India v England: Ranchi hero Dhoni fires hosts to seven-wicket victory
India v England: Local hero Mahendra Singh Dhoni hit the winning runs as the hosts win by seven wickets. Harry Kemble reports
Mahendra Singh Dhoni hit the winning runs in his home stadium as India beat England by seven wickets in the third one-day international in Ranchi.
Dhoni, had not played in his hometown since making his international debut nine years ago and his pull through square-leg off Steven Finn ensured he could celebrate in style in front his fans.
England suffered three mini-collapses to fall from 68-1 to 155 all out in another bitterly disappointing display, but for the 40,000 supporters who had tickets, there was only one thing that mattered – seeing their favourite ‘son’ in the flesh.
The fact that he scored the winning runs to give India a 2-1 lead in the five-match series merely enhanced his status as a local legend in these parts.
Earlier, Alastair Cook lost the toss and England were put in to bat, moving tentatively to 24, facing two adept seamers in Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Shami Ahmed, who showed that pressure, coupled with marginal movement, was a considerable force on this new wicket.
In the eighth over, Cook, trying to force the pace, managed to get caught in front for 17, leaving the umpire little choice but to raise the finger.
Ian Bell and Kevin Pietersen pushed the score to 68 before England collapsed again, with both batsmen gone in the space of four balls.
First, Pietersen was out caught behind for 17 off the bowling of Ishant Sharma. The 32-year-old certainly did not think he hit it, choosing to wait around a little longer than match referee Andy Pycroft may have liked.
Then Bell, on 25, nicked through to Dhoni off the bowling of Kumar, who bowled skilfully again up front for the hosts.
Clusters of wickets continued to fall when Eoin Morgan, Craig Kieswetter and Samit Patel were all dismissed in quick succession. This time England were in trouble at the hands of India’s spinners.
Pressure crept up on Morgan after he limped to ten off 30 balls, forcing him to reverse-sweep Ravichandran Ashwin to short fine leg.
Meanwhile, Kieswetter and Patel, both out for ducks, failed to read Ravi Jadeja’s trademark ball to leave England on 98-6.
Young Joe Root tried to re-build his side’s innings with Tim Bresnan as best he could before edging a Sharma delivery to Dhoni for 39, with England suffering another mini-collapse.
Bresnan was bowled through the gate by a superb Ashwin delivery. The off-spinner was bowling himself back into form, having taken two for 37 in his ten overs.
England’s innings were all over when Steven Finn was caught on mid-wicket boundary trying to slog-sweep Suresh Raina before, appropriately some might say, Jade Dernbach was bowled by Jadeja’s arm ball.
England got off to a great start when Finn snuck the ball through Ajinkya Rahane’s defence to leave India 11-1.
However, Gautam Gambhir and Virat Kohli kept India on course to win by taking advantage of some wayward Dernbach bowling, lifting India to 50-1.
Bresnan was tight in tandem with Finn, who looked to attack with two men back and a short-leg, but little threatened India chasing such a paltry score.
Tredwell managed to induce Gambhir into a rash shot when well set on 33 after he failed to clear Root at mid-on.
But Kohli was not fazed and he continued in the same vein, duly notching his 22nd ODI fifty passing 4,000 runs in the process in this format.
Only the great Sir Vivian Richards has been quicker to reach the 4,000 run landmark.
Yuvraj Singh supported the 24-year-old by bashing Bresnan over mid-wicket for a one-bounce four.
But Yuvraj was bowled by Tredwell for 30, allowing Dhoni the honour of being in the middle to see his team home.
There was little else England could do but stand and watch India’s captain treat his adoring fans to the perfect way to end the match.