With scores of 5,0,0,4,4,4 in his last six One Day Internationals, Rohit Sharma's confidence levels ahead of the ODI against England on Wednesday were at rock-bottom. But Sharma put his lean patch behind him to produce a match-winning 83 and helped his side take an unassailable 3-1 lead in the five match series.
Having put England in to bat, India's bowlers struggled to draw first blood with openers Alastair Cook and Ian Bell scoring briskly. After the latter's departure, Kevin Pietersen joined his captain to put on a 95-run stand for the third wicket.
England's stubborn resistance, combined with a steady run-flow, helped them scale 257 in their fifty overs. India turned to Sharma to partner Gautam Gambhir after Ajinkya Rahane had failed to cement his position.
Sharma took advantage of easing conditions to move on from a lean run of form. He 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.
Sharma and Suresh Raina's 68-run stand for the fourth wicket helped India maintain a steady run-rate as they approached the summit. England didn't do their chances any favours too, with Pietersen grassing Sharma at mid-off for 12. He eventually fell, with India's score on 158 having done all the hard work.
MS Dhoni said that Sharma's innings would boost his confidence, going forward.
"I am glad he scored runs because he is one of the most god-gifted talents that is around," Dhoni said after the game. "Of course an innings like this was very much needed for him. It will give him a lot of confidence and also time at the top level. Personally I am very happy for him."
"We all felt he is someone who can be a really good opener, in the sense he cuts and pulls really well," Dhoni said. "Also, with two openers, you want one of them to be slightly more aggressive than the other. I think he accepted the challenge, he also felt he got into the side because Manoj [Tiwary] was unfit. So it was an opportunity for him. The good thing was he took it as a challenge."