Kohli on song as India forge ahead
England endured a day to forget in Ranchi as India opened up a 2-1 lead in the five-match one-day international series courtesy of a comfortable seven-wicket win.
The build-up to this match, the first to be held at the Jharkhand State Cricket Association Stadium, had been dominated by one man - hometown hero Mahendra Singh Dhoni.
To the delight of his adoring fans, India’s captain was able to apply the finishing touches to his side’s success, yet it was Virat Kohli who stole the show with an eye-catching unbeaten 77 after England had struggled to 155 all out in 42.2 overs upon losing the toss.
Alastair Cook’s side have made great strides in one-day cricket in recent times and still have the opportunity to bounce back at Mohali and Dharamsala, but this is not a performance they will look back on with any fondness.
On a seemingly blameless pitch, a number of England’s players were guilty of giving their wickets away in an innings undermined by the repeated fall of batsmen in clusters.
India’s new-ball pair of Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Shami Ahmed operated with discipline early on and just 34 runs were conceded in a mandatory powerplay that also brought the wicket of Alastair Cook, lbw to Ahmed for 17 when walking across his stumps.
A trio of expensive overs provided England with some momentum, but things rapidly went awry once Kevin Pietersen had been adjudged caught behind off Ishant Sharma. Replays suggested Pietersen was unfortunate, with a rising delivery seemingly brushing thigh pad rather than bat on the way through to Dhoni.
The crowd were sent into raptures again in the next over as Dhoni claimed a second catch, this time standing up to the stumps, to account for Ian Bell, who may regret his loose cut stroke against Bhuvneshwar.
England then lost three wickets in the space of nine balls to leave India firmly in control. Eoin Morgan spooned a reverse-sweep to short third man off Ravichandran Ashwin, while Ravindra Jadeja deceived Craig Kieswetter and Samit Patel with deliveries that did not turn, dismissing both for ducks.
Joe Root and Tim Bresnan displayed much-needed resolve in sharing 47, only to then depart in successive overs. The mature Root provided Dhoni with a third catch and Ishant with a second scalp when failing to reach the pitch of the ball driving, while Bresnan was bowled by a fiendish off-break from Ashwin - the only instance of a spinner getting one to grip.
Steven Finn holed out to Suresh Raina and Jadeja, who returned 3-19, finished things off with another straight ball that cleaned up Jade Dernbach.
A fired-up Finn operated with hostility when India began their chase and was unlucky not to add to his dismissal of Ajinkya Rahane, bowled through the gate for the second successive match.
Both Gautam Gambhir and Kohli suffered moments of discomfort against England’s pace spearhead, yet the latter’s attractive strokeplay also came to the fore as he returned to form following a run of low scores.
By passing 4,000 ODI runs in only his 92nd match, India’s number three equalled a long-standing record of Sir Viv Richards, although the latter reached the landmark in five fewer innings.
Gambhir failed to fully cash in on a start for the umpteenth time this winter; with 33 to his name, he picked out mid-on to give the ever-reliable James Tredwell a sixth wicket of the series.
Tredwell also ended a powerful cameo from Yuvraj Singh by bowling the left-hander for 30, yet Kohli, typically strong through the leg side, would not be shifted and provided no shortage of entertainment prior to Dhoni’s late arrival.
Live Text Commentary
12:24pm - END OF MATCH! INDIA WIN BY SEVEN WICKETS! - The Ranchi crowd get their dream ending as Dhoni pulls Finn for four to seal a seven-wicket triumph. Kohli finishes unbeaten on 77 at the other end, having reminded everyone of his class with some scintillating strokeplay. India lead the five-match series 2-1 with two games to play and England will need to improve in Mohali on Wednesday.
12:12pm - WICKET! Yuvraj b Tredwell 30; Ind 144/3 - Tredwell sneaks one through Yuvraj’s defences and the crowd erupts! Here comes Dhoni to finish things off...
