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Report: England vs India, 4th ODI

Ajinkya Rahane and Shikhar Dhawan seal series for India

Ajinkya Rahane’s maiden One-day international century and an unbeaten 97 by Shikhar Dhawan led India to a nine-wicket win in the fourth ODI. Outplaying England for the third consecutive time, India registered a bilateral ODI series win in England after 24 years.

With a 183-run opening stand, Rahane and Dhawan helped India gallop to the target after the bowlers set up the match in their team’s favour. With yet another comprehensive win, Dhoni became the most successful captain for India in ODIs.

Earlier, after MS Dhoni opted to bowl, Bhuvneshwar Kumar sent back the England openers in the fifth over as the visitors bid to seal the series. While the wiry pacer finished with 8-3-14-2, Shami claimed three to help restrict the hosts to 206. Debutant Dhawal Kulkarni was the only Indian bowler to return wicketless as India wrapped-up the hosts innings with three balls to spare. Kumar struck early to leave England on 16/2 at Edgbaston. While the pacer knocked off Alex Hales’ middle-stump and disrupted the woodwork with an inswinger, Alastair Cook hit him to gully where Suresh Raina snapped the catch.

Seven runs later, Shami who had been hitting the deck hard from his first delivery accounted for the wicket of Gary Ballance who had replaced Ian Bell in the side. Ballance, who had been in sublime touch during the Test series hit the ball to cover leaving the side on 23/3.

Joe Root and Eoin Morgan were then made to toil hard for runs by the Indians. Playing watchfully, the pair scrapped together an 80-run partnership to keep the team in fray. They took England past the 100-run mark but Ravindra Jadeja claimed Morgan to end the partnership. Root followed suit 11 runs later, handing Suresh Raina an easy catch to depart for 44.

Moeen Ali then came to the crease and injected life into the England innings. He found the gaps to collect singles and doubles and later began to go for the big shots at regular intervals as he stitched a 50-run stand with Joss Buttler. The flourishing partnership was however brought to an end by Mohammed Shami trapping Buttler leg before for 11. Moeen Ali though continued to keep the scoreboard ticking to reach a well made half century.

Ali though ran out of partners as wickets began to tumble at the other end. Chris Woakes was run-out off a direct hit from Suresh Raina and seven runs later it was Ali who had to take the long walk back to the pavilion after being castled by R Ashwin. Ravindra Jadeja and Mohammed Shami then knocked of the remaining two wickets as England folded up for 206.

India’s run-chase was cautious. Openers Ajinkya Rahane and Shikhar Dhawan looked intent to put up a big opening stand in India’s pursuit of 207. After a circumspect start, Ajinkya Rahane began to unleash himself on the England pacers. With just four runs from the first four overs, the opener struck Anderson for four breathtaking boundaries in the fifth over to collect 16 from it. There was no looking back for him from there on. While Shikhar Dhawan bided his time at the other end, Rahane kept the scorers busy with his elegant batting. The left-hand batsman too caught up; slamming Woakes to the boundary on either side of the wicket.

With the Indian openers pilfering runs off the England pacers, Cook introduced Moeen Ali into the attack but without much respite. Rahane later pulled Finn to get within six short of fifty and a bit later swept Ali across the boundary to reach 53. Dhawan, who hadn’t been amongst runs, lofted Anderson into the stands to bring up his half-century.

While Rahane led the onslaught, Dhawan too gleaned runs off the opposition as they posted India’s highest opening partnership against England in England. With a four off Woakes, Rahane surpassed his previous best ODI score and came within eight runs of a century. A bit later, with two runs down the leg side off Woakes, the youngster brought up maiden ODI hundred. However, in the next over he found the fielder at cover point to depart for 106.

Having found his nick Dhawan was at his destructive best as he dismissed the bowlers to the ropes. He helped claim 17 off Woakes including two boundaries and a six. The left-hand batsman then took the team across the finishing line with Virat Kohli in a 29-run partnership.

Man of the Match:
Ajinkya Rahane for his maiden ODI ton in a winning cause

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Work on my action paying off: Ashwin

India off-spinner says he has worked on making his action more front-on

After warming the bench for the first three Tests, R Ashwin came into India’s playing XI in the Manchester Test against England. After shaking off the rustiness in his comeback Test, Ashwin picked up three wickets in the fifth Test and repeated the feat in the third ODI to win the man of the match award.

On the eve of the fourth ODI, Ashwin revealed the work he has put into his action over the last two months and was pleased the results are finally showing.

“I think I have bowled well since the Oval Test. There has been a considerable amount of work that has gone into it; work of two months on trying to get my action right among other things. The results have just started to show,” Ashwin said.

Explaining the change he made in his action, Ashwin said he has tried to minimized the alterations he makes in it depending on the format, by making it more front-on.

“I used to make bigger changes in my action according to formats but now I try to make the changes as subtle as possible. I have had chats with my coach back home and we figured this action can be efficient in all formats. I am trying to get more front-on now to be more accurate and extract more from the wicket.

“It feels really fresh having worked hard. It is just about instilling a belief within me, which is quite easy for me when I am convinced about something. I was really convinced about what I was doing and persevered with it. It has helped me extract as much as possible from the wicket,” Ashwin said.

Talking about the way the Indian spinners – frontline and part-time – troubled the England batsmen at Trent Bridge in the third ODI, Ashwin said restricting the opposition in the middle-overs with spin is India’s strength.

“It is a comfortable situation for us,” he said. “It has been our strength in the last three-four years and we have always operated in that fashion. There are situations when the batsmen get going and we don’t get wickets and those are really hard times. If we get a wicket or two and put a stranglehold on the batsmen, it is a really comfortable domain for us.”

Ashwin also said that at least a couple of early wickets from the pacers make things more comfortable for the spinners, especially in overseas conditions.

“The ideal situation for the spinners to come on would be when the pacers have taken two-three wickets. That’s what happened in Cardiff when Shami bowled that spell and took two wickets. If that doesn’t happen, you will look to play a restrictive role. Especially when playing away from home, the initial breakthroughs can be very helpful for the spinners to play around with.”

India have looked a completely different unit in the field in the ODI series. While a number of catches went down in the Tests, especially in the slip cordon, the catching and ground fielding has been nothing short of brilliant in the one-dayers. It led Ashwin to acknowledge the fielders’ contribution for his wickets.

“At Cardiff Shami made a difficult catch look easy and in the last match Raina took a brilliant one. The moment he took that catch I forgot that I had got a wicket. I just went berserk seeing the way he caught it. It’s refreshing,” he said.

When asked the reason behind India’s contrasting show in the field in the Tests and ODIs, Ashwin said, “It is tough especially when things are going wrong with the team, which is how the Test series petered out for us. But with some fresh legs coming in with new attitude, it has helped.”