India v England, 3rd ODI, Kolkata January 22, 2017

Ben Stokes, Chris Woakes help England defend 321


England 321 for 8 (Roy 65, Stokes 57*, Bairstow 56, Pandya 3-49) beat India 316 for 9 (Jadhav 90, Pandya 56, Kohli 55) by five runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

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Chris Woakes pulled off the Kolkata grandstand finish that had eluded his team-mate, Ben Stokes, in last year's World T20 final, as he held his nerve in the face of a supreme onslaught from India's man of the moment, Kedar Jadhav, and delivered for England their first victory in India in eight matches and more than 10 weeks of touring.

The end, when it came, was anticlimactic to all but the 11 relieved Englishmen in the outfield, and their nerve-shredded dressing room. With 16 runs to defend, Woakes recovered from being slammed for six and four in the first two deliveries of the game's final over to chalk up four consecutive dot-balls, including the vital scalp of Jadhav for 90 from 75 balls, to seal a consolation win in the three-match ODI series.

It was a supremely hard-earned victory at the end of an extraordinary series that has featured a grand total of 2090 runs in six innings - a record for a three-match rubber. And England's effort was all the more impressive given that they lost the toss (and with it the chance to pace their innings against a measurable end-point) as well as one of their frontline seamers, David Willey, who had to withdraw from the attack with a shoulder injury after two overs.

However, thanks to another tapestry of hard-hitting cameos all down the order - from Jason Roy against the new ball to Woakes and Stokes at the death - England ended up with just enough runs on the board. And when 321 for 8 on a sporty seamer's surface equals "just enough", you know the format has entered a new dimension.

The foundations of England's victory were laid by the opening pair of Roy and Sam Billings, who was playing in his first match of the series after Alex Hales' withdrawal with a broken hand. From the outset, India's seamers found bounce and movement from a probing line and length outside off stump to force a naturally aggressive duo to sit tight for their opportunities.

Jonny Bairstow struck a brisk 56 to guide England's innings © AFP

To both men's credit, they did just that. Roy once again took the lead with his third fifty of the series while Billings played the holding role, contributing 35 to a 98-run stand that was only broken by the advent of the first drinks break.

Bairstow, a late replacement for Joe Root, made 56 from 64 balls to keep England ticking along in the middle over, while Morgan, a centurion in Cuttack, showed once again that he's rediscovered that pocket-battleship power that once set him apart among England one-day batsmen.

The return of Hardik Pandya threatened another decisive momentum swing, as he picked off both set batsmen, plus a slightly subdued Jos Buttler, in a brilliant six-over spell that proved both incisive and restrictive. England, however, no longer know how to stop attacking in the closing overs, and Stokes in particular served notice of his intention to banish the memories of his last visit to Kolkata. He finished unbeaten on 57 from 39 balls, with Woakes chipping in with 34 from 19, as England posted a total that would have counted as formidable in any series.

Nevertheless, having demonstrated the potency with the new-ball in defeat at Pune and Cuttack, the onus was on England's seamers to strike hard and strike fast in the most favourable conditions they had encountered all winter. And they should, by rights, have done so with the very first delivery, when Woakes was shown on replay to have grazed Ajinkya Rahane's glove with an off-stump lifter, but nobody thought to appeal.

Rahane, however, did not detain them for long. He had been brought in as a replacement for the out-of-sorts Shikhar Dhawan, but managed just 1 from six balls before being bowled by a big inswinger from the left-arm seam of David Willey. Willey, however, struggled with his line, conceding five wides in two overs before clutching at his shoulder and leaving the field for treatment, never to return.

His departure could have been a devastating blow for England in less conducive conditions, but fortunately their remaining four seamers closed ranks to good effect, allowing the spinner Moeen Ali to get through an impressive eight-over spell of Jadeja-esque pace and purpose that covered off Willey's remaining workload.

But India just kept coming. KL Rahul took a block-or-blast approach against the new ball, slotting a monstrous six over the covers in Woakes' first over before falling to a similarly aggressive wallop when Jake Ball entered the attack as Willey's replacement in the sixth.

Virat Kohli calibrated the conditions in his inimitably forensic fashion, and set about pacing the chase with his second half-century of the series. On 35, Ball at deep backward square dropped a clanger as Plunkett banged in a bouncer - a terrible miss from a fielder who clearly had too long to think about the stature of the man who had launched the ball his way - but for once such a let-off wasn't overly costly.

Kedar Jadhav camped on the back foot and waited for England to bang the ball halfway down the track © AFP

Unlike Pune and Cuttack, Kolkata kept on giving if the seamers were willing to bend their backs. And, in the 20th over, Stokes struck the big blow, luring Kohli into the drive with a bit of width outside off, for Buttler to complete a high take to his right as the ball kicked off the outside edge.

