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India pocket series

- Move to open with Rohit clicks; MoM Raina hits unbeaten 89

Mohali: Ahead of the fourth one-day International, Ian Bell had commented that the cold and breezy conditions in Mohali were favourable to the England side, thus hoping that they would be able to square the series.

However, on Wednesday, it was India who thrived in the, as Bell said, ‘English’ conditions. They overhauled the target of 258 runs with five wickets in hand and 15 balls to spare to take an unassailable lead of 3-1 in the five-ODI series.

The win certainly comes as a welcome news for India, who had suffered some humiliating losses over the last couple of months in different formats of the game. In fact, India had last won a series in September, when they had whitewashed New Zealand in the Test series.

The architects of Wednesday’s win were Rohit Sharma (83), Suresh Raina (89 not out) and Ishant Sharma (2/47).

Despite India losing four wickets in quick succession, Rohit and Raina remained focused on their job to put up a fourth-wicket stand of 68 runs, which paved the way for the win.

They were also aided by some wayward England bowling. The pacers bowled short and provided enough width for the batsmen to swing their arms.

Raina’s innings consisted a medley of hits all around the park. Under the circumstances, it was a fearless innings. But he played sensibly, banking on partnerships.

The disdainful way with which he dispatched seamer Tim Bresnan for a straight six in the 45th over showed the confidence of the left-handed batsman. His form could be gauged from the fact that he is thus far the highest scorer in the series with 194 runs.

Raina could have fallen on 41 had Steven Finn not knocked the bails off at the non-striker’s end while he was delivering the ball. Finn induced an edge off Raina which flew to Alastair Cook at slip, but as the umpire signalled a dead ball the celebrations were muted.

But that doesn’t take the credit away from Raina’s 79-ball innings, in which he hit nine boundaries and a six.

However, the foundation was laid by Rohit. Going by his innings, one cannot but remain impressed by his 93-ball knock. Rohit didn’t look uncomfortable for a moment given the fact that the team management informed him that he would be opening the innings only on the match-day morning. He was given hints in the lead-up to the match, but still, to prosper in a relatively new position deserves praise nevertheless.

Though one may call it a bit unfair on Ajinkya Rahane, Rohit should be credited for seizing the opportunity with both hands.

The flamboyant Rohit timed the ball effortlessly and was able to find boundaries with utmost ease. He made his intentions clear when he pulled Tim Bresnan for a boundary in the fourth ball of his innings. And he went on to hit 11 boundaries and a huge six, thus repaying the faith which captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni had on him.

The Indian bowlers also lived up to the captain’s expectations after Dhoni elected to field. The pacers exploited the moisture in the pitch and swung the ball around, putting relentless pressure on the England batsmen.