Ajinkya Rahane’s maiden One-day international century and an unbeaten 97 by Shikhar Dhawan led India to a nine-wicket win in the fourth ODI. Outplaying England for the third consecutive time, India registered a bilateral ODI series win in England after 24 years. (Also Read: Stats Highlights: England vs India, 4th ODI)
With a 183-run opening stand, Rahane and Dhawan helped India gallop to the target after the bowlers set up the match in their team’s favour. With yet another comprehensive win, Dhoni became the most successful captain for India in ODIs. (Also Read: Tough series taught many lessons: Shikhar Dhawan)
Earlier, after MS Dhoni opted to bowl, Bhuvneshwar Kumar sent back the England openers in the fifth over as the visitors bid to seal the series. While the wiry pacer finished with 8-3-14-2, Shami claimed three to help restrict the hosts to 206. Debutant Dhawal Kulkarni was the only Indian bowler to return wicketless as India wrapped-up the hosts innings with three balls to spare. Kumar struck early to leave England on 16/2 at Edgbaston. While the pacer knocked off Alex Hales’ middle-stump and disrupted the woodwork with an inswinger, Alastair Cook hit him to gully where Suresh Raina snapped the catch.
Seven runs later, Shami who had been hitting the deck hard from his first delivery accounted for the wicket of Gary Ballance who had replaced Ian Bell in the side. Ballance, who had been in sublime touch during the Test series hit the ball to cover leaving the side on 23/3.
Joe Root and Eoin Morgan were then made to toil hard for runs by the Indians. Playing watchfully, the pair scrapped together an 80-run partnership to keep the team in fray. They took England past the 100-run mark but Ravindra Jadeja claimed Morgan to end the partnership. Root followed suit 11 runs later, handing Suresh Raina an easy catch to depart for 44.
Moeen Ali then came to the crease and injected life into the England innings. He found the gaps to collect singles and doubles and later began to go for the big shots at regular intervals as he stitched a 50-run stand with Joss Buttler. The flourishing partnership was however brought to an end by Mohammed Shami trapping Buttler leg before for 11. Moeen Ali though continued to keep the scoreboard ticking to reach a well made half century.
Ali though ran out of partners as wickets began to tumble at the other end. Chris Woakes was run-out off a direct hit from Suresh Raina and seven runs later it was Ali who had to take the long walk back to the pavilion after being castled by R Ashwin. Ravindra Jadeja and Mohammed Shami then knocked of the remaining two wickets as England folded up for 206.
India’s run-chase was cautious. Openers Ajinkya Rahane and Shikhar Dhawan looked intent to put up a big opening stand in India’s pursuit of 207. After a circumspect start, Ajinkya Rahane began to unleash himself on the England pacers. With just four runs from the first four overs, the opener struck Anderson for four breathtaking boundaries in the fifth over to collect 16 from it. There was no looking back for him from there on. While Shikhar Dhawan bided his time at the other end, Rahane kept the scorers busy with his elegant batting. The left-hand batsman too caught up; slamming Woakes to the boundary on either side of the wicket.
With the Indian openers pilfering runs off the England pacers, Cook introduced Moeen Ali into the attack but without much respite. Rahane later pulled Finn to get within six short of fifty and a bit later swept Ali across the boundary to reach 53. Dhawan, who hadn’t been amongst runs, lofted Anderson into the stands to bring up his half-century.
While Rahane led the onslaught, Dhawan too gleaned runs off the opposition as they posted India’s highest opening partnership against England in England. With a four off Woakes, Rahane surpassed his previous best ODI score and came within eight runs of a century. A bit later, with two runs down the leg side off Woakes, the youngster brought up maiden ODI hundred. However, in the next over he found the fielder at cover point to depart for 106.
Having found his nick Dhawan was at his destructive best as he dismissed the bowlers to the ropes. He helped claim 17 off Woakes including two boundaries and a six. The left-hand batsman then took the team across the finishing line with Virat Kohli in a 29-run partnership.
India won by 9 wickets
India 212 for 1 (Rahane 106, Dhawan 97*) beat England 206 (Moeen 67, Shami 3-28, Bhuvneshwar 2-14) by nine wickets
Ajinkya Rahane for his maiden ODI ton in a winning cause
MS Dhoni: "Our performances keep getting better. Today was the perfect game. Our fast bowlers were patient and made things easy for our spinners later on, which was important. It is important our opening batsmen got going and we rely a lot of them to allow us to accelerate in the middle overs"
Alastair Cook: "It was a tough day, I am not sure why we played that badly and there is no excuse. India out skilled us with the bat and ball. We have to stay true to ourselves and work hard to turn it around. We have to look forward but at the moment we aren't delivering"
Ajinkya Rahane: " Feels really great when you get a 100 and the team wins. Credit goes to the bowlers as well for setting up the match. I was batting well after the first few games and I was focussing to stay there. Really happy for Dhawan, the way he batted was special. We just wanted to enjoy the game. It's a great challenge to open, you have to prepare your mind."