Yuvraj Singh kept India's innings ticking along for a while, climbing into a rare Moeen long-hop to batter a huge six over midwicket. But, on 45, he aimed in the same direction off the extra pace of Plunkett, and could only pick out Billings on the edge of the rope.

MS Dhoni, too, was a victim of that extra spring in the pitch, as he climbed into a drive against Ball to snick another flying edge to Buttler. However, before his departure, he had demonstrated that Plunkett's pace and bounce could work in India's favour too, when he top-edged a pull that sailed over the keeper's head for six. And Jadhav was in the mood to take that tactic and run with it.

With Pandya a slap-happy accomplice, India's sixth-wicket pair camped themselves on the back foot and waited for England to bang the ball half-way down the track. From a dicey scoreline of 173 for 5, they carved 104 runs from the next 83 balls, with a fusillade of boundaries to keep an asking rate of nine an over in constant sight.

Jadhav smashed Woakes for back-to-back fours in his eighth over before bringing up his fifty with a stunning back-foot smash over long-on off Stokes from 46 balls, but Pandya was the revelation on this occasion - connecting with ferocity regularly, not least with a duck-and-pull six over fine-leg off Plunkett that brought up his maiden ODI fifty from 38 balls.

A change of plan was needed as India brought the requirement down below fifty with five overs remaining, and Stokes once again delivered, finding a fuller inswinging length to beat Pandya's ambitious wipe across the line and bowl him for 56 from 43 balls. One over later, Jadeja was gone as well, caught in the deep by Bairstow, but not before he had slaughtered Woakes' fuller length for two of the hardest-hit boundaries of the night.

Jadhav toasted Woakes' final delivery straight down the ground, making it 16 off the over, and leaving India needing a very gettable 27 from the final three overs. Morgan responded by turning back to Stokes - the man whose death skills had deserted him so fatefully on his previous appearance at this venue, in last year's World T20 final.

This time, Stokes responded with skill and nerve, limiting India to four singles - one of them a harshy judged wide - in an over that also included the scalp of Ravi Ashwin, caught off a steepling top-edge as he tried, but failed, to take on the length ball just as Carlos Brathwaite had so triumphantly achieved nine months earlier.

Still Jadhav wasn't done, inside-edging another four past the keeper to keep India within reach, but a diet of low full-tosses from Ball kept his more aggressive intentions at arm's length to leave Woakes defending 16 runs from the final over of the night.

Cue Jadhav's most outrageous stroke of the night - an open-shouldered slam for six over wide long-off, to reduce the requirement to 10 from five, and revive agonising memories of Stokes' own implosion nine months earlier. When Jadhav followed up one ball later with another flat-bat for four over mid-off, Eden Gardens was ready for lift-off.

But Woakes and his captain Morgan weren't done yet, knowing full well that, at eight-down, one good delivery could still derail the chase. Instead, Woakes offered four, finding a consistently awkward length outside off that forced Jadhav to reach for his strokes. He reached, fatefully, with a drive into Billings' midriff at long-off, and with him went the game.

Andrew Miller is UK editor of ESPNcricinfo. He tweets @miller_cricket

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • gerry on January 24, 2017, 22:44 GMT

    @Sreeram83. All the bowlers have problems with a wet ball. Kohli chose to bat 2nd as Morgan would have also. Both for the reasons i mentioned before, the wicket was at its worst to bat on at the start of the match and dew in the evening. If you disagree with me then you're also disagreeing with Kohli as that was exactly what he said. Try to get a copy of the match and listen to kohli's comments.

  • cric on January 24, 2017, 21:41 GMT

    England finally won something in India. It was good to see India offering sporting pitches and not relying on spin all the time. Jadhav has turned out to be a good find on this tour. India should not play two spinners in Champion's trophy. Ashwin is not suited for shorter formats and his fielding also remains a liability. Yuvi and Kedar can share five overs between them while Jadeja can bowl his full quota. Rohit when fully fit would be the ideal addition to this already strong batting line up.

  • Sreeram on January 24, 2017, 16:34 GMT

    @GM47:- The reason Kolhi choose to bowl first is, his attack mainly depends on the 2 worldclass spinners whom India has, dew will make it difficult for spinners to grip the ball. Hence he wanted not to bowl in Dew. That does not mean that chasing on this pitch is easy with dew. This pitch acted different under dew.

    Irrespective of whether you agree with me or not. You have to appreciate the fact that India played to the strength of England by giving them a grass top pitch and almost manged to win without any help from seniors in the team. No subcontinent team has guts to give such a pitch to a visiting team. Can you imagine Eng dishing a spinning track for India?

