Pant hits maiden ODI ton, joins Pandya to seal England series
India chase down 260 with 7.5 overs to spare at Old Trafford to clinch the series 2-1.
With India on 72/4, England looked on top of their game after Reece Topley had dismissed Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli in quick succession. It seemed almost over for India. Almost because Rishabh Pant and Hardik Pandya were still at the crease. England were bowling difficult lines and chances of an Indian turnaround appeared low but Pandya and Pant diligently added 132 runs for the fifth wicket.
By the time Ben Stokes caught Pandya on 71, India were just 55 away from the target. But Pant by then was on top gear as he hit five boundaries in an over by David Willey after reaching his maiden hundred to guide India to a five-wicket win in the third and deciding ODI at Old Trafford.
India won the series 2-1, having won the T20s by the same margin.
With a brilliant 4/24, Pandya again showed why he is so invaluable to the white-ball setup. And Pant’s hundred (125* - 113b, 16x4, 2x6) came just when doubts were being raised about his white-ball legacy. The real concerns have still not been addressed though. Barring the unbeaten 114-run opening stand in the first ODI, nothing really worked for India. Dhawan was drawn into driving a good-length ball but the bat turned in his hand. Sharma was not fully committed to fronting up to an angled delivery leaving him and he ended up edging Topley to Joe Root at first slip. That back of the length deliveries can consistently be a worry was again accentuated by Suryakumar Yadav’s dismissal—edging Craig Overton to Jos Buttler behind the stumps trying to defend. Most predictably disappointing though was how Virat Kohli again dangled the bat out to a delivery angled across to be caught behind, after perfectly positioning himself for a good score with a 22-ball 17.
Considering England had defended 246 in the second ODI, 259 looked more than reasonable this time. But a distinct lack of will to play out 300 balls meant England also had failed to score 300 or above in a home ODI series where they batted first at least once for the first time since the 2015 World Cup. India’s bowlers, on the other hand, again gave a good account of themselves by dismissing the opposition for the seventh time in a row.
Jasprit Bumrah wasn’t available due to back spasms but Mohammed Siraj didn’t let that absence grow on India with a brilliant double-wicket maiden after he got Jonny Bairstow and Joe Root in his opening over. Jason Roy took time to open up but once Ben Stokes joined him, England were buoyed by a 54-run stand till Pandya lured them with the short delivery. Buttler though was in IPL mode, willing to concede dots and dig in really deep till he was ready to launch his offensive.
Yuzvendra Chahal however stymied that effort with his persuasive lengths till Jadeja ran hard to catch the England captain brilliantly off Pandya’s bouncer. Liam Livingstone too had been sent back in the same over but England batting extraordinarily deep meant they found David Willey and Craig Overton add 48 for the eighth wicket, till Chahal took them out with drifters that they holed out.
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