Ajinkya Rahane’s maiden one-day international hundred set the seal on a crushing nine-wicket series-clinching win over England in the fourth ODI at Edgbaston on Tuesday. (Scorecard | Highlights)
Victory saw world champions India take an unbeatable 3-0 lead in the five-match series.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar took two early wickets, a double blow from which England never recovered, as they were dismissed for a meagre 206 featuring 67 — their first fifty of the series — from recalled all-rounder Moeen Ali.
Rahane (106) and Shikhar Dhawan (97 not out) then pulverised England’s attack in an opening stand of 183.
India gave their raucous fans, who accounted for some two-thirds of a 21,000 crowd, plenty to cheer with a blizzard of boundaries at the start of their run-chase.
Rahane hit four fours in five balls off James Anderson — the best an off-drive.
Left-hander Dhawan, who struggled for runs in India’s preceding 3-1 Test series defeat by England, then struck a superb straight drive off fast bowler Steven Finn.
The Middlesex paceman suffered more punishment when Rahane pulled him for six.
Even off-spinner Ali wasn’t spared, Rahane slog-sweeping him for his second six to complete a 60-ball fifty also including six fours.
Dhawan too went to fifty, off 57 balls, with a six when he drove Anderson straight back over the bowler’s head.
Dhawan followed up with a huge legside six, from a free hit, off recalled left-arm paceman Harry Gurney.
Rahane’s two off Chris Woakes saw him complete a first century in 33 matches at this level in 96 balls, with nine fours and four sixes.
But just when it seemed India would inflict England’s first home ODI defeat by 10 wickets, Rahane drove a Gurney full toss straight to England captain Alastair Cook at cover.
However, Rahane sealed an emphatic win with more than 19 overs to spare when he smashed Gurney for six.
This defeat meant England had now lost five of their last six ODI series.
– Kumar does the damage –
It was the first innings that proved decisive, with Kumar reducing England to 16 for two with two wickets in the fifth over on his way to a return of two for 14 in eight overs.
Fellow paceman Mohammed Shami followed up with three for 28 in 7.3 after India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni won the toss.
By the time No 7 Ali came in the damage had been done.
Only Joe Root (44) and Eoin Morgan (32), who put on 80 for the fourth wicket, also made significant contributions to England’s paltry total.
Whereas spin had proved the main cause of England’s undoing in 133-run and six-wicket defeats in Cardiff and Nottingham respectively, on Tuesday they were 23 for three before a slow bowler came on.
Kumar struck twice in four balls to remove both Alex Hales and Cook after India skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni won the toss.
Hales (six) was bowled by the first ball he received from Kumar when completely defeated by an inswinger.
Three balls later Cook (nine) cut Kumar low to Suresh Raina in the gully, making it 38 innings since his last ODI hundred.
Left-arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja who ended a promising partnership when Morgan turned him to Raina at leg-slip.
And 103 for four became 114 for five when Root carelessly top-edged a reverse-sweep off spinner Raina to debutant Dhawal Kulkarni, positioned for the shot, at short third man.
Ali pulled Ashwin for England’s first six, in the 37th over
Left-hander Ali then used his feet well against spin to advance down the pitch and drive off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin for an elegant straight six.
Ali completed a 37-ball fifty in style when he thrashed Raina over midwicket for six.
But his 50-ball knock ended when he was bowled, making room, by Ashwin.
This series, which marks the start of both teams’ lead-in to next year’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand, concludes at Headingley on Friday.