India defeated England by five wickets in the fourth ODI to take an unassailable 3-1 lead in the five-match ODI series at the Punjab Cricket Association Stadium here on Wednesday. With the temperature hovering around the 13-degree Celsius mark in foggy Mohali, India reached the 258-run target in 47.3 overs, with Suresh Raina staying unbeaten on 89. Rohit Sharma (83) was the other big contributor for the hosts.
Earlier, England fought hard to reach a respectable 257 for seven with skipper Alastair Cook and Kevin Pietersen contributing 76 each. Knowing well that defeat would render the fifth and final game Dharamsala meaningless, the visitors fought till the very end.
The result could have been different had Steven Finn not knocked off the bails in the process of bowling to Suresh Raina with about 15 overs to go. India were still 80 runs away at that stage. Umpire Steve Davis immediately ruled it a dead ball. Raina accepted the lifeline gleefully and guided India home.
Kudos to the left-hander, but let’s also laud Sharma for his 83 at the top of the order. The Mumbaikar, picked in place of his Ranji teammate Ajinkya Rahane, displayed nerves of steel, scoring his first fifty in over 10 months and after six fruitless outings. Sharma played plenty of those horizontal-bat strokes in testing conditions to end his run drought on the big stage.
Earlier, MS Dhoni won the toss and elected to field. The breeze at noon helped India’s speedsters trouble the English batsmen in the first hour of play. Our pacers didn’t quite exploit the conditions, but kept beating the batsmen at regular intervals.
Skipper Cook, in particular, looked more comfortable than his mates. He tackled the trio of Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Shami Ahmed and Ishant Sharma methodically. He was finally dismissed by off-spinner R Ashwin. He was unfortunate to be given out to a delivery that pitched outside leg.
Pietersen and Joe Root were the others who got half centuries. Pietersen was a bag of nerves and spent many anxious moments against Bhuvneshwar and Ishant. In fact, he was also struck on the elbow by an Ishant in-cutter early on and took as many as 13 deliveries to get off the mark.
Bhuvneshwar was once again given eight straight overs and the Uttar Pradesh seamer kept prodding the batsmen with his in-swingers. But it was Ishant who outshone his colleagues with pace, bounce and movement on Wednesday. After removing Ian Bell for 10, he produced a peach of a yorker to send back danger man Pietersen.
Root then displayed his class and grit during a 45-ball 57, with eight fours and a six.