India captain MS Dhoni said he would look to ensure his team were motivated to win dead rubbers after they yesterday allowed the opposition a consolation victory for a series already decided.
Joe Root’s century in his first one-day international at his Yorkshire home ground laid the platform for England’s much-needed 41-run win over India at Headingley.
India won the series 3-1 but England’s victory in the finale meant they avoided being whitewashed by the world champions.
Root’s 113 was the cornerstone of England’s 294 for seven – their best ODI total of the season and a vast improvement on their 206 all out in a nine-wicket defeat by India at Edgbaston on Tuesday.
India faltered in chasing 295, with Ravindra Jadeja’s dashing 87 at No 7 too late to turn the tide.
“I think we gave away too many wickets,” Dhoni said. “There were a lot of soft dismissals.”
Asked whether India lacked motivation with the series already clinched, Dhoni said: “That may have been the case. That’s one area where we have to improve.”
It seemed England would be restricted to another meagre total when they slumped to 117 for four off 29 overs after losing the toss.
But Root, who became the first Yorkshireman to score an ODI ton at Headingley, and Jos Buttler (49) repaired the damage with a fifth-wicket partnership of 108.
Recalled all-rounder Ben Stokes then chipped in with an unbeaten 33 as England’s bowlers were at last given some runs to play with.
For England, it was initially an all-too-familiar story as India’s pacemen made early breakthroughs before wickets fell to the spinners and runs dried up.
“We’ve got a lot of 20s and 30s this series,” England captain Alastair Cook said. “It’s the first time we have seen one of our guys get a hundred and it gives you a target to defend.”
England found themselves 39 for two off seven overs. Alex Hales mistimed a pull off recalled paceman Umesh Yadav and holed out to midwicket for four.
Moeen Ali had been promoted to first-wicket down after making 67 at No 7 at Edgbaston. But the left-hander exited for nine when he sliced a wide length ball from Bhuvneshwar Kumar to Yadav at third man.
Under-pressure captain Cook, trying to break the shackles, made 46 before he top-edged a sweep against off-spinner Suresh Raina and was caught behind by Dhoni.
Dhoni then stumped Eoin Morgan (14) off Ravichandran Ashwin’s off-spin. But the re-introduction of pace saw Buttler uppercut Yadav for six. He then pulled Ashwin for six and Root hoisted left-arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja over long-on for a six of his own.
England enjoyed a productive batting power play, scoring 55 runs for no wickets in five overs. But Buttler fell when he set off for a non-existent single and was run out by Dhoni.
Man-of-the-match Root, though, slog-swept Jadeja for six to complete a 105-ball century.
But Root’s second and highest hundred in 36 ODIs ended when an intended “ramp” off Mohammed Shami went straight to Ashwin at short fine leg.
India’s run chase started badly when they lost Ajinkya Rahane, who made a maiden ODI century at Edgbaston, for a third ball duck after he steered James Anderson’s outswinger straight to Morgan at point.
Virat Kohli’s miserable tour continued when, on 13, he was squared up by Anderson, who took an economical two for 39, and edged to Cook at slip.
Shikhar Dhawan, who made an unbeaten 97 at Edgbaston, swept off-spinner Ali for six then, when he tried to repeat the shot three balls later, he was bowled by Ali for 31.
India could have lost two wickets in the next over but fast bowler Steven Finn saw Chris Woakes at third man drop Ambati Rayudu on six and Cook fail to hold a slip catch when Raina had made just one.
Rayudu responded with a straight six off Ali. But man-of-the-series Raina fell for 18 when, trying to cut Ali, he was caught behind by wicketkeeper Buttler. Rayudu completed a second successive fifty before, on 53, he saw an ugly swipe off Stokes lob to Cook at mid-on.
India’s victory hopes then all but evaporated when danger man Dhoni, on 29, somehow cut a wide Finn delivery low to Stokes at point. That left India 173 for six in the 37th over.
Jadeja hit freely, making all the runs in a last-wicket stand of 44, before playing on to the persistent Finn as England won with eight balls to spare.
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