Five for India in Cuttack
Suresh Raina held his nerve with an unbeaten half-century under pressure to keep England waiting for an elusive first win in the one-day international series.
Chasing a total of 271 under lights in Cuttack, India looked likely to wobble when England removed Virender Sehwag and Yuvraj Singh from successive balls with the score on 156.
But Raina, in partnership with Mahendra Singh Dhoni, who looked a tad out of nick, showed character to see India in sight of victory, each with half-centuries.
When Dhoni fell, Raina (53) and Rohit Sharma (eight) polished off the remaining 21 runs with 6.2 overs to spare to take a six-wicket win.
Earlier, Kevin Pietersen answered the call to become the first England batsman to score a century in the series.
Pietersen was aided greatly by a third-wicket stand of 69 with Paul Collingwood (40), and an invaluable unbeaten partnership of 112 with an in-form Owais Shah (66 not out), who scored his second successive half-century.
His seventh ODI hundred, and first against India, came from 117 balls. Pietersen became the first England captain to score a one-day century outside London.
England’s innings was marked by a desire to keep wickets in hand, and accumulate intelligently against India’s spinners, Yuvraj and Harbhajan Singh.
India won the toss and asked England to bat with a modified line-up, opening with two Essex batsmen in Ravi Bopara, and the recalled Alastair Cook.
Cook’s return to the limited-overs spotlight proved short-lived, when he chased a wide delivery from Zaheer Khan to be caught at slip by Sachin Tendulkar for 11.
Bopara was fortunate to survive an appeal for leg before in Irfan Pathan’s third over, but he capitalised by driving handsomely down the ground and through the covers.
Bopara played a sumptuous cover drive for four off the second ball of Zaheer’s fifth over, but the bowler got his own back when Bopara steered him lazily to backward point for 24.
Pietersen made his intentions clear by hooking Irfan Pathan, playing alongside brother Yusuf, over the slip cordon for four but followed up with some wonderful glances off his legs.
He and Collingwood were content to milk the singles from Harbhajan and Yuvraj, who were introduced inside 16 overs. Then Collingwood brought up the fifty partnership with the first six of the innings, off Yuvraj.
It marked a change in tempo, as Pietersen followed suit with a powerful straight drive off Harbhajan and then a launch over midwicket for six. In the process, Pietersen passed 3,000 runs in ODI cricket, from a mere 87 matches.
Collingwood eventually fell to a well-taken catch by Zaheer at long-on, off the bowling of Harbhajan.
Andrew Flintoff lasted only three balls, flashing an edge straight to second slip in the first over of Ishant Sharma’s second spell.
Shah took up the baton, somewhat tentatively at first. He edged through second slip, and was almost caught by the omnipresent Zaheer at third man.
The Middlesex batsman became bogged down, before bringing up the 200 with a straight hit down the ground. Shah then cut loose spectacularly in the 46th over with succesive fours off Ishant Sharma.
When India replied, Sehwag and Tendulkar looked in danger of ending the contest with an opening stand of 136.
Early in his innings Tendulkar was fortunate not to chop onto his stumps off Broad, and edged short of Shah at second slip. The Little Master was happy to accumulate steadily and play second fiddle to Sehwag.
Sehwag was harsh on anything close to his legs, and greeted the arrival of Graeme Swann with disdain, dispatching the off-spinner for 21 runs in his first over.
Sehwag lost Tendulkar for an even 50, defeated by a ball from Steve Harmison that moved in off the track.
By the time Sehwag had romped his way to 91 from 73 balls, he and Yuvraj had contributed two centuries and four fifties to the series between them.
But Yuvraj offered a tough return catch to Bopara for six. Then Broad struck with the first ball of his second spell, having Sehwag lbw to a ball that on replay appeared to be heading past leg stump.
With a valiant Flintoff regularly beating the edge, it fell to Dhoni and Raina to see India towards their target.
Raina looked more fluent, driving well off Bopara, while Dhoni appeared fortunate to survive a sharp stumping chance by Matt Prior that was referred to the TV umpire.
Swann, the unlucky bowler, also watched as Dhoni looped a delivery straight over his head off a leading edge.
The moment encapsulated England’s day as they fell 5-0 behind in the seven-match series.