England beat India in a nail biting finish to the third ODI at Kolkata’s Eden Gardens. Chasing a target of 322, India were tottering at 173/5 after 31 overs. But Hardik Pandya and Kedar Jadhav provided the much needed impetus. Their sixth wicket stand of 104 runs brought India right back in the game. But the hosts were unable to complete the chase and fell short of the target by six runs. This is the first victory that England have had over India in their otherwise forgettable tour that ends with a three match T20 international series
India’s openers failed to fire yet again. Ajinkya Rahane was dismissed in the second over after making just one run. KL Rahul soon followed having been dismissed by Jake Ball, who replaced an injured David Willey. Skipper Virat Kohli and Yuvraj Singh then made 65 runs for the third wicket. Both crossed their half centuries and India looked to be on their way to a victory before Kohli was dismissed by Ben Stokes.
MS Dhoni walked out into the middle and the noise levels in the crowd rose. They probably expected another carnage from the two veterans but that was not to be as Yuvraj Singh became the fourth man to depart. Dhoni soon followed suit and it looked like India might be crashing to a comprehensive defeat at Kolkata.
But then Hardik Pandya turned the tide on the visitors. Kedar Jadhav soon joined in and England had a respite from the onslaught only when Pandya was dismissed. That was not before he got to his maiden ODI half century. While India kept coming closer to the target, they kept losing wickets at regular intervals too. Hence, Kedar Jadhav was left with too much to do in the last over.
Unlike the pitches in the previous two matches, which were nightmares for both sets of bowlers, this was one that had something for them. Sunil Gavaskar had earlier said that the team that wins the toss should be looking to bat first. Virat Kohli though, decided to let Englishmen wield their bats first, trusting the success his team has had chasing.
England made India work for their breakthrough. Sam Billings, who replaced the injured Alex Hales in the opening position, and Jason Roy put up a first wicket partnership of 98 runs. Billings was the first man to fall, Ravindra Jadeja provided the breakthrough in the 17th over. Roy, who was the highest scorer for England with 65 was bowled by Jadeja soon after.
Skipper Eoin Morgan, in good touch after his ton in Cuttack, then struck up an 84 run stand for the third wicket with Jonny Bairstow. England lost four wickets between the 40th and 50th over but Ben Stokes smashed the Indian bowlers all around the park to take England’s total to 321/8. Ben Stokes was decalred man of the match for his unbeaten 57 off 39 balls and his three wickets, including the crucial ones of Virat Kohli and Hardik Pandya. But Kedar Jadhav was declared man of the series due to his unexpectedly consistent performances with the bat.