India take series with third straight win
India 258 for 5 (Raina 89*, Rohit 83) beat England 257 for 7 (Cook 76, Pietersen 76, Root 57*, Jadeja 3-39) by five wickets
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
England fought hard to assemble a respectable total on a cold, wintry day in the Punjab, but when the fog cleared the view was a familiar one: another defeat in a one-day series in India. India's pursuit of 258 was far from trouble free, but a winning margin of five wickets with 15 balls to spare was emphatic enough and left them 3-1 up one to play.
Instead of a dead rubber in ODI in Dharamsala, in the foothills of the Himalayas, England would be forgiven for fancying a spot of skiing, but sadly for them the weather forecast is improving and only the cricket is going downhill. A record extended to 18 ODI defeats in their last 20 in India is proof of that.
It might have been different had England not fallen again to the curse of Steven Finn's knee. When Finn thought he had Suresh Raina caught by Alastair Cook at first slip, India still needed 80 from 89 balls with what would have been five wickets intact. But Finn's recalcitrant right knee had collided with the stumps again and umpire Steve Davis invoked Law 23, ruling that Raina had been distracted. Cook's protests that Finn was entitled to a warning went unheeded.
Raina, in blissfully enterprising mood, took advantage of his let-off. Only Finn and James Tredwell demanded much respect. Tim Bresnan was despatched with ease, Joe Root's callow offspin routinely picked off, and when met by Jade Dernbach's circus act, Raina was the ringmaster. His unbeaten 89 from 79 balls guided India to victory with such comfort it passed almost unnoticed.
The story of this series has been one of growing India dominance. MS Dhoni has looked as impregnable in one-day cricket as he seemed flawed in the Test series. After England's win in the opening game in Rajkot, fuelled by a late batting assault from Samit Patel, India's batsmen dominated in Kochi and Ranchi and when they got the benefit of an influentiual toss in Mohali, their quick bowlers accepted it with alacrity. They beat England in English-style conditions, although they did have the better of them. As for Ravindra Jadeja, India will be more convinced than ever that they have a player who can balance their one-day side.
India's run chase was a personal triumph for Rohit Sharma, whose selection ahead of Ajinkya Rahane as a replacement opener had not possessed obvious logic on a seam-friendly morning, but who took advantage of easing conditions to move on from a lean run of form which had brought eight single-figure scores in his last nine innings. Rohit burst ahead after reaching his fifty, addressing Tredwell's threat in the process, and had 83 from 93 balls when Finn won a fortunate lbw decision for a delivery slipping down the leg side.
On another day of fallible umpiring, Gautam Gambhir was adjudged caught at the wicket, carving at a wide one and left with a look of unfeigned surprise that the umpire thought he had hit it.
Virat Kohli was gently removed by Tredwell, not as much dismissed as quietly informed that he would take no further part in the game. In the calming manner of a hospital consultant, Tredwell's entire demeanour is designed to allay fears. "Good morning, Mr Kohli, do relax, there is nothing to worry about." But there was and by the end of his first over, Kohli had chipped a gentle return catch as if half-anaesthetised. There must have been some dip, or subtle change of pace, but you could study innumerable replays and struggle to discern it.
Tredwell claimed a second wicket when he defeated Yuvraj Singh's sweep, dismissing him for the fourth time in the series.
England could ill afford to allow let-offs in the field, but both Kohli and Rohit survived half chances. Rohit, on 12, drove Tim Bresnan high to mid-off where Kevin Pietersen leapt to palm the ball in the air with his right hand but failed to locate it as it fell. Kohli was 2 when he pulled at Finn and the ball fell between the wicketkeeper, Jos Buttler, and Bresnan at fine leg.
Buttler was running backwards for a catch which could not have fallen more inconveniently had Kohli marked the spot with a cross, but he was a stand-in wicketkeeper for Craig Kieswetter, and an inexperienced one at that, and it was natural to wonder whether a more experienced keeper would have been more assertive.
India's pace attack made impressive use of a good fast-bowling morning after Dhoni had won the toss. Bhuvneshwar Kumar conceded only 30 runs in a probing 10-over allocation delivered without interruption and Ishant Sharma was as dangerous as at any time in either Test or one-day series.
Alastair Cook's methodical half-century was an appropriate response, but his demise, lbw to a ball from R Ashwin that pitched well outside leg stump was another rum decision. Umpires drawn from outside the elite panel, plus the absence of DRS, equals a greater likelihood of error wherever a game is played.
There was 76, too, from Pietersen, but it was a more fretful innings delivered by a batsman anxious for the first shaft of sunlight. He was struck on the elbow as Ishant cut one back and narrowly escaped an lbw decision in the same over when he just got outside the line. He needed 13 balls to get off the mark; 33 to find the boundary, an authoritative straight drive against R Ashwin.
He was illuminated only briefly, muscling Ishant over midwicket for six, but he got an excellent yorker in response as Ishant ensured that for once his bowling figures were not damaged by bowling at the most pressing times.
Cook, for all his frustration at his dismissal, had provided a solid layer, but England's cause was not helped when they lost Eoin Morgan and Patel in quick succession.
Morgan has had a poor series in a country in which, with IPL in mind, he was anxious to advance his reputation. He drove Ashwin weakly down the ground and only reached Yuvraj at mid-on. Patel was promoted to No. 5, presumably with the approaching batting Powerplay in mind, but he made a single in 10 balls when he chipped a return catch to Ravindra Jadeja. Patel stalked off; he has done more stalking off recently than is good for him.
England rallied with 100 from the last 10 overs, energised by Joe Root's maiden ODI half-century, 57 not out from 45 balls, after he had been dropped off Ishant by Kohli at slip. Throughout the winter, in all three forms of the game, Root has proved more adaptable than perhaps even he had expected. His cricketing intelligence is one of his greatest assets.
He should also have fallen on 42, a slog sweep against Jadeja bringing a comical drop by Raina at midwicket. Jadeja's left-arm slows have disturbed England throughout the series. The dismissal of Buttler and Bresnan in his final over left him with 3 for 39.
A paragraph on Suresh Raina, accidentally deleted, was reinstated in this report on January 24
David Hopps is the UK editor of ESPNcricinfo