Bhuvneshwar Kumar, playing his first ODI in a year, produced a match-winning five-over second spell that yielded just 39 runs to help India edge out England by 15 runs in the second ODI in Cuttack on Thursday.
England's captain, Eoin Morgan, had won the toss and pressed India in to bat first on a batting-friendly surface. The prospect of evening dew meant that the tourists had the advantage as India's spin-dominated attack would struggle to grip a damp ball.
The ploy backfired, as India, fuelled by a career-best display from Yuvraj Singh, who belted 150, and MS Dhoni, who scored his 10th ODI ton, posted a mammoth 381 in their innings. The 256-run stand was the second highest fourth-wicket partnership by an Indian pair in ODIs. Only Mohammad Azharuddin and Ajay Jadeja's 275-run stand at the same venue against Zimbabwe in 1998 is higher.
England required to score at over seven from the onset to keep the ODI series alive. Dew, a placid batting surface and a strong opposition batting unit meant that India's bowlers had the odds stacked against them. Opener Alex Hales set the tone early and plundered three boundaries in the first three overs before Jasprit Bumrah induced an edge from Hales and dismissed him. Jason Roy and Joe Root dropped anchor and scored briskly to help their side post 66 runs in the first ten overs.
When the seamers failed to make more inroads, Virat Kohli - India's captain - turned to his spinners, and despite the damp conditions they didn't disappoint. R Ashwin dismissed the dangerous Joe Root in the 20th over for 54 and Roy fell to Ravindra Jadeja in the 27th over for 82.
England was 254-runs adrift from the total with 30 overs remaining and they looked to their powerful middle order - comprising of Morgan, Ben Stokes and Jos Buttler, to fuel the chase. A clever display from Ashwin though foxed Buttler and Stokes who fell cheaply. All was not lost yet for England as Morgan joined forces with Moeen Ali and the duo set about lifting the tempo. They were particularly ruthless against Hardik Pandya and Kedar Jadhav and plundered 93 runs for the sixth wicket that guided England to 299 by the 43rd over.
Kumar' introduction into the attack in the 42nd over made England's job more difficult. He yielded just eight runs in his first over, when the required rate hovered at over 12. He could have had a wicket, too, had Jadeja held a skier from Ali at long-on. In his next over, he conceded only three singles and bowled Ali, who had clobbered back-to-back fours of Jadhav an over earlier. England required 82 from 32 at that stage and Morgan was left with the tail. His departure in the 49th over - after reaching his hundred - put an end to hope of an England win. Kumar had conceded just 6.30 runs an over and finished with figures of one for 53 in his ten overs.
"Getting 381 from 25 for 3 was outstanding. We knew we'd get wickets at some stage or the other but we bowled at the more difficult part of the day. The guys showed really good character. We pulled it back nicely in the end. Having won the series, just before the Champions Trophy, the key will be for us to express ourselves and work out what is the best opening partnership," Kohli said.