Score: India 304-6 (Kohli 107, Dravid 69, Dhoni 50 no; Swann 3-34)
If you are deprived of a 100th international century from Sachin Tendulkar what becomes the consolation prize? Judging by vociferous Indian support – and what a resilient lot they are too – it is a significant farewell innings from Rahul Dravid.
‘The Wall’, who has stood strong on this hapless tour while others have crumbled, walked to the middle for his final ODI innings and you sensed something special on the 38-year-old’s 344th and final appearance. Much of the crowd gave him a standing ovation as he emerged down the steps of the pavilion.
He went on to make 69 from 79 balls. Obviously not his best innings but then there have been so many since he made his India debut 15 years ago, but his third wicket partnership with the hugely impressive Virat Kohli (107 from 79 balls) was worth 170 from 160 balls and could see India at least fly home tomorrow morning not completely routed.
Kohli’s 100 was box office in itself – his second 50 came from only 33 balls – and in the end outshone Dravid’s effort before he was out hit wicket after knocking off the leg bail with his foot.
It was no doubting this was India’s highlight of the tour. Talk about leaving your best until last.
But the match had not started well for the Indians. MS Dhoni lost his fifth consecutive toss of the series in a match that then suffered a delayed start (Three minutes before the scheduled start we had an absolute downpour which caused a 40 minute delay to proceedings).
Understandably, India made a watchful start with the first four not coming until the ninth over – a cut from Ajinkya Rahane off Tim Bresnan – the over after he was dropped by Sami Patel (he dropped two catches in the deep) at third man off Steve Finn.
Patel was left rather shame-faced as Finn showed him how to take a catch at third man (and a rather harder chance) to remove Rahane in Jade Dernbach’s second over.
Three overs later Graeme Swann struck with his second ball – Parthiv Patel caught at mid-off having got bogged down. At 57 for two the stage was set for Dravid and Kohli.
Dravid, who struck only two fours in his 50 including a majestic cut off Dernbach, was happy to play second fiddle to Kohli’s merry jig.
Of course, England were not helped that they were stripped of Broad (shoulder) and Anderson (rested), and they were briefly minus Swann, who went off for treatment on a twisted ankle after slipping in the field , before coming back to bowl Dravid, the ball after Kohli went to his century.
Dravid was given another standing ovation as he left the ODI scene for the last time.
It proved a significant return for Swann who also claimed Kohli’s wicket, which was referred to the third umpire.
The run fest continued with Dhoni (50 from 26 balls) as 48 came from the batting power play and he struck a big six into the grandstand to bring up the 300. India will now really fancy their chances of breaking their duck.