CUTTACK: This match had everything the India fan wanted. A giant total by the home team with vintage hundreds from two seasoned campaigners, thrill intact almost throughout the chase thanks to England's never-say-die attitude and in the end, an Indian win.
The capacity turnout at Barabati Stadium witnessed all that the one-day crowd craves for. Icing on the cake for them was obviously a first series win in this format with Virat Kohli as captain in all versions. The 15-run margin of victory was too close for comfort considering that India made 381. But bottom line was series won in the second match with one to spare.
There were apprehensions ahead of the series over Yuvraj Singh's place in the team. Recalled for 50-over duty after December 2013, he was regarded as a spent force by many. With India stuttering to 22/2 after Eoin Morgan chose to field, in walked Yuvraj. It soon became 25/3. When he fell in the 43rd over after a career-best 150, India were 281/4. MS Dhoni then unleashed what he knows best as the last seven overs yielded 100 runs.
If the second half of the Indian innings was mostly about heavy shelling, the first was different. Rebuilding being need of the hour, Yuvraj and Dhoni were relatively quiet, as 100 came up in the 20th over. If the left-hander was still playing some shots, the former skipper was subdued.
It changed completely as Yuvraj grew in confidence. Fed consistently with deliveries that could be pulled, the 35-year-old used the shot to telling effect and collected most of his 21 fours from the mid-wicket region. There were three sixes in the 127-ball effort, one flat and low over long-on standing out for power and timing. It was his 14th century and first after the 2011 World Cup.
Morgan used all his resources, but the fourth-wicket stand kept flourishing and produced 256 in 38.2 overs. It was the second highest for this wicket in ODI history, behind the unbroken association of 275 by Mohammad Azharuddin and Ajay Jadeja against Zimbabwe at the same venue in 1998.
If England thought Yuvraj's departure would lead to a fall in the run rate, Dhoni blew such hopes away with some extraordinary hits. There were 10 fours and six sixes in his 122-ball 134 and one straight hit off Liam Plunkett that almost cleared the stadium. Kedar Jadhav, Hardik Pandya and Ravichandran made 57 between them in a total of 27 deliveries to help India post their ninth highest total.
Not expected to make a match of it after such punishment, England mounted a spirited challenge. After the early loss of Alex Hales, Jason Roy and Joe Root kept them in the match with a second-wicket partnership of 100 runs.
Ashwin made his presence felt in the middle stages by taking three wickets and at 206/5 in the 32nd over, it seemed over. Morgan, though, unfurled his A game and made an 81-ball 102 (6x4, 5x6) which took his team close to what would have been a miraculous chase.