Rishabh Pant’s first ODI century and Hardik Pandya’s all-around heroics propelled India to a five-wicket victory against England in the series-deciding third match on Sunday. The away team won the three-match series 2-1.
India was in trouble at 72 for four in a chase of 260. However, the top duo of Pant (125 not out off 113 balls) and Hardik (71 off 55 and 4/24) engaged in a competition to outdo one another, and the visitors succeeded with 47 balls remaining.
With more than four overs remaining in the innings, a focused India knocked out England for 259, thanks mainly to Hardik taking a career-high 4/24.
The flashy all-rounder warned the T20 World Cup year’s opponents from Gujarat, who controlled the opening half of the game with his brilliant bowling. England’s skipper Jos Buttler top-scored for his team with an 80-ball 60.
Then, Pant displayed his impressive batting prowess with Hardik in an outstanding inning at Old Trafford that included 16 fours and two sixes.
This came after Reece Topley, a lanky seamer (3/35), once again proved to be the wrecker-in-chief by quickly dismissing the trio of Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, and Virat Kohli.
While Rohit (17) reached out to a ball that was angling away and nicking it to Joe Root at first slip, Dhawan’s dismal series performance continued.
After Topley delivered a ball that slanted across, Kohli edged one to Buttler.
Kohli seemed to be playing well, as has been the case with him often recently, but one minor error and the maestro was coming back shaking his head.
England was in the lead, with India laboring at 38 for three in the ninth.
Before nicking a Craig Overton delivery to Buttler, Suryakumar Yadav had scored 16 runs. Had Buttler not failed to stump Moeen Ali, giving Pant a life at number 17, India may have found themselves in a worse situation.
The innings were then stabilized by Pant and Hardik’s combination of prudence and attack. The pair promptly put up a half-century stand to keep India in the match and eventually took control of the action.
Pant and Hardik both used a variety of strokes to do their tasks proficiently, rarely displaying any signs of pain.
Ben Stokes’ outstanding catch allowed Hardik to escape, but India ultimately cruised to victory thanks to a barrage of boundaries from Pant.
Earlier, Mohammed Siraj, filling in for the injured Jasprit Bumrah, had a huge confidence boost when he quickly removed Jonny Bairstow with his third delivery.
The bat twisted in the grasp of the England opener as he prepared to play it on the leg-side, and the ball flew to Shreyas Iyer at mid-off after a leading edge.
With his tails up, Siraj raced in to bowl to the productive Root. He caused the ball to go away, and captain Rohit skillfully caught the outside edge at the second slip. In actuality, Siraj’s delayed movement caused Root to be squared up.
At 12 for 2, England was in danger when two of its in-from batters returned to the hut for ducks.
This came after Mohammed Shami’s first delivery of the match, which Jason Roy (41) took advantage of to hit three boundaries off of him, including a four through mid-off.
Given that teams batting first have won eight out of the past nine games at Old Trafford, Rohit chose a calculated risk by choosing to field first.
Because Bumrah wasn’t there, his English counterpart Buttler was content to bat first, which was consoling for the hosts. However, he had no idea that the substitute for the world-class bowler for the day would upset their plans so early in their innings, and that too on a soundtrack for batting.
When Stokes gave his blade to send the ball through the off-side for a four, he demonstrated what a terrific pitch it was to bat on.
When Roy and Stokes’ counterattacking combination reached 54 runs, Hardik had the former caught behind after tying him down by bowling to a tight line and length and stabilizing the innings.
Even though the ball was on the shorter side, Roy had little space to release his arms, which led to England losing their third wicket with 66 runs already scored.
The English Test skipper was shortly caught and bowled by Hardik as he was amidst a potent spell. The all-rounder took his second wicket without taking a catch as compensation for some excellent bowling by Hardik, who dropped the ball short when he spotted a disgruntled Stokes moving out.
England could only manage 16 runs in seven overs after Roy’s departure because of India’s tight bowling.
Siraj then resumed the onslaught, hitting Buttler twice in three balls on the helmet. The therapist checked him double following the concussion protocol, but the batter seemed to be both well.