India's tour of England ended in complete humiliation at the Swalec Stadium here on Friday. Nothing has gone right for the Men in Blue this summer, but their defeat in the fifth one-dayer must have surprised even the most pessimistic member of the side as they lost by six wickets with 10 balls to spare after posting their highest total of the tour, including Tests.
It meant India's best result of a disappointing tour was the tied ODI match at Lord's. The tour which began in the second week of July will easily rate among the most abysmal sojourns taken by an India team. This is the only time when they played all three formats of the game but failed to register a single win. Friday's loss after scoring 304/6 was India's third in the five-match series, where one match was rained off.
With the ignominious defeat, the world champions dropped to fifth in the ICC ODI Championship table while England climbed to No 4. It is India's lowest ranking since October 2008 when they spent three months at No 5. It summed up a miserable run for the visitors as England dethroned them from No 1 in the Test rankings as well.
The match exposed the limitations of India's bowling, spoiling Rahul Dravid's one-day farewell. This time they couldn't even hide behind the excuse of the elements conspiring against them as repeated rain intervals had made the task tougher for the England batsmen, who were left to get 241 in 34 overs under the Duckworth-Lewis rule. But the England batsmen displayed remarkable composure despite the mounting run rate. Needing to score more than seven per over, Alastair Cook & Co got the job done. To add insult to injury, it was 21-year-old debutant Jonathan Bairstow who put the Indian attack to sword with an unbeaten 41 off 21 balls (one four, three sixes).
Bairstow had been called as a last-minute replacement for Ben Stokes, who picked up a finger injury. His stunning success has given England another middle-order option ahead of the return series in India.
After Virat Kohli, Rahul Dravid and MS Dhoni helped India post 304 for six, the pressure was on England. Cook and Jonathan Trott set up the chase with half-centuries before Ravi Bopara and Bairstow hammered the final nail in the coffin.
The Indian batsmen had used their batting powerplay well but England did even better as they scored 42 runs in three overs. At the start of the powerplay, the hosts were 189 for four in 28 overs but Bairstow and Bopara went berserk. It didn't help India's cause that main bowler Munaf Patel limped out with an ankle injury midway through the game and Dhoni was forced to opt for Ravindra Jadeja, Vinay Kumar and RP Singh to bowl the three pressure overs. And all three fumbled against the England pair's assault. Bairstow smashed Jadeja and Vinay all over while Bopara took on RP, hitting him for a six and a four. Suddenly 10 runs were needed at the end of 31 overs and the chase turned into a cakewalk.
Brief Score: England 241 for 4 (Trott 63, Cook 50, Bairstow 41no) beat India 304 for 6 (Kohli 107, Dravid 69) by six wickets (D/L method)