Seasoned campaigners Suresh Raina and Mahendra Singh Dhoni struck brilliant half centuries to help India post a mammoth 202/6 against England in the third and final Twenty20 International at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium here on Wednesday.
Raina’s 45-ball 63 helped the hosts set the tone for the massive total before southpaw Yuvraj Singh (27) and former skipper Dhoni (56) finished things off in style as India recovered from the early loss of captain Virat Kohli after being sent into bat.
India were off to a dismal start losing Kohli (2) to a silly run-out in the second over of the match before one-down Suresh Raina joined opener Lokesh Rahul (22) in the middle and the right-left duo added 61 runs for the second wicket in no time.
Raina, especially was the more aggressive of the two, as he dispatched pacer Chris Jordan for two sixes in the last over of the mandatory field restrictions.
Just when the hosts looked set for a huge total, all-rounder Ben Stokes cleaned up Rahul with a length ball after the right-hander hit two fours and a six in his 18-ball knock.
The fall of Rahul brought in Dhoni, who played a few deliveries to get used to the wicket with Raina, at the other end, taking full advantage of the dropped chance off leg-spinner Adil Rashid to bring up his career’s fourth half-century with a brilliant six off the leggie.
Raina and Dhoni continued to torment the English bowlers as India crossed the three-figure mark in the 13th over before pacer Liam Plunkett returned for a second spell to end the left-hander’s 45-ball knock, laced with two boundaries and five huge hits over the fence.
With India comfortably placed at 120/3, the stage was set for new man Yuvraj Singh (27) and Dhoni to step on the gas for a good total.
The Ranchi stumper took the mantle of the scoring, bringing up his career’s maiden T20I half-century off 32 deliveries before the Punjab southpaw showed his class to dispatch Jordan for a four and three sixes in the 18th over to take India to 177/3.
Yuvraj’s breezy innings, however, ended on the first ball of the 19th over when he misjudged a slower delivery from Mills to be caught behind by stumper Jos Buttler. His 10-ball cameo included one four and three sixes.
Yuvraj’s wicket brought in 19-year-old Pant (6 not out), who played second fiddle to Dhoni, as Jordan ended the 35-year-old’s brilliant effort on the second ball of the last over of the innings.
Dhoni, who consumed 36 deliveries for his knock, laced with five fours and two sixes, got a top edge to be caught by Rashid at short fine leg.
All-rounder Hardik Pandya (11) then added 11 runs with Pant to take India past the 200-run mark.
For the visitors, all the pacers — Mills, Jordan, Plunkett and Stokes — took one wicket apiece.
Brief Scores: India 202/6 (Suresh Raina 63, M.S. Dhoni 56, Yuvraj Singh 27, Liam Plunkett 1/22) vs England.