England came up short against India, losing by just seven runs in an absolutely thrilling ODI decider which went right down to the wire. It looked like the tie was all over after England’s top order fell cheaply, that was until Sam Curran came to the crease and hit a huge 95, but it wasn’t quite enough as India saw out the final over to win the triple header - having already won the Test and T20 series.
For the third time in a row, England won the toss, India batted first and the visitors attempted to chase a decent total. On the best wicket we have seen so far in the one day games, India’s opening pairing of Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan once again made it to 100 for no loss, before England’s spinners got stuck in.
Adil Rashid showed his great flexibility as he cleanly bowled Rohit with a googly to stop India in their tracks before then brilliantly drawing a chipped shot from Dhawan which he caught himself. Despite being hit for 81 runs over his ten overs, Rashid proved his value by crucially dismissing both openers, when England were struggling to make inroads.
Having watched Rashid take the glory, fellow spinner Moeen got in on the act to dismiss Virat Kohli with an absolutely plum delivery. England’s bowlers had taken three wickets in just 19 balls and completely changed the outlook of this crucial match. Rishabh Pant, who has been so impressive recently, top-scored for India with 78 as he and Hardik Pandya put together a partnership that took India up to 256-5.
With Jofra Archer needing an operation after injuring his hand at home, there will be opportunities for ‘fringe’ bowlers to make an impact. Sam Curran got Pant caught behind and Stokes bowled H.Pandya but it was late on where the England bowlers really started to enjoy themselves. Finishing with a flourish, Mark Wood showed his effectiveness with three wickets as India tried to push on with five overs remaining on 321-6, yet they only finished on 329 all out.
England’s top three, who dragged the side to victory in the last meeting, failed to repeat the feat as both openers were dismissed within three overs. Jason Roy aggressively hit 14 off the first five deliveries but then was beautifully bowled by Bhuvneshwar Kumar, while Jonny Bairstow fell to the same bowler moments later, LBW.
It looked like India had missed a golden opportunity as Ben Stokes was dropped by Hardik Pandya, with England on 37-2 but Stokes would only go on to make 35 as England struggled to gain any momentum. This wouldn’t be the last missed catch for Kohli’s side, who could have won this game comfortably. It was a big game for Jos Buttler with the bat but he failed to impress, out for 15 after a review from captain Kohli overturned the umpire’s original not out decision.
Liam Livingstone and Dawid Malan came in to steady the ship without ripping up trees, putting together a partnership of 60 before Livingstone was caught and bowled by that man again, Shardul Thakur, who has caused England problems all series. Malan made 50 from 50 before pulling to Rohit to catch from another difficult Thakur delivery. For all the promise both he and Livingstone showed, Thakur provided a spark England just couldn’t deal with.
Moeen came in to bat and hit a couple of sixes before falling, while Curran did the same before being dropped by Hardik Pandya on 23. It wasn’t his day in the field. England needed 116 from 102, then 79 from 78 after great work from Curran and Rashid. Kohli pulled off a brilliant diving one-handed catch to dismiss Rashid for 19, Thakur again with the wicket, but Curran was absolutely superb, keeping the game alive on his way to 95 not out.
There were more butterfingers from India as Wood was dropped by Takur, before Curran was dropped the very next ball by Natarajan. England needed 14 from the final over but Wood was run out first ball and Curran had too much to do from the final four deliveries.
A thrilling tour of India comes to an end and the results may not have gone England’s way, but there were some spectacular individual performances to admire from this exciting side. Let's see what the rest of 2021 has in store for them.