Kedar Jadhav thumped a quick fire 76-ball 120 to help India win a high scoring first ODI against England by three wickets, with 11 balls to spare in Pune on Sunday.
India's captain, Virat Kohli, won the toss and pressed the opposition in to bat first on a Pune surface that bore a tinge of grass. The grass though didn't aid the Indian seamers as England's top order found runs. Opener Jason Roy scampered to 73 from 61 balls and ensured that the visitors ended the first ten overs at 67 for 1.
Following his dismissal in the 19th over, Joe Root and captain Eoin Morgan continued scoring at a brisk tempo. Morgan's dismissal in the 27th over offered India hope of applying pressure. However, Jos Buttler and then later Ben Stokes found quick runs.
Stokes was the pick of the batsmen and clubbed five sixes and two fours in his 40-ball 62, which helped England post an impressive 350 in their innings. It was the seventh time England have posted 350 since the 2015 World Cup.
India required to step on the gas early in their bid to gun down England's mammoth total. But their openers, Shikhar Dhawan and KL Rahul, failed to make an impact and fell cheaply in the first six overs. Yuvraj Singh showed signs of form on his return to the side but he fell after blazing three boundaries. When MS Dhoni followed an over later, India was struggling at 63 for 4 in 11.5 overs.
It was then that Jadhav and Kohli came to the fore and added a 200-run stand for the fifth wicket. Jadhav played aggressor and accounted for 102 of those runs. Jadhav, hailing from Pune, made his intentions clear early and found the boundary from the third ball he faced from Stokes.
He targeted Stokes again, an over later, and smashed two successive fours. Morgan turned to spin, from Adil Rashid, to change the tempo, but Jadhav hit him out of the attack by clubbing two fours and a six from his first three overs. Jadhav's 50 came from just 29 balls. The Kohli-Jadhav combine guided their side to 253, before Kohli departed in the 37th over, with India still 88-runs adrift, after scoring his 27th ODI ton.
Jadhav, struggling for mobility due to cramp at the other end, hit two more sixes and a four before he too departed, with the hosts requiring 60 from 60 balls. Jadhav's ton came from just 65 balls. It was the fifth quickest ton by an Indian batsman in ODIs. Following his departure, Hardik Pandya and R Ashwin held their nerve and guided their side home.
"It is a great feeling that I could win a game for my country," Kedar Jadhav, the Man of the Match, said. "That too at my home ground. My mom, dad, my wife, my daughter are here. I could play this long because the captain Kohli has shown us how to chase big totals. I have already missed many chances with the batting. I have also missed chances to bat with Virat and watch him closely. It's tough to run with Virat, but I will get better."
Kohli attributed the win to a 'special partnership'. "This win is going to take a while to sink in," Kohli said. "Conceding 350, being 60 for 4, their bowlers on top, it took a special partnership to get this win. We have seen the potential of Kedar before. And Hardik finishing in the end. Two cool heads with Ashwin in the middle. At 60 for 4, yes I was still thinking win. The moment I saw Kedar striking well, I told him let's get to 150 for 4, and they will hit the panic button. The only way we could have come out of this was to counterattack. We couldn't win with those singles. We needed to tell the opposition that we believe we can win. The wicket was very placid so it was just a case of the bowlers trying their best. We bowled really well in the initial phases, but in the end they countered us really well."