England v India, 4th ODI, Edgbaston September 2, 2014

Rahane hundred caps crushing win


India 212 for 1 (Rahane 106, Dhawan 97*) beat England 206 (Moeen 67, Shami 3-28, Bhuvneshwar 2-14) by nine wickets
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

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Butcher: Batting with freedom helps India

As India marched to one of their most comprehensive victories against England, a third no-contest in as many matches giving them the series, about the only similarity between the teams was the blue of their shirts. India, the reigning world champions in this format, will need little introduction as one of the favourites for the 2015 World Cup in six months' time. England are struggling to find an XI to compete at home, let alone challenge in Australia and New Zealand.

MS Dhoni has captained with an easy panache since the return to limited-overs cricket and he again marshalled an impressive display after inserting England on a fresh morning in Birmingham. This was Dhoni's 91st victory as India ODI captain, breaking the record of Mohammad Azharuddin. Only one batsman had him momentarily ruffled, as Moeen Ali produced the first England half-century of the series, but it was a bit like a fart competing with thunder, to borrow Graham Gooch's phrase.

Having been set a modest target, India's batsmen set about exposing it as indecent. Ajinkya Rahane made his maiden ODI hundred during a stand of 183 with Shikhar Dhawan, a record opening partnership for India in England. Dhawan's unbeaten 97 was his first fifty of the tour, a flurry of blows helping to end the contest with almost 20 overs remaining.

Although the pitch flattened out, England's attack was made to look horribly blunt. India's openers tip-toed through the first four overs, scoring the same number of runs, before Rahane struck four sumptuous fours off James Anderson; Dhawan rattled three more from Chris Woakes' first over, taking them to 57 from ten. It was a clear case of the fours being with India.

And the sixes, too, both openers reaching their half-centuries by clearing the ropes. They hit four apiece, the most dismissive a front-foot pull from Rahane off Steven Finn. The sight of England's fastest bowler being treated so disdainfully by India's most diminutive batsman was one of a number of instructive passages. The video analysis will make painful viewing for Alastair Cook and Peter Moores.

If England were to take anything from their display, it would have been Moeen's batting. Moeen was brought in for his fifth ODI to fill the allrounder slot, with England keen for a more thorough examination of his credentials as a limited-overs spinner ahead of the World Cup. He proceeded to bat with greater dash and security than any of his team-mates during an innings of 67 off 50 balls.

After Joe Root departed attempting a reverse sweep that might have made Mike Gatting wince to leave England five down, Moeen struck the ball with a languid intensity, hitting three sixes - the only sixes of the innings. Such was his dominance, albeit brief in the context of the match, that Moeen clouted 43 out of a 50-run stand with Jos Buttler, nominally England's power hitter. His efforts lifted England to the bare respectability of 200 but the target scarcely gave much opportunity for his bowling to impress.

It was debatable whether India had found a new way to win or England a new way to lose. This time, the glissando of wickets came at the top and bottom of the innings, as England ended the Powerplay on 25 for 3 and then lost 4 for 12 in the final five overs. In between, India's spinners largely remained a lurking threat, although the way R Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja and Suresh Raina threw a blanket over the middle overs was proof that England had not suddenly discovered their pipe and slippers when it came to playing slow bowling.

Root has struggled to transfer his puckish energy into one-day cricket this summer but he at least did a job in repelling India's early broadside during an 80-run stand with Eoin Morgan. The pair managed to see off ten overs of spin before Morgan, having narrowly flicked wide of leg slip, picked out Raina in that position for a simple catch to give Jadeja his 32nd wicket against England - a tally he would increase to 33 in 17 ODIs.

England's approach tends to revolve around the proverbial best-laid plans but things went awry even before the toss, as they were forced to bring in Gary Ballance for Ian Bell, who was hit on the toe in the nets. Bell was later revealed to have a "small fracture" and will be assessed before the final ODI, at Headingley on Friday. That enforced change was the third from the XI at Trent Bridge, with Moeen and Harry Gurney also coming in for Ben Stokes and James Tredwell.

India, meanwhile, included the debutant Dhawal Kulkarni, who kissed the ball before his first delivery in international cricket, only to see it treated rather more roughly by Alex Hales spanking a half-volley for four. That was about as encouraging as it got, as England stumbled, bleary-eyed in the Birmingham sunshine.

India's fielders were certainly in the wide awake club, Raina and Rahane setting a fine example as Cook managed just a single from his first 15 balls, repeatedly thwarted trying to hit through the off side. After opening partnerships of 54 and 82, England this time lost Cook and Hales in the fifth over, as Bhuvneshwar Kumar located the moisture in the pitch that his captain had spied at the toss. In the previous two matches, this had been the one area where India had allowed England some respite.

The breakthrough did not require any outstanding India out-cricket, however, as Bhuvneshwar snaked his first ball to Hales past the inside edge and on to the stumps. It was a femme fatale of a delivery, curving back in seductively and leaving Hales dumbstruck as he looked for his favoured cover drive. Bhuvneshwar had already bowled 12 deliveries at Cook without conceding a run and he gilded his figures further by picking up the England captain, Raina intercepting a thick-edged chop at gully to end another laboured stay at the crease.

