England capped off an exciting white ball summer by sealing an ODI series win over India thanks to wickets from Adil Rashid (3/49) and David Willey (3/40) as well as another not out century from Joe Root (100) and runs from captain Eoin Morgan (88).
Morgan won the toss for England and elected to bowl first although Indian captain Virat Kohli said that he would have chosen to bat first anyway had he won the toss.
At the top of the order, Rohit Sharma looked a shadow of the batsman who scored a magnificent 137 not out in the first ODI as he struggled to score just 2 runs off 18 balls before finding the waiting hands of Mark Wood in the deep off the bowling of Willey.
With Kohli joining him at the crease, Shikhar Dhawan once again showed some good touch as he took a particular liking the first two overs of Liam Plunkett’s spell and enjoyed a 71-run partnership with his captain.
After being comically run out in the second T20I after dropping his bat, Dhawan continued his run of getting himself in but not making a big score, having failed to pass 50 so far in this tour, being run out by a brilliant Ben Stokes direct hit for 44.
Kohli, who himself was looking set for another big score having yet to score a hundred, was joined by Dinesh Karthik. Karthik had been brought into the side to replace KL Rahul who has struggled, having scored just 34 runs since his magnificent 101* in the first T20I.
Karthik is an excellent player of spin and was the latest incumbent in a long list of Indian number fours but settled in immediately, looking busy and running hard. The 33-year-old is coming off the back of a successful IPL season where he scored 498 runs at an average of 49.80 for the Kolkata Knight Riders and was initially looking in fine form alongside Kohli. However, Rashid soon put a stop to this, getting Karthik to drag the ball on to his stumps to send him packing for 21.
India then elected to promote MS Dhoni up the order ahead of Suresh Raina, to partner Kohli, after a somewhat baffling performance in the last ODI which drew boos from his own fans. However, for those hoping for a massive partnership between Kohli and Dhoni, it was Rashid who ruined those hopes, cutting short the pairing after they had shared just 31 runs.
Bowling to Kohli, who had looked untroubled on 71, Rashid bowled a delivery which pitched close to the leg stump and hit Kohli’s off stump in a dismissal reminiscent of Shane Warne’s legendary “Ball of the Century” wicket of Mike Gatting in 1993. The look on Kohli’s face was one of genuine disbelief as he could not quite understand how Rashid had managed to bowl such an excellent delivery.
In that same over, Rashid took his third and final wicket as he continued to dismantle India’s middle order, getting Raina brilliantly caught down the leg-side by an unsighted Joe Root for just the one run. It was an excellent bowling performance from the leg spinner whose spell of 3/49 from his 10 overs ripped the heart out of India’s innings and dismissed their most dangerous batsman in Kohli. In fact, between the two England spinners, Rashid and Ali conceded just 96 runs from their 20 overs as they limited the Indian scoring options.
The dangerous Hardik Pandya joined Dhoni with 19 overs to go in the innings and the score at 158-5 but, after Dhoni had an LBW decision against him overturned by DRS, Pandya too departed for 21, caught behind by Buttler off Wood.
With three genuine tail-end batsmen to come, Dhoni was once again stuck in a difficult situation where he did not want to attack too much for fear of getting out with so many overs to go and such a lack of batting to come. England were now dominating proceedings and Bhuvneshwar Kumar was struggling to get off strike, thus starving Dhoni of it and in the end his indecision caught up with him.
In the 46th over, Willey returned to the attack and caught Dhoni, pinned on the crease and getting him caught behind by Buttler for 42 off 90 balls at a strike rate of just 63.64.
England now smelt blood but an important cameo partnership of 35 between Kumar (21) and Shardul Thakur (22) snuck India over the 250-run mark before Kumar’s dismissal off the last ball left India with a total of 256-8.
In response, Jonny Bairstow and James Vince, who came into the side for the injured Jason Roy, got England off to a good start against a rusty Kumar and the rest of India’s seam attack with Bairstow in particular getting off to a flier. Unfortunately for the Yorkshireman, his innings only lasted 17 balls as he clipped Thakur straight to Suresh Raina for 30.
Vince then had his own Dhawan moment when, after looking set, he was run out by a whisker for a run a ball 27. Now Morgan was set to join Root at the crease and India’s trump bowler Kuldeep Yadav was still yet to bowl.
However, with only 183 runs needed from 245 balls and England’s two best players of spin at the crease, there was no need to take any risks against Kuldeep and Yuzvendra Chahal. Root and Morgan were not struggling to pick the two spinners and were relatively comfortable milking them for runs with no scoreboard pressure.
There was only one six hit in the England innings such was the comfortable nature of the chase and Root and Morgan both passed fifty with Morgan unable to reach three figures, finishing on 88 not out. Root however reached exactly 100 for the second game in a row with a four to end the game as England cruised to an eight-wicket win and a 2-1 series win.