Virat Kohli posses with the trophy after India won the final ODI match against England, at Eden Gardens in Kolkata, and sweeped the series 5-0. (AFP)
A whitewash it was. A reminder of the dominance the world champions enjoy at home.
Two significant phases --- where England had the upper hand --- during the last and final encounter at the Eden Gardens on Tuesday had threatened to challenge that Reign of Blue. Two brief phases of Indian brilliance helped regain whatever ground was lost. A 95-run victory for India, which sealed a 5-0 series win at this historic venue by Mahendra Singh Dhoni's up and coming stars, was an apt gift to the country of bruised and battered egos after the English summer.
Steven Finn's two wickets --- that of Gautam Gambhir and Virat Kohli's --- in one maiden over had pushed India back early. As a result, the hosts managed just 10 runs in the bowling Powerplay where they lost three wickets. In the batting Powerplay, they managed just 19 and lost one wicket. At one point, India posting anywhere around 240 looked a daunting task. Dhoni's destruction with the willow took the total to 271. England were back to where they had begun the match --- on the back-foot.
Then, an opening stand of 129 at over a run-a-ball between skipper Alastair Cook and Craig Kieswetter made the half-empty Eden stands fall silent. The Duckworth-Lewis 'par score' flashed 80 runs after 20 overs on the giant screen. England were well ahead on 125 for no loss and the crowd was losing hope.
One ball from Varun Aaron that kept slightly low to take Cook's off stump on the way, triggered a collapse that even Dhoni might not have predicted. Cook must have seen something in the wicket when he won the toss and sent India in to bat. It was not grass, of course. But it could be due to the overcast conditions when the match started and the England think-tank must have fancied their chances chasing with Duckworth and Lewis in tow. But the rain did not come.
On the flip side, an already sluggish wicket got slower. It began to grip and turn viciously midway into the second session. And from 129 for no loss in the 21st over to 176 all out proved Cook had got it wrong once again.
Ravindra Jadeja bagged four, R Ashwin took three and even part-time bowler Manoj Tiwary got one in a span of 26 overs of spin that Dhoni offered the visitors in their innings of 37 overs.
Third clean sweep
This was India's third clean sweep in a five-game series. The previous ones were against England (2008) and New Zealand (2010). India also moved to third in the ODI rankings table, having started the series at fifth spot.