Pune,: Sam Curran’s fighting knock (95*) went in vain as India beat England by 7 runs in a thrilling third and final ODI, to clinch series 2-1, at the Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium, here on Sunday.
India had also won the preceding four-match Test series 3-1 and the five-match T20I contest 3-2.
Invited to bat first, brilliant half-centuries by Shikhar Dhawan (67 off 56), Rishabh Pant (78 off 62) and Hardik Pandya (64 off 44) took India to a challenging total of 329 in 50 overs despite losing wickets at regular intervals.
Chasing a target of 330 for victory, England didn’t have a great start as Bhuvneshwar Kumar gave early jolts to the visitors, dismissing openers Jason Roy for 14, and the dangerous Jonny Bairstow for 1.
Ben Stokes (35 off 39 ), who came to bat at No 3 got a reprieve when Pandya dropped a dolly at mid-off. However, it didn’t cost India much as Natarajan dismissed Stokes after few overs.
Jos Buttler (15 off 18 balls) was then trapped leg before by Thakur, leaving England to 95 for 4.
From there on, Liam Livingstone (36) and Dawid Malan (50) joined forces for a 60-run stand.
However, Shardul Thakur brought India back into the game by removing Liam Livingstone (36) and Dawid Malan (50) in quick succession.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar also returned to get rid of Moeen Ali for 29, who was starting to look dangerous.
With England at 200-7 , the match became a no-contest. However, Sam Curran and Adil Rashid provided a glimmer of hope, adding 57 runs together. But Kohli took a stupendous catch in Shardul Thakur’s over to send the latter back to the hut.
Curran (95 off 83) put up a fighting partnership with Mark Wood (14) but Pandya and T Natarajan tighten things up in the final two overs, when the visitors needed 19 runs to win in 12 balls.
In the end, young T Natarajan (1/73) held his nerve to bowl a superb last over to restrict England to 322/9 in 50 overs and ensure that the hosts ended the tour by winning in all three formats.
For the hosts, Shardul (4/67) and Bhuvneshwar (3/42) shined with the ball.
Earlier, opener Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan gave India a great start and took hosts to 65/0 in the first 10 overs. The duo put on 100 runs for the first wicket inside 14 overs and India were looked set for a big total.
But, Adil Rashid gave England the much needed breakthrough as he dismissed Rohit (37) in the 15th over of the innings. Soon after Rohit’s wicket, Dhawan (67) and skipper Virat Kohli (7) were also sent back to the dressing room by Adil Rashid”s (2/81) and Moeen Ali respectively.
Thereafter, Pant and KL Rahul put on 36 runs for the fourth wicket. However, the partnership was cut short by Liam Livingstone in the 25th over as he dismissed Rahul (7), leaving India in a spot of bother at 157 for 4 just before the hafway stage of the innings.
Hardik Pandya then joined aggressive Pant in the middle and two played a brilliant counter-attacking cricket to stitch a 99-run partnership off just 73 balls as India looked set for a mammoth total.
When it looked like the duo would go berserk, Curran removed Pant in the 36th over courtesy a stunning catch by Jos Buttler. Hardik was then sent back to the pavilion by his England counterpart Ben Stokes in the 39th over, as the hosts again slipped to 276/6.
In the last 10 overs, a quick fire 30 off 21 balls by Shardul Thakur provided support to Krunal (25 off 34 balls) and the duo took India’s score past the 300-run mark. Shardul was dismissed in the 46th over and the hosts were not able to score runs freely after his wicket and eventually getting bowled out for 329 in 48.2 overs.
For England, Mark Wood was the most successful bowler with figures of 3 for 34 while Adil Rashid took two wickets.