England lose nail-biting third ODI as India wrap up series
India win one-day series against England with two matches to spare despite 98 from Jonathan Trott
England lost a nail-biter in the third ODI at Mohali as India left it until the final over to seal the series, with a five-wicket win.
It was a heartbreaking way to succumb to defeat for the tourists after having put in a much improved performance from their previous two walkovers.
Alastair Cook again won the toss and for a second game in succession decided his unchanged side would bat first.
In Delhi, Jonathan Trott made a cavalier 30, but on a slow and low pitch he was more cautious after his captain had been removed early. It was clear Trott had set his mind on a long innings and the Warwickshire man batted as only he can, unfazed by the run rate.
His batting divides opinion. Many feel his slow scoring is a hindrance rather than a help in one-day cricket, despite his heavy weight of runs.
But others feel he is an important part of the line-up, anchoring the innings and allowing others to play more freely and without fear.
He was the latter this time as he combined with first Kevin Pietersen and later, and more destructively, Samit Patel as England built their innings.
Pietersen has been steadily improving on this tour and again bettered his last effort with a brisk 64 before falling to a harsh LBW decision off Ravindra Jadeja.
The signs are encouraging for Pietersen though, and after so much was written about his form he is slowly and surely turning it around.
But, like the rest of the England squad, he’s settled in too late to the Indian conditions meaning the big score that looks just around the corner will come in a dead rubber.
Much like Pietersen, Patel needed a performance sooner rather than later if he was to hold off the challenge of Scott Borthwick for the second spinner’s role.
England made the somewhat surprising decision to promote Patel to number six, ahead of Jonny Bairstow – and it was a risk worth taking.
Patel flayed a rapid 70* in 43 balls, his career best in an England shirt, to give England the impetus they needed at a crucial stage of the innings. All the while, Trott was quietly going about his business.
A player of quality is able to accelerate his innings and Trott has undoubted class. He was on 77 after 100 balls, well below ODI standard, but ended stranded on 98 not out from 116 as he and Patel helped set India their biggest challenge of the series, 299 to win.
England looked to be heading down a familiar road when Parthiv Patel and Ajinkya Rahane put on 79 for the first wicket. But Tim Bresnan again made the breakthrough, trapping Patel in front for 38.
One of Delhi’s heroes, Gautam Gambhir, showed good form again to rebuild with a classy 58, but on a slow pitch and with a good score on the board, England always had a chance of fighting back.
Fittingly, Steven Finn ignited the comeback. The Middlesex quick has bowled consistently in the 90s for some months now and had been the pick of the game’s bowlers. He struck to remove Gambhir and then Rahane in quick succession before Bresnan had Suresh Raina caught in the deep and suddenly India were 217-4.
However, the hosts have a luxury that many international sides can only dream of, MS Dhoni batting at number six. The skipper was faced with a run rate creeping up to 10 runs an over, yet he faced the challenge in his usual cool manner and guided his side home in the final over with two boundaries off the expensive Bresnan.
With two games remaining and just pride to play for, England may now start to test the younger players in the squad to give them valuable experience. Although, if the series so far is anything to go by the current XI could do still do with some as well.