England and India faced off at Old Trafford in the Third Royal London one-day international, knowing that the winner here would seal the series victory. And Rishabh Pant and Hardik Pandya must have read the memo, as they pretty much carried India over the line in a five-wicket win.
Pant, 24, delivered an excellent unbeaten century, while twenty-eight-year-old Hardik took 4-24 and then made 71 at the crease, in what was a remarkable carry by the duo. Their fine work gave the tourists what they were looking for, a series win in red hot Manchester conditions, with India heading home 2-1 victors.
While going after a target of 260, India found themselves reduced to 72-4. But, this was when Pant and Hardik took over, sharing a stand of a whopping 133. And, it could be a case of ruing missed chances for England, who could have stumped Pant for 18, while Craig Overton appeared to misjudge a catch from Hardik, which would have had him out for six.
While Hardik exited with 55 runs still required, Pant his maiden ODI century, with the winning runs scored with forty-seven balls remaining, and India finished on 125 not out. A lot of Hardik’s work was done with the ball, with England bowled for 259 primarily down to him. Jos Buttler, who replaced Eoin Morgan as captain for the first time, hit 60 but suffered defeat on his debut in the role.
Speaking after the series defeat, skipper Buttler insisted England were not far off, “It was a food wicket once you got yourself in, so we were a bit light with the bat. But the start we made with the ball gave us a chance, and that missed stumping cost us. Pant is a really good player, and you give a player like that a second chance, and they’re going to hurt you.
“We are not quite hitting our straps as a batting unit, but we are not far off. We are just not producing what we are capable of. So hopefully, individually and collectively, we can find a solution.”
Next up for England is a three-match one-dayer against South Africa at Chester-le-Street, and Buttler will be hoping that his team are ready to go again. It will be a concern that the top-order batting has failed to deliver on three successive occasions. And, missed chances in the field also continue to cost England. However, it is a team in transition, and better times will undoubtedly come.
For India all-rounder Hardik Pandya, it was time to celebrate, "We are absolutely thrilled, we all know how good a team England are. For us, it was important to check what plans we have with the World Cup coming. It was the ideal chance and situation to step up and show what we had.
We all know what talent Pant has, he played the situation, and we had to make a partnership. The way he finished was special."