Going into the fourth ODI, India knew that they needed only one win to clinch the series. And, they came up with a perfect performance to clinch the series at Edgbaston. India hardly put a foot wrong on Tuesday as they went about humiliating the Englishmen, something which England had done to them in the Tests. The performance was a reiteration of India’s strengths in the one-dayers and, in the same context, England’s weaknesses in the format. To put things in a nutshell, it seemed like India played a T20 team in the Tests, and now England look like they are playing a Test in the ODIs.
The one area where India had struggled in the earlier matches was their inability to get the early breakthroughs with the ball. But, in the Birmingham ODI, they set that record straight as well. Bhuvneshwar Kumar may have struggled in the last couple of Tests, but in the ODIs he has looked effective again. On Tuesday, he was the man who delivered the early blows for the Indians. His dismissals of openers Alex Hales and Alastair Cook in the same over firmly put England on the back foot.
India’s bowling was brilliant throughout. And, this was reiterated by another wonderful bowling effort from Mohammad Shami. The fast bowler may have struggled in the Tests, as a result of which he was even dropped for the last couple of matches. But, in the one-dayers, he has been a totally different bowler. Shami bowled the line and length needed in the format, and also raked up some pace, and he was richly rewarded for the same. His scalps of Gary Ballance and Jos Buttler were key in the sense that it did not allow an English fight back, and kept India ahead.
Spin has troubled England throughout the series, and this game was no different. Although Ravichandran Ashwin was expensive in comparison to the other bowlers, he got the big scalp of Moeen Ali, who played a splendid innings under pressure, and could have proved to be further dangerous in the slog overs. Ravindra Jadeja once again stood up to the task. He not only kept the runs down, but also claimed the important wicket of Eoin Morgan, who had got his eye in. Suresh Raina chipped in with the other big wicket of Joe Root, who had also got off to a start.
The one area where India have struggled with the bat has been in the opening department, just like the Tests. The departure of Rohit Sharma to injury had put further pressure on Shikhar Dhawan. And, the left-hander finally made a notable score in the series. He began cautiously, but once he flourished, there was no stopping him. He played strokes all around the park, just like the Dhawan we have come to know. As for Ajinkya Rahane, he had been getting starts, but hadn’t converted the same. On Tuesday, he carried on and played a splendid knock to register his maiden, well-deserved ton.
--By A Cricket Analyst