After Dhoni's travails in the Tests, both as captain and wicketkeeper, the extent of his comfort in limited-overs cricket was displayed by an instinctive, near run-out of Root, deflecting the ball with one glove down on to stumps behind him. Such was the hold he currently exerts over England, he could get away without asking Bhuvneshwar (8-3-14-2) to bowl a second spell. The batsmen then ran amok in approved style. It was fitting that such an assured display confirmed him as India's most successful ODI captain.

Alan Gardner is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @alanroderick

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Venky on September 4, 2014, 8:22 GMT

    I think it is about time India renounced their test playing status and focused on one dayers and T20s. These games are less straining for the cricketers and attracts better crowds and are enjoyable to watch. Cricketers get to make LOT's of money too .... which perhaps explains their good form in this format of game. As of today, I think there are only three proper TEST playing nations in the world, Australia, South Africa and England. New Zealand might come close but I doubt they can win away series

  • Dummy4 on September 4, 2014, 8:13 GMT

    Strangely not even one word of praise for Mohammed Shami who was maximum wickets taker and took three wickets with good economy rate.

  • Naresh on September 4, 2014, 6:22 GMT

    This last win has brought back smile to Indian fans. After the test series we were highly critical of our team. Slow starters seem to be norm with our team. For me the most significant change has been - RED to WHITE ball. Raina and Shastri have also lifted spirits. Rohit, Dhawan and Kohli are showing signs of return to form. They are good players and a sight to watch when in full flow. Rahane (Dravids favorite of the new bunch) has been the best - he has played at various positions successfully and also in the two formats. Of the bench players Sanju Samson and Rayudu wait. Bowling still lags behind and needs careful attention before the ODI wc.

  • Android on September 3, 2014, 21:42 GMT

    the headline should read as 20 overs to spare not 30.

  • Ashok on September 3, 2014, 20:58 GMT

    @ Sir_ Ivor: Welcome back! It is nice to read some words of wisdom in broader sense than read mostly "Mini Items" such as Red ball vs. White ball or the Aussie pace bowling strength. I agree 100% with you about Shastri's most dominant role in turning this Indian team into "Self Believers". You rarely see Dhoni talking to players one to one as an advisor or encourager. In fact once I saw Dhoni's tongue lashing at Pujara(shown on TV) when he brought drinks as a 12th Man! Shastri's approach is different. He grills those who are undisciplined & boosts those who are down to believe in themselves by providing them the mental strength. He corrects their defects by working with them either in batting, bowling or fielding. Dhoni does not have the personality to do this. Ravi took a team with 1-3 Test record & turned it topsy turvy with 3-0 ODI record. Indian Batting, Bowling & Fielding is like "Wold Beaters". If Shastri is with the team in Oz land he will find a way to WIN , he alone knows How!

  • John on September 3, 2014, 20:33 GMT

    @gomahajan on (September 3, 2014, 11:46 GMT) The 3 most regular posters from Eng on this thread - are myself , CodandChips and RU4RealNick. Personally - and I'm sure C&C/RU would be in agreement - I'm not reading too much into the test win vs India. India are known for being terrible travellers when it comes to test cricket especially in long series and it's up to you if you decline to accept your test team is pathetic but away results in recent years don't bode well for your arguments. I'd still say we are as far as ever from SA and now Australia in tests. Re ODIs/SFs - we are woeful right now and it is painful to watch. I want England to do as well as they possibly can in any format and it is really frustrating. I'm sure the 2 fans I mention will echo my views.

  • John on September 3, 2014, 20:33 GMT

    @Yevghenny on (September 3, 2014, 8:55 GMT) But KP wasn't playing in the KP way for some time before he was outed. I can't recall a switch hit etc for some time.

    @_-Will-_ on (September 3, 2014, 8:44 GMT) I don't think it's just an investment thing. In England's case , I find it bizarre how they go about things. They seem obsessively trying to make certain test players into ODI players and yet they end up resting test players from ODIs etc , so why not try the opposite and try and construct a team where you don't have to worry about resting players? But I'm with you in that there is no reason why a team shouldn't try to excel in all formats

  • ESPN on September 3, 2014, 15:35 GMT

    Not sure whether the world understands the economics of the cricket. BCCI earns more money that all other cricket boards combined. So whatever wins India has will get more footage in absolute number and economic terms. I am afraid that we have come to a situation that India keeps the cricket flowing. So if they don't want to participate in tests, it has a high chance of being extinct. IT'S A FACT. Period

  • Dummy4 on September 3, 2014, 15:32 GMT

    I saw both Rahul Dravid and Sachin tendulkar together in Rahane's innings. Enjoyed it.

  • Aniket on September 3, 2014, 15:26 GMT

    A comprehensive victory for India. It was good to see India excelling in all three disciplines of the game.

    There are a couple of reasons why this was a particularly pleasing win. One, the way fast bowlers set up the game by taking early wickets was beautiful. Two, after a long time, the opening partnership was a big one and despite a modest target, which they could have chased in a leisurely way, it was explosive like Sehwag-Tendulkar era. In this new era of ODIs, opening partnership have to be both significant and fast paced. They simply can't afford to sacrifice one for the other.

    In previous matches, both these areas were a matter of concern and it was good to see that India, despite big wins in previous ODIs, rectified their mistakes. This is a sign of a team willing to improve and hungry to win.

    For the last match India should test the bench strength. Umesh, Sanju, and Karn need to play. The batting composition looks settled for the WC, but the bowling lineup needs options.