12:11pm - The Virat Kohli Show continues - and what a show it has been. He eases Dernbach to the right of mid-off for boundary number 11. Yuvraj clearly does not want to play second fiddle and collects fours on either side of the wicket later in the over. India require 13 more for victory.
12:06pm - Yuvraj continues to attack and picks up four more with a cover-drive off the returning Dernbach. Kohli then clears the ropes again off Tredwell, with midwicket his target area this time around.
11:57am - India are not wasting any time here. Yuvraj pulls Bresnan over the infield at midwicket before Kohli picks up the game’s first maximum with a majestic shot over mid-on off Tredwell. Less than 50 runs are needed.
11:50am - FIFTY! Kohli (58b 8x4 0x6) - Kohli moves to 4,000 ODI runs, in fewer innings than any player besides Sir Viv Richards, before Yuvraj advances to club Tredwell over the off side for four. A nudge to deep square-leg then takes Kohli past 50; he is most definitely back in form.
11:46am - Bresnan begins to wheel away in celebration, thinking he has bowled Yuvraj Singh via inside edge. However, the ball cannoned into Yuvi’s feet and missed the stumps, much to Bresnan's amazement and dismay.
11:40am - WICKET! Gambhir c Root b Tredwell 33; Ind 78/2 - That man Tredwell strikes again! Gambhir tries to cart the off-spinner over the top, but fails to clear Joe Root at mid-on. A glimmer of hope for England.
11:32am - Time for some spin, with James Tredwell - arguably England’s best player on tour thus far - into the attack. He concedes three in his opening over before drinks are taken at 73 for one.
11:27am - The fifty partnership arrives - from 68 deliveries - as Kohli gloves Finn down to the fine-leg fence. It does not look as though Mahendra Singh Dhoni will be promoting himself up the order in front of his home fans. India’s captain is sat in the dressing room and does not have his pads on at present.
11:13am - Finn is refusing to throw in the towel here. After being cracked down the ground for four by Kohli, the Middlesex paceman responds with a vicious bouncer that takes the top edge as Kohli attempts to drop his hands and almost goes for six.
11:07am - India end the powerplay on 48 for one and are very much in the box seat.
11:03am - Tim Bresnan replaces Dernbach and is immediately driven through the covers by an increasingly assured Kohli. A thick edge from Gambhir off Finn then sails over the slip cordon. Kevin Pietersen appeals enthusiastically for a catch in the gully later in the over, but there was no bat involved as Finn discomforted Gambhir once again.
10:49am - Dernbach is also working up a decent head of steam and induces a top-edge from Kohli that flies over wicketkeeper Craig Kieswetter for four. The next ball is also dug in short, but Kohli is expecting it on this occasion and connects sweetly with a swivel-pull. A glorious wristy flick through square-leg makes it three fours in as many deliveries for India’s number three.
10:45am - Gambhir clips Finn, who is operating with a good level of hostility, off his hip to register a second four. India are 19 for one after five overs.
10:34am - WICKET! Rahane b Finn 0; Ind 11/1 - Finn replicates his dismissal of Rahane in Kochi, bowling the opener through the gate with one that nipped back a fraction. Virat Kohli is then struck on the pad first up, but that looked to be sliding down and a passionate lbw shout is rejected.
10:29am - Gautam Gambhir drives Jade Dernbach behind point, but is then beaten outside off by one that reared up off a length.
10:23am - We are back under way in Ranchi. Steven Finn starts with a wide before seeing an lbw appeal against Ajinkya Rahane turned down due to height. It is fair to say early wickets are essential if England are to turn this match around.
9:35am - WICKET! Dernbach b Jadeja 0; Eng 155 all out - Jadeja finishes things off, bowling Jade Dernbach with another delivery that skidded on with the arm. India require 156 to move 2-1 ahead in the series and I’m afraid I can’t see them having too many problems on this surface.
9:31am - WICKET! Finn c Yuvraj b Raina 3; Eng 155/9 - The end is nigh. Finn gets hold of a slog-sweep, but picks out Yuvraj Singh at deep midwicket.
