Score: India 187 for 8 (Rahane 54, Raina 40; Swann 3-33, Bresnan 3-43), England 188 for 3 (Cook 80, Kieswetter 46) Full scorecard
And so it continues. India may have thought another defeat was out of the question – first when rain threatened to wash out the 2nd ODI and then again after they had made an impressive 187 for eight from their 23 overs. But England have not had enough of winning, not by any means.
The hosts took all four Tests, then claimed victory in the solitary T20 international. And when it looked as though they were up against it in the first one-day international, at Chester-le-Street, last Saturday, a downpour arrived to force abandonment and keep the unbeaten run intact.
This time, England needed no help from above. A target that looked extremely challenging at the outset was quickly reduced to manageable proportions by a terrific opening stand of 67 between Craig Kieswetter and Alastair Cook. From then on – even without shoulder injury victim Eoin Morgan to take charge of the middle order – it was always likely to be a case of when rather than if England would triumph.
Kiewswetter, unsurprisingly, was the more spectacular opener, zipping to 46 from 25 balls – three of which were put over the rope via a pull and two drives. But Cook, the ODI captain not considered sprightly enough for T20s, wasn’t far behind his partner in the scoring rate stakes. And he stayed to finish the job.
A pulled six off the spinner, R Ashwin, helped Cook to complete a half-century from 37 deliveries. Then, despite losing Ian Bell and Ravi Bopara along the way, England’s satisfied skipper remained to take the man of the match award with an undefeated 80 from 63 balls.
Victory was achieved with seven wickets and five balls to spare and, in the end, this latest win could hardly have been more straightforward.
India had also been given a good start by their openers once the rain relented to allow this match to get underway five hours late and with the contest reduced to 23 overs per side. Parthiv Patel and Ajinkya Rahane managed only 30 this time (as opposed to 82 at the Riverside last weekend) but they set a perfect tone under the floodlights.
Patel, who twice pulled Tim Bresnan over the rope for meaty sixes, rushed to 28 from 18 balls before thin edging a catch behind off Jimmy Anderson. Then Rahane took charge, accelerating to a fine half-century (from 40 deliveries) with the help of five fours and a huge pulled six off Stuart Broad.
Rahul Dravid chipped in with 32 but it was Suresh Raina who really had India supporters believing that the long wait for a win was coming to an end. Raina may have been found wanting in the Test series but he hit the ball ferociously hard while roaring to 40 off 19 balls. Jade Dernbach, twice, and Bresnan were put over the rope as India’s total climbed to menacing proportions.
The tourists, missing eight players because of assorted injuries and now worrying about Rahane’s fitness after the opener needed a runner to finish his innings, thought they could see a light at the end of the tunnel. But, just as quickly, England’s batsmen extinguished it.