The odds and history were against England before the match and then before the last 4 balls of the match but England persevered and held their nerves to outdo them both as they finally won a match on this Indian tour and as it was also their first ever ODI win at the Eden Gardens, Kolkata. England again scored more than 300 runs and had the measure of India for most of the Innings before the miracle man Kedar Jadhav almost pulled off yet another stunner of a chase. After being 133 for 4 in pursuit of 322 runs, Indian team had almost lost hope but Kedar Jadhav for the second time this week looked like doing the impossible as he scored a 75 ball 90 runs just before he fell to a mighty heave with 6 still required to win off 2 balls with the team already 8 wickets down. At the start of the 50th over of the Indian innings, India still required 16 runs and Kedar hammered a six and a four off the first two balls of the over to tilt the game in favour of India. England players surely would have had the memories of the T20 world cup finals come back in the heads, as they failed to defend 19 runs in the last over at the same venue against the West Indies with Carlos Brathwaite hitting four consecutive sixes off Ben Stokes. This time though they held their nerves as Chris Woakes managed to keep the next four deliveries scoreless, including the prized wicket of Jadhav. England got home with 5 runs but lost the 3 match series 2-1.
Earlier India had won the toss and chose the field keeping in mind the dew factor. The pitch had some grass on it and helped the Indian fast bowlers initially but England openers Jason Roy and Sam Billings managed to keep them at bay as they scored the highest opening partnership (98) for either side in this series. Roy scored his third consecutive half century in the series and looked impressive again before falling to Jadeja again for the third consecutive time in this series. The English top order namely Roy (65), Billings (35), Bairstow (56) and Morgan (43) played well to lay a suitable platform for Ben Stokes (57* off 39 balls) and Chris Woakes (34 off 19 balls) to blast away in the final overs to help England reach a mammoth total of 321 runs for the loss of 8 wickets. Hardik Pandya bowled well in the middle overs and finally gave away just 49 runs in his 10 overs and picked up 3 vital wickets.
For India, Ajinkya Rahane had replaced Shikhar Dhawan in this match but could not do much as he was bowled by England left arm pacer Willey in the 2nd over of the Innings after scoring just a solitary run. KL Rahul followed soon as he perished to a mistimed pull shot for just 11 runs. India skipper Virat Kohli did what he does best and kept the scorecard rolling with Yuvraj Singh with a partnership of 65 runs for the third wicket, but against his character today, Virat failed to convert his knock into a bigger one as edged one to the wicket keeper after scoring 55 runs. Yuvraj looked good for his 45 runs but found the fielder at the mid wicket boundary off his famous pick up shot to leave India in trouble at 133 for 4. Jadhav and Dhoni started the rebuilding but once again a wicket fell against the run of play with Dhoni being caught behind for 25 runs. Jadhav was at the crease, looking good again but there was uncertainty at the other end as Hardik Pandya is not really known for spending much time at the wicket. The partnership began to move as England tried to close on but with every passing over, it began to grow stronger. Both Jadhav and Pandya started getting boundaries and in no time they had added 104 runs in 14 overs with both batsmen crossing their fifties. India were the favourites at this point of time but Pandya (56 off 43 balls) missed a straight one to find his stumps dislodged to give England a fresh hope. New man Jadeja scored a brisk 10 runs off 6 balls but his wicket tilted the match in England’s favour. Kedar Jadhav kept his end going as Ashwin too departed in search of boundaries. In the end, Jadhav’s heroic knock of 90 runs off 75 balls went in vain as India fell short by 5 runs.
The series went to India but it was way closer than the score line suggests. England batsmen played brilliant cricket and scored bucketful of runs. Both teams scored more than 300 runs in all three of their innings which is a record of sorts. Infact a total of 2090 runs were scored in this series which is a record for most runs a bilateral series of 3 or fewer matches. All 3 matches were well fought and went down to the final over each time not leaving much to choose between the two sides.
It was a series of various other milestones as well with Virat Kohli breaking the record of Sachin Tendulkar to become the highest centurion for India in ODIs in successful chases and also becoming the fastest captain in ODIs to score 1000 runs (17 innings). His teammate Ravindra Jadeja became the first left arm spinner from India to claim 150 ODI wickets.
England had lost the test series and even the ODI series before the start of this match to extend their losing streak on this tour. Today`s win, their first on this tour, will help boost their morale to come out firing in the T20 matches to follow.
Ben Stokes was the man of the match for his all round efforts and Kedar Jadhav was the find and the man of the series both.
England 321/8 (50 ov)
India 316/9 (50.0 ov)
England won by 5 runs