A topsy-turvy final group match in the ODI tri-series Down Under finally swayed back England's way, just in time for them to claim their place in the final against their old rivals, Australia. India battled well but found their meagre total of just 200 ultimately insufficient to defend, as England clinched the match by 3 wickets with nineteen balls to spare. They will return to the WACA on Sunday looking for a major fillip ahead of the World Cup.
India began their innings well, putting on a solid 83 runs for the first wicket, but thereafter the wickets tumbled at regular intervals as they failed to establish any further partnerships of merit. Opener Ajinkya Rahane top scored for them with a steady 73. It could have been even worse but for a spirited last-wicket knock, that saw Mohammed Shami play a wonderfully uninhibited 25-run cameo in moving the score on from a perilous 165-9 to 200 all out off 48.1 overs at the close.
Steven Finn was again the pick of the English bowlers, taking an impressive 3-36 from his ten over spell, including the priceless wicket of Rahane. He was ably backed up by all the bowlers as Chris Woakes, Stuart Broad and Moeen Ali all chipped in with two wickets apiece.
In reply, England spluttered to start with and must have thought that the game was getting away from them at an uncomfortable 66-5, including skipper Eoin Morgan being out for just two runs. They pulled it back in encouraging fashion though, as a tremendous partnership between James Taylor and Jos Buttler put on 125 runs for the sixth wicket, and effectively took the match away from the Indians. They did not help themselves by seeming to adopt a somewhat formulaic tactical approach in the field, keeping men deep when perhaps they should have gone on the offensive. It allowed the partnership to develop without undue pressure being applied, and England basically coasted through a relatively comfortable run chase in the end.
There was still time for a further wobble by England, as they reached the commanding position of ten runs to win and plenty of balls still left to be delivered. Instead of simply nudging the remaining runs, Taylor decided to play his shots and was dismissed on 82, closely followed two runs later by Buttler for 67. It was not calamitous though, as Broad and Woakes steadied the slightly wobbling ship, to see the match out. #CricketEngland will have enjoyed the win, but know that they will need to tighten up in certain aspects of their batting and bowling performances, if they are to beat the Aussies on Sunday. The pitch in Perth will be a slight concern to both teams, after a low scoring game today and the likelihood of the same pitch being used at the weekend.