258 to win, England finished with 260/2 in 44.3 overs as India’s streak of nine consecutive bilateral series’ wins came to a halt. With this win, England exacted revenge for their 1-2 loss against India in the twenty20 series. England thus won their first bilateral ODI series against this opposition since 2011. Earlier, Virat Kohli scored 71 runs off 72 balls, inclusive of eight fours, as India managed 256/8 (50 overs) after being put into bat.
The visitors’ innings had faltered in face of some disciplined spin bowling, with Adil Rashid taking 3-49 and hurting the middle order. MS Dhoni scored 42 off 66 balls to shepherd the innings in the latter half. Chasing a below-par total, England bolted off the blocks thanks to Jonny Bairstow’s 30 off 13 balls. He smacked seven fours and rendered ineffective India’s new ball pairing of Bhuvneshwar Kumar (0-49) and Hardik Pandya (0-39).
First change Shardul Thakur (1-51) too failed to provide any early breakthrough. He later removed Bairstow in the fifth over. Then James Vince (27) was run out as Dhoni acrobatically broke the stumps after collecting a fine throw from Pandya. In the interim though, Vince had added 31 with Root for the second wicket and kept England’s early momentum going. The hosts were placed at 78/2 after 10 overs, well ahead of the asking rate and eager to meet the challenge of spin.
Yuzvendra Chahal (0-41) varied his pace on a wicket taking some turn, while the main spotlight was on Kuldeep Yadav (0-55) again. Root joined in by Morgan replicated their partnership template from Lord’s as they rotated the strike well and didn’t mind when no boundaries flowed for a couple overs.
They added 50 for the third wicket off 69 balls, and in doing so became the most successful batting pair for England in ODIs. They went past 2118 partnerships runs put on by Alastair Cook and Ian Bell. Root then reached his half-century off 60 balls, while Morgan quickly joined him in reaching his 39th fifty off 58 balls. Their 100-partnership came off 118 balls even as Indian shoulders started to drop. England were in cruise control throughout this stand and India’s attack appeared lacking in penetration.
England eventually completed the formalities as Root scored his hundred off the last ball of the game, taking his side to victory with 5.3 overs to spare, thus maintaining their unbeaten streak at this ground in last seven matches. Earlier put into bat, India got off to a poor start as England pacers Mark Wood (1-30) and David Willey (3-40) moved the new balls around under heavy cloud cover with opener Rohit Sharma, in particular, struggling to put bat to ball. The Mumbaikar scored 2 off 18 balls before holing out to square leg in an effort to break the shackles. At 13/1 in the sixth over, Kohli joined Shikhar Dhawan (44) and the duo batted with renewed intent. Together they put on 71 runs off 72 balls and dug India out of the deep hole. Dhawan broke free with three successive boundaries, while Kohli looked up for it, this being the series’ deciding contest.
Their 50-partnership came off only 53 balls. However, just when they were setting up a base for India, Dhawan was run out by Ben Stokes, who broke the stumps with a direct throw after finding the opener short of the crease in the 18th over. Dinesh Karthik (21) helped India cross 100 in the 20th over and put on 41 runs with Kohli for the third wicket. That budding partnership was broken when Karthik played on off Rashid in the 25th over. It marked the onset of spin influence on this game, and six overs later came the big moment.
Kohli played for a regular leg break, only the ball ripped off the surface and took his off-stump. The Indian skipper, who had reached his 48th ODI half-century off 55 balls, looked stunned at the turn Rashid generated. It was the first time in 203 ODI innings that Kohli was dismissed by a leg spinner, who made it two wickets in six balls as Suresh Raina (1) was caught at leg slip.
The left-hander seemed to be giving catching practice as India slumped to 158 for 5. Dhoni, who had walked to the crease with loud cheers from the Headingley crowd, put on 36 runs with Hardik Pandya (21) in a bid to rebuild the innings. The duo batted with caution, as they were the last recognized pair. But just when they looked set to launch an offensive in the last 10 overs, Pandya was caught behind off Wood.
Dhoni pushed India past 200 in the 42nd over and put on 27 runs with Bhuvneshwar Kumar (21), as the English pacers kept a tight leash on the run-rate. Dhoni was caught behind in the 46th over, and it seemed that India will fall short of 250. But Shardul Thakur’s 22-run blitz off 13 balls including two sixes brought the visitors to a defendable total on a track that is starting to take ample turn.