Hometown hero Mahendra Singh Dhoni hit the winning runs on Ranchi’s big day as England’s batsmen floundered for the second time in a week against India. The unfashionable cricketing outpost was hosting its first-ever international fixture — the third one-dayer in a five-match series — and 39,000 fans saw the local boy pull Steven Finn for four to ensure a fairytale seven-wicket win.
Back at No 1
India regained their No 1 spot in ODI cricket after South Africa lost to New Zealand in Paarl later in the day. Dhoni’s arrival at the crease came late in the game and his most telling contribution came when he won the toss and asked England to bat first, a decision that found the tourists in dire form as they slumped to 155 all out.
That was three fewer than they managed in defeat at Kochi and was never likely to be enough as Virat Kohli made a commanding 77 not out in a chase that lasted 28.1 overs. With such a small total, it was all or nothing for England in the field and Finn got them going with a wicket in his second over, beating Ajinkya Rahane for pace and uprooting his off stump. A strong lbw shout against Kohli off the next ball followed but umpire S Ravi was unmoved.
Runs were precious for England so when Kohli hit three consecutive boundaries off Jade Dernbach in the sixth over, it was a hammer blow. Tim Bresnan replaced Dernbach and saw his first ball stroked through the covers by Kohli, as the total reached 48 for one after 10 overs.
A second wicket followed in the 18th over, the increasingly reliable James Tredwell having Gautam Gambhir caught at mid-on for 33 with his ninth ball. Tredwell bowled Yuvraj Singh for 30 to give the home fans exactly what they wanted - Dhoni in the middle and just 12 needed. He was off the mark with a straight four and then took on Finn's bouncer for the winning boundary.
Earlier in the day, England’s innings got off to a faltering start and never fully recovered. Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Shami Ahmed bowled with good control to restrict the score to 36 in the 10-over powerplay, with the latter adding the scalp of captain Alastair Cook (17) for good measure.
Ishant Sharma claimed the vital wickets of Kevin Pietersen and Joe Root. Pietersen warmed himself up for a significant innings and in the 12th over hit Ishant for two consecutive fours. However, Ishant came back brilliantly to have his man caught behind for 17.
The batsman took a while before making his lonely walk to the dressing room. Root (39) after beating third man for a boundary off Ishant in the 37th over, perished to the lanky seamer when he played away from the body for Dhoni to hold on to the edge. Ian Bell and Tim Bresnan both contributed 25. However, India always looked in control with Ravindra Jadeja claiming three for 19.
England 155 all out in 42.2 overs (Ian Bell 25, Joe Root 39, Tim Bresnan 25; Ravindra Jadeja 3-19, Ishant Sharma 2-29, R Ashwin 2-37) lost to India 157 for three (Gautam Gambhir 33, Virat Kohli 77 not out, Yuvraj Singh 30; James Tredwell 2-29)