    Frankly I expected India to give a slow low wicket like what they served NZ in 3rd ODI to go for a whitewash, but all through the series India gave Eng what best suits for Eng, a batting paradise. Still India managed to almost whitewash Eng. This is a great series win for India.

  • Shah on January 24, 2017, 3:52 GMT

    CRICFAN29802315: Had AFG & IRE got the same number of chances like IND they would have had much better record than overrated IND & IND's test status would have been revoked by now, no need to even talk about how BD records would be by then, at least they won't become the worst touring team like IND, you are talking about BD's test status?? What you think IND has become BD's god of cricket??? LoL you pay respect to BD cricket you also get respect in return

  • cricfan56403892 on January 24, 2017, 0:58 GMT

    if kohli not get hundred in chasing india will lost most of the times

  • gerry on January 23, 2017, 20:10 GMT

    @SREERAM83 ON JANUARY 23, 2017, 17:48 GMT """""@GM47 :- I believe Gavaskar knows better cricket than both of us. He said it clearly in pitch report that batting under dew will be tough on this pitch. He kept saying that every time the ball misbehaved when India was batting."""" If you want to quote comments made beforehand then Kohli himself said that he wanted to bat 2nd to avoid his bowlers having to bowl with the dew !! That's the Indian captain saying that !! Willey is a left hand swing bowler by the way :) Ask anyone that knows and you will find (even knowledgable Indian fans) will tell you that England had the worse of the conditions, even your Indian commentators said it during the game. Anyway it was a great game with England finishing deserving winners after batting & bowling under the more difficult conditions. India deserving to win the series.

  • Sreeram on January 23, 2017, 17:48 GMT

    @GM47 :- I believe Gavaskar knows better cricket than both of us. He said it clearly in pitch report that batting under dew will be tough on this pitch. He kept saying that every time the ball misbehaved when India was batting.

    The technicalities behind what Gavaskar said is - Dew will freshen up the grass on this pitch. Compared to other Indian pitches this one had nice shade of grass on them. Hence the behavior of dew will be different. Indian bowlers are more swing bowlers (Buvi mainly), hence it is natural that they moved the ball more than English on this wicket. English bowlers in this match are more hit the deck hard bowlers, hence they got the ball to climb up and get some nasty bounce here and there. On a pitch with such unstable bounce, it was sheer batting power from both the teams to post such a big total.

    As an Indian fan I am really happy that India batted when the conditions were tough and got a good practice.

  • Sreeram on January 23, 2017, 16:55 GMT

    Kedar has to work on his running between wickets. His inability to convert ones to 2s is the main reason he did not go for single in the last 4 bolls. Think about this, he has no ability to steal a 2nd run like Kolhi or Dhoni, so he has the option to score 1s or 4s or 6s. 1s is risky as Buvi could easily waste the next 3 deliveries without getting the bat on the ball. So 4s and 6s were the only option. Had there been Ashwin or Jadu on the other end, then Kedar would have taken a single, expecting a strike back. So this loss is directly related to Kedar's inability to run 2s.

    Also the line from wolks was very predictable, bowl as much wide as possible from the batsman. He should have walked more towards the offstump to challenge the bowler. But Kedar kept waiting for a shot ball to smack it that never came. Little bit more maturity and experience will change his approach in such situations. You need to predict what the bowler is trying to do. These things come with experience

  • gerry on January 23, 2017, 16:54 GMT

    @SREERAM83 """ India batted when the conditions were the toughest""" ARE YOU JOKING. England batted at the start when batting was difficult with the ball moving all over. did you not watch the game ?? Then England had to bowl with the dew factor. It's the bowlers that are affected by dew NOT the batters !!!!!!

  • Balasundaram on January 23, 2017, 16:08 GMT

    Though a dead rubber still good not digest the defeat by 5 runs after a fabulous innings by Kedar, another little master! First ball 4 followed by a 6, six runs needed in 4 balls. Should have tried one or two in the next ball thus rotating the strike. If that happened for a change Woakes couldn't have gotten those line of bowling to Kedar. Could have trusted Bhuvi for one single or a 2 at least. Then could have hit winning runs! Just a loud thought from a cric fan who never played cricket but watched many last over games. Had Dhoni been there he would have done that only and that had won many matches, losing a very few indeed. I for one still support such methodology knowing fully well that had earned more contempt from many fans against Dhoni. I am very sure Kedar will learn how to become a finisher in a crunch situation. Also I strongly condemn Aswin for that stupid shot. Being an experienced player he should have gone for singles only rotating the strike and let Kedar finish the job