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‘Credit to the youngsters’

- India win bilateral ODI series in England after 24 years
Mahendra Singh Dhoni, after India’s win, on Tuesday

Calcutta: India had won the last two one-dayers against England pretty comfortably. But on Tuesday, in the fourth game of the five-match series, in Edgbaston, India simply blew away the Englishmen, notching up a nine-wicket victory.

In the process, India clinched the series. This was India’s first bilateral ODI series win in England since they had triumphed in 1990, under Mohammed Azharuddin’s captaincy.

It was also captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s 91st ODI victory, making him the most successful Indian captain in one-dayers. Interestingly, it is Azharuddin (90 ODI wins) whom Dhoni overtook.

In Tuesday’s match, chasing 207 for victory, India cantered home in just 30.3 overs, losing only one wicket. Man of the Match Ajinkya Rahane scored 106 off 100 balls, while his opening partner Shikhar Dhawan remained not out on 97. They had a partnership of 183 runs.

Mahendra Singh Dhoni: Since the first game, our performance has kept getting better. After two easy wins, there is a tendency to relax a bit. But I think this was a perfect game.

It was a good toss to win, as there was a bit of help for the fast bowlers. They took early wickets, making the job easier for the spinners. Importantly, the pacers were patient in their bowling. I personally thought that the wicket wouldn’t turn much as the game would progress, so it was important for us to take early wickets. England’s batsmen were already under pressure when the spinners came on to bowl.

It is important for us if the openers get going. If they can spend 10 to 12 overs, it gives us a platform so that we can slog at the death overs. We do rely a lot on our openers.

It was really good to see Shikhar (Dhawan) back in form. He has been getting decent starts and today he made the best use of it.

(Ajinkya) Rahane was third in line as Shikhar and Rohit (Sharma) were scheduled to open. Rahane made the most of the chance he got. He plays authentic shots and is a good timer, which makes it easier for him. I personally feel that the role suits him. It can lead to options as we can have Rohit, who’s also a very talented player, slotted into the middle order. But as of now, we won’t force any changes.

I feel a lot of credit goes to the youngsters as well as the senior players who guided us how to play cricket. The youngsters have picked themselves up and it’s important to maintain oneself.

Alastair Cook: It was a very tough day… It is amazing how the game changes quickly. In the Test matches, we turned it around and finished on a high. We have played some bad cricket after the Tests, to be honest. I don’t know why… Got to try and find a reason. We didn’t play to our potential, which is frustrating.

The pitch probably got a little bit better as the match progressed, but we were going to bat first anyway. India outplayed us… They batted, bowled and fielded better than us. We are in a hard place to be in at the moment. We have to be true to ourselves, buck up and work incredibly hard. That is the only way to go… That’s the bottom-line.

It is always tough when you lose three games very quickly, especially the manner in which we have lost. We have to look forward to the next six months of one-day cricket… We have the World Cup at the end of it… So people will have to be hungry and keep working hard... Try and turn it around.

You know how it is like when you are picking a team that is not winning, your players are not performing and the guys aren’t doing their job. We will have to turn this around over the six-month period and start playing to our potential.

Moeen (Ali) batted well today. He gives us another option.

We have the potential, but we are not delivering. We aren’t playing according to the plan. When people do not score runs and do not bowl well, they will get punished.

Ajinkya Rahane (MoM): It’s really a special feeling when you score a hundred and the team wins. The bowlers did well to set up the match for us. Overall, it’s been a very good team effort.

The ball was doing a bit initially. I was batting well, but I got out cheaply in the first two games. I was determined to stay there today and make the most of the opportunity. I was planning to hit a six when I was on 44… And it clicked. I backed myself and played my shots.

The World Cup is still long way off… I’m happy we have won this game because things got tougher here, especially after the Tests. At present, I’m enjoying my role in the 50-over format.

I’m really happy for Shikhar… It was great to watch him from the other end.

It is a great challenge to open the innings. When your captain tells you to open, you have to prepare your mind and accept the challenge… That’s what I did.

Shikhar Dhawan: It is a great feeling to win a match in this fashion, finishing it off with still around 20 overs remaining. We had a hard time during the Test series, so it’s a reward now. The way we are playing is really fabulous…

We (he and Rahane) didn’t know that we broke India’s record for the opening wicket stand outside the subcontinent. Ajinkya was in a good flow from the start and that relieved the pressure off me.

I really enjoyed his batting. When I came here, I wanted to look at my basics and technique, the areas where I need to work more. Ravibhai (Ravi Shastri) gave me some tips, which really helped me… He gave me plenty of confidence.