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Team India survive Sam Curran blitz to clinch series 2-1

Virat Kohli and Shardul Thakur. Pic: BCCI
Virat Kohli and Shardul Thakur. Pic: BCCI
ANALYST
Modified 28 Mar 2021
News

A scintillating knock of 95 not out off 83 balls from Sam Curran gave Team India a massive scare in the final ODI in Pune. In the end though, they held their nerve to seal a thrilling seven-run win.

Curran was dropped on 22 by Hardik Pandya on the boundary and made Team India pay. England were 200 for 7 at one stage but Curran kept attacking the Indian bowlers. His brilliant clean-hitting brought the equation down to 41 from 24.

Curran then tore into Shardul Thakur in his last over. He slapped the pacer through cover for four and then thumped a six over long-on. The last ball of the over was slashed over cover for another four as 18 came off the over.

Thakur then dropped a simple chance to dismiss Wood at midwicket in the penultimate over by Hardik Pandya. On the next ball, T Natarajan dropped Curran at third man as Team India lost the plot and the batsmen ran two.

Natarajan bowled the last over with England needing 14 to win. The drama continued in the last over.

England tried for two off the first ball as Curran hit one down the ground. However, the left-hander slipped at the non-striker’s end and Mark Wood (14) ended up being run-out at the other end.

Natarajan held his nerve, finding the block-hole more than once, to ensure Team India sneaked home.

Earlier, a stupendous bowling effort by Team India pacers Shardul Thakur (4 for 67) and Bhuvneshwar Kumar (3 for 42) gave the hosts the advantage before Curran’s brilliance dragged the game till the very end.

England's innings got off to a dramatic start in their chase of 330. Jason Roy smashed three fours in the first over bowled by Kumar.

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The experienced Team India pacer, though, had the final say. He comprehensively beat Roy’s defense with one that nipped in as the ball crashed into the stumps.

Kumar made another big breakthrough for Team India, trapping the in-form Jonny Bairstow leg-before for 1. The England opener shuffled across the stumps and was hit in front. Given not out, Team India reviewed and the decision was overturned.

It could have been three for Kumar, but Hardik Pandya dropped a sitter from Ben Stokes at mid-off, when the left-hander was on 15. The all-rounder mistimed one and hit it straight up in the air, only for the fielder to make a mess of it.

Kumar’s loss proved to be T Natarajan’s gain. Having added 20 more to his score, Stokes guided a high full toss to Shikhar Dhawan at square leg.

Umpires checked for a waist-high full toss. Since the batsman had moved out of his crease, the decision went in Team India’s favor.

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England stand-in captain Jos Buttler’s horror run continued. He was again trapped lbw, this time by Shardul Thakur for 15 as he missed an incoming delivery from the medium-pacer.

Dawid Malan and Liam Livingstone kept England in the hunt with a fighting fifth-wicket stand of 60. However, on 36, Livingstone toe-ended a full toss straight back to Thakur.

Malan went on to register his maiden fifty, but perished immediately after, mistiming an attempted pull from Thakur to Rohit Sharma at short midwicket.

Kumar returned to claim his third and end Moeen Ali's resistance on 29. Hardik made up for his dropped catch by taking a good low catch at mid-off.

An eighth-wicket partnership of 57 between Sam Curran and Adil Rashid (19) gave England hope. It needed a brilliant one-handed stunner from Team India skipper Virat Kohli at cover to send Rashid back and give Thakur his fourth scalp.

Curran’s spirited knock though kept Team India on their toes until the very end.

Rishabh Pant top-scores with 78 as Team India post 329

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Rishabh Pant. Pic: BCCI
Rishabh Pant. Pic: BCCI

A brutal fifth-wicket stand of 99 between Rishabh Pant (78 from 62) and Hardik Pandya (64 from 44) took Team India to 329.

Earlier, India were asked to bat first once again after losing the toss. It was a topsy-turvy kind of innings for Team India.

The openers Dhawan and Rohit Sharma (37) added 103. It was their 17th century stand in one-dayers, with which they surpassed the Adam Gilchrist-Matthew Hayden duo (16).

Dhawan was impressive, hitting 10 fours in his 67. In the eighth over of Team India’s innings, he got three fours off Reece Topley, a punch driven between mid-off and short cover standing out.

He completed his second fifty of the series by slamming a hit-me ball from Rashid to the midwicket boundary.

The dangerous partnership was broken when Rohit Sharma misread a googly from Rashid to be clean bowled. Dhawan also chipped one back to the same bowler, off the leading edge.

Team India skipper Virat Kohli was bowled by Moeen for 7 as he got into a tangle against a sharp incoming delivery. Next, KL Rahul (7) guided a full toss from Livingstone to short fine leg, where Moeen took a diving catch.

From 103 for no loss, Team India found themselves in some trouble at 157 for 4. They recovered impressively as Pant and Hardik went on the attack.

Team India looked in command when Pant and Hardik were out in the middle. For the second game in a row, Pant hit an outrageous one-handed six, this time off Liam Livingstone’s bowling.

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Hardik then lashed Moeen Ali for three sixes in an over as Team India surged ahead. Pant reached his second half-century in a row, slogging Adil Rashid into the stands.

However, once they fell in quick succession Team India crumbled again. Pant again fell in the 70s, caught behind off Sam Curran for 78.

Hardik reached a 36-ball fifty but got out on 64, shuffling across his stumps to lose his leg stump to Stokes. Thakur blasted three sixes in his 30 before his dismissal triggered another Team India collapse.

The late collapse left one wondering whether Team India were a few runs short. Thakur and Bhuvneshwar, though, made up for the missed runs with a proficient bowling effort.

Published 28 Mar 2021, 22:54 IST
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