Hardik, Pant put on a show as India clinch series

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An allround effort from Hardik Pandya and a maiden ODI hundred from Rishabh Pant helped India swat England aside in the final ODI at Old Trafford to clinch the series 2-1. Hardik first starred with the ball to register his best bowling figures in the format before joining forces with Pant at a crucial juncture in the run chase as the two batters added 133 for the fifth wicket to set up India’s five-wicket win.

India got off to the worst possible start in the run chase when Reece Topley haunted them again. Shikhar Dhawan found the fielder at backward point and Rohit Sharma edged one to the slip fielder. Virat Kohli once again flattered to deceive as Topley made it three in three by bowling just outside off that took the batsman’s outside edge. Reduced to 38/3 in a chase of 260, India had their task cut out before Pant counter-attacked. But a few overs later, England struck again as a similar pattern to the first innings unfolded. Craig Overton got one to bounce a bit more than usual as Suryakumar Yadav failed in his attempt to glance it down to third man and ended up edging it behind.

Hardik then took over the mantle of being the aggressor with Pant playing second fiddle. The allrounder took on Topley and ensured the pressure was lifted as a result of his belligerent batting. Once he got to his fifty off 43 balls, Pant too went past the landmark as India slowly seized control. England’s search for a wicket became futile as the likes of Liam Livingstone and Overton were taken apart. England were left to rue a missed stumping opportunity when Pant was batting on 18 as he grew in confidence and even stepped down the track to Overton to smash him for a six.

Even though a brilliant catch by Ben Stokes brought an end to Hardik’s charge, India had no problems getting over the line with Pant going berserk. He went down on one knee to smack David Willey over midwicket for a six before getting to his ton in the following over. He then toyed with Willey by smashing him for five consecutive boundaries to thrill the crowd before getting the job done with a trademark reverse sweep in the following over.

Earlier in the day, a four-fer from Hardik ensured England never got on top of India with the bat. For the third game in a row, England struggled to dominate proceedings while batting as India struck twice in just the second over of the game. Mohammed Siraj, coming in place of Jasprit Bumrah, found swing with the new ball to remove Jonny Bairstow and Joe Root for ducks to put England under pressure early.

Jason Roy, unperturbed by those two wickets, went after the Indian bowlers in the PowerPlay alongside Stokes. England’s positive approach came to the fore as the pressure was immediately lifted as the hosts raced to 59/2 after just 8 overs. However, India once again pulled the plug as Hardik came into the attack and made an impact immediately. Cramping the rampaging Roy for room, Hardik kept him quiet and that resulted in the batsman top-edging a delivery to perish for 41. Ben Stokes soon followed him back to the pavilion as he too perished against Hardik’s short-pitched delivery.

Jos Buttler and Moeen Ali were then forced to rebuild with the left-hander getting into a shell at one stage, scoring just 5 off 26 deliveries. The shackles were finally broken as Moeen and Buttler took on Siraj and Yuzvendra Chahal to get England back on track. Against the run of play, Moeen edged one behind down the leg side off Ravindra Jadeja and then Hardik came back to dismiss the half-centurion Buttler and Liam Livingstone in the same over. Losing both the batsmen pretty much ended England’s hopes of getting closer to 300 as Chahal returned to redeem himself by polishing off the tail.

Brief scores: England 259 in 45.5 overs (Jos Buttler 60, Jason Roy 41; Hardik Pandya 4/24, Yuzvendra Chahal 3/60) lost to India 261/5 in 42.1 overs (Rishabh Pant 125*, Hardik Pandya 71; Reece Topley 3/35) by 5 wickets

Source By – The Times of India

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