By BV Swagath
India clinched the Mohali ODI to take an unassailable series lead of 3-1 against England. It was an all-round performance for Team India with the bowlers doing their bit and the batsmen ensuring that their efforts aren’t wasted. England were kept down to 257 for 7 and India chased down the runs comfortably with five wickets in hand with 15 balls to spare. Rohit Sharma and Suresh Raina sizzled in the run chase for the hosts on a pitch that was offering good assistance for the seamers with the two new balls.
Asked to bat first, England were off to a steady start before Ian Bell (10) got caught at thirdman trying to break the shackles in the 10th over with only 37 on the board. Alastair Cook consolidated his team’s position with a 95-run stand with Pietersen. India broke this stand when R Ashwin was lucky to get Cook (76 from 103 balls with 13 fours) lbw to a ball that had pitched outside leg. England lost two more wickets in succession after this – Eoin Morgan (3, trying a big shot off Ashwin and getting caught at mid on) and Samit Patel (1, caught and bowled by Jadeja) to slip to 142 for 4 by the 37th over.
The dangerous Kevin Pietersen who struggled to put bat to ball especially against Ishant Sharma, found his touch but lost his wicket at a crucial juncture, in the 46th over, cleaned up by a yorker from the same bowler while playing a rash shot. Pietersen scored 76 from 93 balls with 7 fours and a six. Young Joe Root provided a superb finish for England with a breezy knock of 57* (from 45 balls with 8 fours and a six). England once again plundered quite a lot of runs in the slog overs, to be precise scoring 100 runs in the last 10 overs!
The Indian bowling was good although they couldn’t cut down the runs in the final overs. Bhuvneshwar Kumar gave away only 30 runs in his 10 overs, Ishant took 2 for 47 in his 10 and Jadeja claimed 3 for 39 in his 10.
In the run chase, India saw a bad decision go their way when Gautam Gambhir was given caught behind off Tim Bresnan when he had made no contact to a square cut. India was 201 for 1 in the 6th over when Kohli joined new opener Rohit Sharma. The two young men saw through the two new balls with some luck with both having their anxious moments. Kohli departed after a 33-ball 26 when he was caught and bowled by off-spinner Tredwell off a leading edge with India at 72 for 2 in the 17th over. The same bowler dismissed Yuvraj Singh (3) for the fourth time in a row; this time too he had the left hander lbw in an attempted sweep.
India at 90 for 3 in the 23rd over needed a big partnership and that came from Rohit and Raina. Rohit Sharma having worked hard to reach his fifty, opened his shoulders to score some quick boundaries. Raina at the other hand was very positive and eager to take the calculated risks. Tredwell was soon hit out of the attack by the duo and runs were coming thick and fast. The pair added 68 runs in 8.3 overs before Rohit Sharma was wrongly given lbw by Umpire Steve Davis to a Steven Finn delivery that nipping back with bounce to miss the leg stump. Rohit scored 83 from 93 balls with 11 fours and a six.
Rohit Sharma’s exit at 158 for 4 in the 32nd over had opened the match for England. However, Skipper Dhoni although scoring only 19 had done enough with Raina to seal the match with a 55-run stand. Suresh Raina got the Man of the Match ahead of Rohit by smashing an unbeaten 89 (from 79 balls with 9 fours and a six) under pressure. Ravindra Jadeja helped himself to an unbeaten 21 to help Raina wrap up the match in the 48th over.
For England, Steven Finn was the only bowler who had any serious impact on the Indian batsmen. Finn would have had Raina (then on 41) out at the start of the 35th over when the left-hander edged his drive into slips. However, Finn was denied the wicket as he had knocked the stumps with his knee just before releasing the ball. Things could have been different had Finn not repeated this peculiar habit of this.
Toss and Teams: India have won the toss and asked England to bat first under foggy conditions at the PCA Stadium in Mohali in the 4th ODI. It is a do-or-die contest for England to stay alive in this series as they are trailing behind by 1-2. Both the sides have made one change each to their batting line-up. India have brought in Rohit Sharma for Ajinkya Rahane while England have got in Jos Buttler to replace Craig Kieswetter in the role of a Wicket Keeper batsman.
The new balls are expected to do some damage under the misty conditions. Traditionally Mohali has been a good surface to exploit for the seam bowlers but the batsmen do enjoy the true bounce and pace in the wicket.
India: Gautam Gambhir, Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, Yuvraj Singh, Suresh Raina, MS Dhoni (C&WK), Ravindra Jadeja, R Ashwin, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Ishant Sharma, Shami Ahmed
England: Alastair Cook (C), Ian Bell, Kevin Pietersen, Joe Root, Eoin Morgan, Jos Buttler (WK), Samit Patel, Tim Bresnan, James Tredwell, Steven Finn, Jade Dernbach