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Ian rings India's Bell as England romp to 7 wicket win in Dharamsala

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England registered a morale boosting 7-wicket win in the final ODI of the series at Dharamsala to reduce the deficit to 2-3. Some excellent bowling by England's new ball bowlers, Steve Finn and Tim Bresnan, set the visitors on their way by reducing India to 49-4, before a battling half-century from Suresh Raina, his 7th in 11 innings, helped India post a below par 226 runs for England to chase. Ian Bell led the way for England with the bat, making an unbeaten 113 to lead his side to a comfortable win with India's bowlers never really threatening to turn around the contest.

England won a good toss and opted to field in what was the first early start of the series. The decision proved to be a masterstroke for England as they struck thrice in the first 7 overs to reduce India to 24-3.

Tim Bresnan struck twice in as many deliveries in his 2nd over, removing Rohit Sharma for 4 and Virat Kohli for a golden duck with both men caught at second slip, attempting to drive on the up. Sharma's credentials as an opening batsmen still need to be proved, and one innings doesn't make him the solution to India's woes at the top of the order. It will be interesting to see if he is persisted with against Australia. Kohli meanwhile played an appalling stroke considering he had just come to the crease and was obviously not paying attention.

Yuvraj Singh was the next to go, caught at backward point off Steve Finn, off the leading edge. Yuvraj's record at no.4 continues to be a concern, with this writer truly believing he lacks the technical ability to bat that high up in the Indian order.

Gautam Gambhir and Suresh Raina added 25 runs for the 4th wicket before Gambhir fell for 24 to another loose shot, failing to keep his attempted cut off James Tredwell down, the off-spinner once again striking in his first over.

Raina found a new partner in skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni and the duo added 30 for the 5th wicket before Dhoni was given out leg before to the returning Steve Finn for 15. It was a 50-50 call with Finn's height quite likely to take the ball over the stumps. India were in trouble at 79-5, and fortunate that Raina was still at the crease, having been dropped in the slips off Chris Woakes when he had just 5 to his name.

India desperately needed a partnership and got one from Raina and Ravindra Jadeja, who added 78 for the 6th wicket. The runs came at a decent pace too to dig India out of a hole. Raina though continued to live a charmed life, dropped off consecutive deliveries first by Alastair Cook and then the bowler James Tredwell, the second of those though was a near impossible chance.

Jadeja threw his wicket away in the powerplay, trying to accelerate the scoring, giving Tredwell the charge, but skewing the ball straight to a fielder in the ring on the off-side. He contributed a handy 39, but India really needed him to bat through till the 45th over at least.

Raina missed out on a century, also attempting to clear the in-field, but failing to beat midwicket. He made 83 and fell in the 42nd over, again a poor choice of shot given India still had 8 overs to bat.

India were in trouble at 177-7, but the tail wagged industriously with Ravichandran Ashwin making 19 and Bhuvneshwar Kumar chipping in with 31 from just 30-balls to take India through to 226. The hosts were bowled out in the last over with just 2 balls left.

Tim Bresnan ended with 4 wickets, while Steve Finn and James Tredwell were both exceptional, finishing with 2-28 and 2-25 from their 10 overs respectively. Tredwell in particular had been spectacular all series, ending with 11 wickets from the 5 matches, at an average of just over 18.

England's response with the bat was a very streaky one at the start of their innings with a flurry of edges evading either the stumps or the close in fielders. In between there were some sublime backfoot drives played by Ian Bell, and a couple of good shots by Alastair Cook which kept their date with the cover boundary. Crucially, the England openers had managed to see off the threat of the new ball, and posted 42 runs in the powerplay.

India finally got the breakthrough their effort thus far had deserved with Alastair Cook losing his middle stump to Ishant Sharma, bowled for 22 in the 12th over. India pulled the scoring rate back after Cook's dismissal and snuck in some quiet overs. The pressure paid off as Kevin Pietersen attempted to break free and threw his wicket away to Shami Ahmed, caught in the deep on the leg side for 6.

It was England's turn to need a partnership and they couldn't ask for two cooler heads that Ian Bell and Joe Root. The former continued to bat in his nonchalant style, playing every delivery on its merit and taking time to play his side into a winning position, while the latter despite being new to the international game looked as calm and composed as a veteran with a 100 games under his belt.

Runs came slowly initially, but the duo chose which bowlers to target, while also waiting for lose balls to put away. Jadeja, who has been the main man for India all series, was treated with due respect, while Yuvraj was shown disdain, smashed for 15 in his 2 overs. Ashwin's need for continuing to experiment meant that he would deliver a 'four-ball' every other over, and the batsmen cashed in.

Bell and Root added 79 for the third wicket and looked poised to take England to victory before Jadeja brought India back into the game by rattling the youngster's furniture. Root was uprooted for 31, going for an uncharacteristic heave across the line.

India needed some quick wickets to keep them competitive in the contest, but England continued to be prepared to bide their time. Eoin Morgan played himself in while Bell made sure that there was no cause for alarms at the other end.

With England needing 53 from the last 8 overs it looked like we could be in for a close contest, but the visitors had timed their chase perfectly taking 26 runs from the next 3 overs to end the match pretty much as a contest.

Morgan took the opportunity to convince the selectors of his value in this format after an indifferent series with the bat. The Irish-born left-hander smashed 3 sixes to hasten the end of the innings as England romped home by 7 wickets with a little under 3 overs to spare.


England: Alastair Cook (c), Ian Bell, Kevin Pietersen, Joe Root, Eoin Morgan, Jos Buttler (wk), Samit Patel, Tim Bresnan, James Tredwell, Chris Woakes, Steven Finn.

India: Gautam Gambhir, Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, Yuvraj Singh, Suresh Raina, MS Dhoni (c & wk), Ravindra Jadeja, R Ashwin, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Ishant Sharma, Shami Ahmed.

Mini Scorecard:

India 226 all out (49.4 overs, 4.55rpo)

S Raina 83 (98) T Bresnan 4-45

R Jadeja 39 (65) J Tredwell 2-25

England 227-3 (47.2 overs, 4.79rpo)

I Bell 113* (143) R Jadeja 1-26

E Morgan 40* (40) I Sharma 1-37

England win by 7 wickets with 16 balls to spare