Yuvraj, Dhoni Notch 100s as India Clinch ODI Series vs England
Yuvraj Singh and Mahendra Singh Dhoni turned the clock back with a batting masterclass as the old warhorses' twin tons powered India to a 15-run win over England in the second One-day International and an unassailable 2-0 lead in the three-match series at Cuttack on Thursday.
Coming into bat with India struggling at 25 for three, Yuvraj and Dhoni brought into play their years of experience to not only bail the team out of trouble, but also propel them to a formidable 381 for six in the stipulated 50 overs.
In reply, England fought to the end with captain Eoin Morgan leading the chase with a swashbuckling century, only for his side to fall short narrowly at the packed Barabati Stadium.
Needing 22 off the final over, seamer Bhuvneshwar Kumar kept his nerves and conceded a mere six runs, even as triumphant skipper Virat Kohli punched his fist in the air in jubilation.
Despite being set a mammoth target, England were in the game as long as Morgan was in the middle, but bowler Jasprit Bumrah put paid to the visiting side's hopes when he calmly ran out the England skipper in the non-striker's end after he backed up too far.
Invited to bat, Yuvraj (150 off 127 balls) and Dhoni (134 off 122) forged a record 256-run partnership to put their team in a position of strength from a precarious one.
Yuvraj was on fire from ball one and hammered 21 fours and three sixes in his career-best knock in ODIs. The southpaw, brought back into the national team, could not have silenced his detractors in a better way as got to his 14th ODI hundred, which was his first since the 2011 World Cup.
It was a typical innings from Dhoni, who took his time initially before cutting loose to tear the opposition bowlers apart.
Dhoni too crossed the three-figure mark after a while with his last hundred coming way back in 2013 when he struck an unbeaten 139 against Australia at Mohali.
He ended up hammering 10 fours and half a dozen sixes, scoring his 10th ODI hundred in the process and first since handing over captaincy to Kohli.
It was raining sixes and fours especially in the last 10 overs with India plundering 120 runs.
Beleaguered England were required to bat out of their skins to overcome the imposing target, which they could not.
Even a target of 382 did not look safe enough as England almost scripted a brilliant chase with Morgan's valiant century.
With Morgan in full flow on a benign pitch and the heavy dew working to their advantage, England needed 28 from 10 balls, but Bumrah's presence of mind saved the day for India.
Morgan finished with 102 from 81 balls with six fours and five sixes.
Liam Plunkett straight drove one with an anxious Morgan out of the crease as Bumrah gathered the ball and disturbed the stumps with a cool-headed display. It was all over for England who ended at 366 for five.
Bumrah returned with 2/81, while Ravichandran Ashwin was also among wickets with 3/65. Left-arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja played his part, conceding just 45 runs for one wicket in his full quota of 10 overs.
England kept themselves in line with Morgan's century under pressure, coming after half tons from Jason Roy (82), Joe Root (54) and Moeen Ali (55).
Needing something special, English opener Roy and number three Root took the score past 100.
But Ashwin made up for his ordinary outing last time and snared the wicket of Root straightaway after being introduced in the 20th.
Dropped on 37 by Jadeja, Ali went on to post the fourth half-century of the lineup and gave the captain fine support, reducing the deficit to 83 from 40 balls.
With both batsmen looking ominous, it was Bhuvneshwar, who replaced Umesh Yadav in the only change for today's game, who gave a crucial breakthrough by removing Ali with a slower ball.
After being dropped, Roy also had an extended stay till he was castled by Jadeja, who continued his spell at the other end.
In the next over, Ashwin bowled the dangerman Ben Stokes (1) to reduce them to 173/4 and derail their chase with skipper Morgan waging a lone battle.
(With inputs from PTI)