Dhoni finishes off England in third ODI against India
India 157-3 (28.1 overs) beat England 155 (42.2 overs) by seven wickets
Saturday 19 January 2013
Hometown hero Mahendra Singh Dhoni hit the winning runs on Ranchi's big day as England's batsmen floundered for the second time in a week.
The unfashionable cricketing outpost was hosting its first ever international fixture and 39,000 rapt fans saw the local boy pull Steven Finn for four to ensure a fairytale seven-wicket win.
Dhoni's arrival at the crease came late in the game and his most telling contribution came when he won the toss and asked England to bat first, a decision that found the tourists in dire form as they slumped to 155 all out.
That was three fewer than they managed in defeat at Kochi and was never likely to be enough as Virat Kohli made a commanding 77 not out in a chase that lasted on 28.1 overs.
And while England have plenty of problems to ponder, the day belonged to the India captain, who followed the script perfectly when he despatched Finn to long leg to finish unbeaten on 10.
With such a small total, it was all or nothing for England in the field and Finn got them going with a wicket in his second over, beating Ajinkya Rahane for pace and uprooting his off stump.
A strong lbw shout against Kohli off the next ball followed but umpire Sundaram Ravi was unmoved.
Gautam Gambhir was getting on better, taking four off Jade Dernbach's third ball and taking smart singles.
Runs were precious for England so when Kohli hit three consecutive boundaries off Dernbach in the sixth over, it was a hammer blow.
Tim Bresnan replaced Dernbach and saw his first ball stroked through the covers by Kohli, as the total reached 48 for one after 10 overs.
Kohli mis-cued four more off a Finn bouncer to bring the target into double figures, but back-to-back maidens from Bresnan halted the charge.
A second wicket followed in the 18th over, the increasingly reliable James Tredwell having Gambhir caught at mid-on for 33 with his ninth ball.
Yet India were in no danger, Kohli ramming home the point when he thrashed Bresnan for his eighth four.
His half-century came up in 58 deliveries and for his next trick he lifted Tredwell down the ground for the first of two sixes off the spinner.
Yuvraj Singh had freedom to play his shots and zeroed in on Dernbach, whose second spell of two overs cost 25.
Tredwell bowled Yuvraj for 30 to give the home fans exactly what they wanted: Dhoni in the middle and just 12 needed.
He did not disappoint.
He was off the mark with a straight four - via a ricochet off the stumps - and then took on Finn's bouncer for the winning boundary.
Earlier in the day, England's innings got off to a faltering start and never fully recovered.
Bhuvneshar Kumar and Shami Ahmed bowled with good control to restrict the score to 36 in the 10-over powerplay, with the latter adding the scalp of captain Alastair Cook (17) for good measure.
Ian Bell, who had scored just one off his first 18 deliveries, was briefly energised by Kevin Pietersen's arrival and the pair momentarily provided cause for optimism.
Each hit successive boundaries to improve a modest scoring rate but were prised apart in the 15th over when Ishant Sharma dubiously had Pietersen caught behind for 17.
There was no obvious edge, with Pietersen's exaggerated reaction and slow departure leaving no doubt as to his opinion.
There was no doubt three balls later when Bell reached to cut Kumar and provided a sharp catch for Dhoni at the wicket.
Joe Root and Eoin Morgan needed a big partnership if England were to compete but it did not materialise.
Morgan faced 30 balls and added 10 before he was tempted to aim a reverse sweep at Ravichandran Ashwin, botching the stroke and handing Yuvraj a simple catch.
Root had seemed composed at the other end, hitting a couple of early boundaries, but could do nothing about England's woeful position when Craig Kieswetter and Samit Patel fell to Ravindra Jadeja within seconds of each other.
Both made ducks and both failed to pick Jadeja's arm ball as India snared three wickets in nine balls.
At the halfway stage England had limped along to 98 for six.
Root and county colleague Bresnan spared some shame with a diligent seventh-wicket stand of 47, the best of the innings, before the batting powerplay parted them.
Root had lasted 57 balls and hit four boundaries before he nicked Sharma to the tumbling Dhoni and England scored just 10 more after his dismissal.
Bresnan made a creditable 25 before he received the surprise of the day, a fierce turner from Ashwin that darted between bat and pad and left the Yorkshireman bemused.
Finn and Dernbach were then mopped up with minimal fuss as 7.4 overs went unused.
Dhoni's moment of magic was still to come but the result had already been decided.
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