Epic India chase wraps up series
India chased 299 in a pulsating contest at Mohali to win the one-day series with two games to spare.
England posted their first competitive total of this series, reaching 298 for four in the third game of the rubber, but India overhauled that by five wickets with four balls remaining.
Having managed just 174 in Hyderabad and 237 in Delhi, the tourists owed much to ICC Cricketer of the Year Jonathan Trott, who occupied the crease for more than 46 overs in making 98 not out from 116 balls.
Trott was the junior partner in a 101-run third-wicket stand with Kevin Pietersen, who contributed a classy 64 from 61 deliveries.
Samit Patel gave England a crucial shot in the arm during the closing overs with a brilliant unbeaten 70 from 43 balls, including seven fours and two sixes, as he and Trott added a rapid unbroken 103 on a true surface.
Like Trott, Ajinkya Rahane anchored his side’s innings. The opener compiled 91 from 104 balls, sharing partnerships of 79 with Parthiv Patel and 111 with Gautam Gambhir.
The latter alliance put India in a comfortable position until Pietersen held a superb diving catch, left-handed running back from short cover, to remove Gambhir for 58 from 60 deliveries.
That was the first of four wickets for 45 runs but Mahendra Singh Dhoni again proved England’s nemesis, putting on an unbroken 65 with Ravindra Jadeja to complete victory. They ended on 35 and 26 respectively.
Both sides remained unchanged from the previous game and Vinay Kumar soon had Alastair Cook, who won the toss, trapped in front.
Craig Kieswetter picked up the odd boundary, including a commanding six over midwicket off Praveen Kumar and a fortuitous one over third man off Vinay, to take England to 40 from the mandatory powerplay.
He played on to part-time off-spinner Virat Kohli for 36, but Pietersen soon got off the mark by clipping Kohli to the fine-leg boundary.
Trott picked up three fours in four deliveries by pulling Umesh Yadav and Kohli before cutting the latter to the boundary.
Pietersen gracefully drove Praveen on the up to collect three of four fours as 35 came from bowling powerplay, taken at the earliest opportunity.
Trott survived on 32 when he was slow to respond to Pietersen’s call for a single to a vacant midwicket and wicketkeeper Dhoni’s throw to Kohli at the striker’s end was wide.
Pietersen cut Jadeja for four to reach a half-century from 48 balls and soon picked up consecutive boundaries off Yadav.
The century alliance arrived shortly before Pietersen was trapped in front by Jadeja despite a large stride. Ravi Bopara began in risky fashion by edging Jadeja past slip for four.
Trott nudged Jadeja to leg to go to 50 from 71 balls before the batting powerplay, which yielded 30 but saw Bopara play on to Vinay’s searing yorker for 24, was forced.
Patel announced himself with a pulled boundary off Yadav and consecutive leg-side fours off Vinay.
He quickly grew in confidence, lifting Vinay over the long-on rope and - having gone to a half-century from 36 deliveries - striking four boundaries in the last two overs, finishing the innings by repeating his earlier blow off Vinay.
Parthiv and Rahane eschewed risk but picked up regular boundaries as 57 came from the initial powerplay overs in India's reply. Those dried up thereafter, encouraging Cook to take the bowling powerplay in the 16th.
Tim Bresnan rewarded Cook’s decision, trapping Parthiv in front for 38 with one that may have pitched fractionally outside the left-hander’s leg stump.
Bresnan gifted Gambhir a long-hop first ball, which was cut for four. Consecutive boundaries then came via Jonny Bairstow’s four overthrows and Rahane’s controlled edge off Bresnan.
With 31 taken from the powerplay and Rahane beyond 50, Gambhir survived on 17 when Kieswetter could not hold his faint edge off Patel.
England exerted some control in the middle overs when Gambhir went past 50 and heralded the century stand with a checked drive for six off Graeme Swann.
Pietersen’s intervention was crucial, giving Steven Finn - the game’s most impressive bowler with 2-44 from 10 overs - Gambhir’s wicket.
Kohli survived on four when Kieswetter dived to hold the right-hander’s toe-ended hook off Jade Dernbach but spilled the ball on landing.
Rahane and Suresh Raina fell in consecutive overs during the enforced batting powerplay, which yielded 33, caught by Cook diving at mid-off and Pietersen comfortably at short cover respectively.
Kohli added 31 after his reprieve until he was lbw on the back foot to Swann who, along with Patel, finished his allocation impressively.
Dernbach’s variations, however, and Finn’s last over proved expensive. From 30 needed from the final three overs when Kieswetter failed to run out Jadeja for 23, India required seven from the last and Dhoni struck Bresnan’s first two balls to the cover rope.
Bresnan was later fined 7.5% of his match fee for a Level 1 breach of the International Cricket Council Code of Conduct, after snatching his cap from umpire Sudhir Asnani at the end of the 18th over.