9:25am - Steven Finn is almost run out following a mix-up with James Tredwell. A poor throw from Suresh Raina saves England’s number 10 and the score reads 152 for eight with 10 overs remaining.
9:13am - WICKET! Bresnan b Ashwin 25; Eng 145/8 - For the third time in the innings, England lose two wickets without adding to their score. Having batted well for his 25, Bresnan is pretty much blameless as Ashwin gets one to rip through the gate. That was a wonderful piece of bowling.
9:09am - WICKET! Root c Dhoni b Ishant 39; Eng 145/7 - The first over of the powerplay, delivered by Ashwin, brings seven runs. Root then guides Ishant through backward point, only to be caught behind when attempting to drive the next ball. I’m afraid he didn’t get to the pitch of that one and Dhoni now has three catches on his home turf.
9:01am - Root is showing impressive resolve and a willingness to sweep the slower bowlers. He now has 31, while Bresnan is 20 not out following a neat back-cut to the boundary off Jadeja. The batting powerplay will now be enforced.
8:53am - Drinks are taken in Ranchi. A total of 123 for six is certainly not what Cook will have wanted at this stage.
8:45am - Ahmed is back, with England having at least steadied a listing ship with a few productive overs. The Yorkshire pairing of Root and Bresnan need to stick together.
8:35am - New batsman Tim Bresnan edges Jadeja past slip for a much-needed boundary. England are going to do well to simply bat 50 overs.
8:26am - WICKET! Patel lbw Jadeja 0; Eng 98/6 - A third wicket falls in quick succession. Samit Patel follows Kieswetter’s lead by playing for spin that doesn’t come and is trapped in front.
8:22am - WICKET! Kieswetter b Jadeja 0; Eng 98/5 - Things are looking bleak now. Jadeja returns to the attack and bowls Kieswetter through the gate for a blob.
8:19am - WICKET! Morgan c Yuvraj b Ashwin 10; Eng 97/4 - Oh dear! Morgan’s signature shot proves his undoing. The left-hander makes a mess of an attempted reverse-sweep and succeeds only in spooning up a simple catch to short third man. England are in trouble now as Craig Kieswetter joins Root.
8:16am - That’s more like it from Root; a firm straight-drive off Ahmed takes him to 15 from 20 deliveries.
8:10am - Ravichandran Ashwin takes over from Bhuvneshwar and is drilled through midwicket by Root. A bizarre incident follows, with the Yorkshireman almost losing his balance when looking to reverse-paddle some leg-side filth. Dhoni appeals for a stumping, but Root survives.
8:01am - Sweet timing from Morgan, who drives with authority through extra cover after another corker from Ishant had beaten his inside edge. Bhuvneshwar finishes with 1-40 from a full allocation.
7:52am - Joe Root and Eoin Morgan now face the task of rebuilding England’s innings. The latter plays out the remainder of Bhuvneshwar’s eighth over, a wicket-maiden. After a quiet over from Ishant, Root cuts for four to break the shackles.
7:39am - WICKET! Bell c Dhoni b Bhuvneshwar 25; Eng 68/3 - England lose another wicket without adding to their total. On this occasion, Dhoni takes a superb catch standing up to the returning Bhuvneshwar after Bell had got a thin edge looking to cut.
7:36am - WICKET! Pietersen c Dhoni b Ishant 17; Eng 68/2 - Pietersen falls to a beauty from Ishant, although he can consider himself very unfortunate to have been given out. India’s long-haired paceman got one to jag away off a length, but replays show the ball brushed Pietersen’s thigh pad, rather than bat, on the way through to Mahendra Singh Dhoni.
7:31am - India are threatening to undo their early hard work here. A loose delivery from Bhuvneshwar deflects off Pietersen’s pad for four leg byes. Spin is introduced in the form of Ravindra Jadeja, who races through his first over in typically swift fashion. Four runs come from it.
