Ambati Rayudu slammed an unbeaten 64 as India relied on an all-round display to thrash England by six wickets in the third cricket one-dayer and take an unassailable 2-0 lead in the five-match series (Full Coverage: India tour for England)
If you were following the cricket with your eyes shut and ears open, Nottingham wouldn’t have sounded much different from Nagpur on Saturday. You would have heard loud boos cascading down the stands, which were full to the brim with India fans, when James Anderson took the guard towards the end of the first innings. Later in the afternoon, you would have heard the same fans humming the catchy, customary Ravindra Jadeja anthem when he stepped out to finish the game.
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Even a cursory glance at the scorecard at the end of the third one-dayer wouldn’t have suggested anything different. You would have seen England all out for a comfortably below-par 227 in 50 overs, with the Indian spinners accounting for six wickets. You would have further noticed that the target was achieved with six wickets and seven overs to spare, with Ambati Rayudu’s 78-ball 64 helping the Men in Blue to an unassailable 2-0 lead in the series.
Such has been the reversal in the respective fortunes of the two teams that they are barely recognizable from where they were towards the end of the Test series less than a fortnight ago. It’s Jimmy and not Jadeja the crowd is now having a go at, and it’s India and not England who are winning this battle hands down.
So what has happened in this period? To begin with, England are perhaps in a parallel cricketing universe as compared to India when it comes to priorities. Just as India go about their Test commitments in a rather uninterested fashion, the Three Lions appear equally dispassionate about their limited-overs cricket. They just don’t appear to care enough about the ODIs. And in the last two matches, they have played as such.
Carrying no baggage
Secondly, the reinforcements who have arrived from India for the ODI leg have come without any baggage of defeat. It certainly has reflected in the way they have played. Especially Suresh Raina and Rayudu, the two architects of India’s emphatic win on Saturday.
At the press conference the other day, Raina, who scored a match-winning hundred in Cardiff in the first game, said he loves playing against England. Today, he again came up with a very public display of that affection. Not just with bat, but with ball and his fielding as well. Earlier in the series, Dhoni spoke about how Raina, with his more than handy part-time spin, often bails him out of trouble. India, having put England in to bat, certainly were in a bit of trouble early on. Openers Alex Hales and Cook had put on an 82-run partnership and one of India’s pacers, Mohit Sharma, had hobbled off the ground with a leg injury. Dhoni was a bowler short. He summoned Raina in the 18th over, and a breakthrough followed.
Coming from around the wicket, he enticed Hales into playing an ill-advised sweep. The ball took the top-edge and Dhoni took a comfortable catch. Like in Cardiff, the first England wicket triggered a collapse, with another part-timer, Rayudu, who came in place of the injured Rohit Sharma, accounting for Cook. The England captain charged down to the spinner who fired a wide down the leg-side. An alert Dhoni did the rest.
Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja then ran through the middle order as England froze in fear at the sight of a turning track. Their abject display was captured most tellingly by this stat: Between overs No. 17.4 and 43.4, i.e.156 balls, they scored only one boundary.
India, on the other hand, showed that even the last piece of the jigsaw seemed to have fallen into place with their spectacular fielding.
Dhoni led the way from behind the stumps, while Mohit Sharma’s direct hit from the deep did England’s spin antidote Ian Bell in. The piece-de-resistance was Raina’s acrobatic single-handed catch at second slip to send back Ben Stokes. It alone proved that India have indeed come a long way from the Test series, where they just couldn’t hold on to any in the cordon.
James Tredwell’s lusty hits down the order added a hint of respectability to the home team’s total. But it couldn’t hide the fact that all 10 English wickets fell for a mere 145 runs. In Cardiff, the corresponding stat was 107 runs.
On a certified batting track, 227 was never going to pose any challenge, but there was some doubt over India’s top order with the regular opener Rohit out due to injury and Shikhar Dhawan struggling for runs. Expectedly, Rahane was promoted and he batted with abandon, playing authoritative cuts and pulls off England’s pacers. He even stepped out and lofted Stokes for a six over long-off.
However, his innings didn’t fulfill the promise — as Rahane’s ODI knocks rarely do — and he was caught behind off Finn for 45.
While Rahane played like a regular opener, Dhawan (16) seemed like a makeshift one, gifting away his wicket to Chris Woakes by hitting straight at point. Virat Kohli, too, had a soft dismissal after an attractive 40, flicking Woakes off his pads straight to mid-on.
India were still 108 runs away, but Rayudu and Raina snuffed out any hopes England might have had of making a match out of it.
Rayudu played shots all around, but the standout was the cheeky uppercut to the third-man boundary which he employed twice — the second time to bring up his half-century. If India had any worries after Rohit’s injury, they will have a happy headache in the middle-order after the opener returns.