7:23am - Back-to-back fours from Bell boost the total. The opener displays class in driving Bhuvneshwar through the covers, but is then fortunate to see a top-edged pull run away to the fine-leg fence. Ishant Sharma replaces Ahmed at the North Pavilion End and sees a hopeful lbw appeal against Pietersen turned down. KP replies with a powerful drive down the ground, followed by an effortless clip through midwicket. England are motoring now; the last two overs have brought as many boundaries as the previous 10.
7:14am - A boundary at last for Bell, who cuts Bhuvneshwar behind square. Kevin Pietersen is alongside the Warwickshire man as the powerplay comes to an end with England 34 for one.
7:04am - WICKET! Cook lbw Ahmed 17; Eng 24/1 - Having made just one from 17 deliveries, Bell gives Ahmed the charge, yet fails to connect cleanly. His intent does prompt the bowler to drop short with his next delivery, however, which is rightly called as a wide. There is success for India later in the over when Cook wanders across his stumps to be pinned in front by one that nipped back as the batsman played across the line.
6:59am - Bell may be struggling to score, but Cook looks in good touch and steps down the track to punch Bhuvneshwar down the ground for his third boundary.
6:55am - Bhuvneshwar errs in length and is punished by Cook, who cuts confidently through point for four. An advancing Bell then edges one wide of second slip to register his first run, but Ahmed responds with another tight over, yielding a solitary wide.
6:47am - Bell plays out a maiden from Bhuvneshwar, making it 10 balls without a run for the right-hander. Just one comes from the next set of six and England have seven on the board.
6:39am - England’s first boundary arrives as Cook clips Shami Ahmed to the left of mid-on. That ball raced away over the outfield. Ian Bell then survives a minor scare, having been sent back to the non-striker’s end when looking to steal a single. Ravindra Jadeja’s throw from midwicket missed the stumps, but Bell looked to be home anyway.
6:34am - Bhuvneshwar Kumar, an impressive performer in Kochi, is handed one of the two new balls and finds a little bit of early swing. Alastair Cook gets England up and running with a leg-side single, but the only other run in the over comes courtesy of a wide.
6:25am - Captain Cook admitted he too would have bowled first, given the chance. However, the wicket in Ranchi looks a belter, so England will be hopeful of putting a healthy score on the board. Each of the first two matches in this series were won by the side who batted first.
6:12am - Here are the teams in full.
India: Gautam Gambhir, Ajinkya Rahane, Virat Kohli, Yuvraj Singh, Suresh Raina, Mahendra Singh Dhoni (captain, wicketkeeper), Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Ishant Sharma, Shami Ahmed.
England: Alastair Cook (captain), Ian Bell, Kevin Pietersen, Joe Root, Eoin Morgan, Craig Kieswetter (wicketkeeper), Samit Patel, Tim Bresnan, James Tredwell, Steven Finn, Jade Dernbach.
6:05am - INDIA WIN THE TOSS AND BOWL - Alastair Cook calls incorrectly and is invited to bat first. Dhoni, cheered loudly by a hugely enthusiastic crowd, believes dew will play a factor later in the match. Bresnan does return in place of Chris Woakes, meaning England field the same side that achieved success in the series-opener. India unsurprisingly keep faith with the XI who were victorious last time out.
5:55am - Tim Bresnan is expected to be available for England after missing Tuesday’s match with bruising just above a knee. We are about to find out whether there are any changes to the two teams that featured in Kochi.
5:45am - India's captain will be guaranteed a rapturous reception when the toss takes place in around 15 minutes time. The series is tied at 1-1 heading into this encounter, with Dhoni's men having responded to England's fine win in Rajkot with a 127-run victory in Kochi.
5:35am - It's pretty darn cold in the UK right now, but England's cricketers are preparing to face a red-hot atmosphere in Ranchi, the venue for game three of the ODI series with India. The Jharkhand State Cricket Association Stadium is hosting its first international fixture and hometown hero Mahendra Singh Dhoni is very much the centre of attention.