India lose, fail to reach tri-series final

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Perth: In what was being being touted as the dress rehearsal for the World Cup, India miserably failed to reach the tri-series final Down Under as they lost the virtual semi-final by three wickets to England at the WACA here Friday. England will now play the final against hosts Australia here Sunday.

India failed to win even a single game out of four in the league stage with one One-Day International (ODI), against Australia, being washed out.

Put in to bat, India folded up for a mere 200 in 48.1 overs with opener Ajinkya Rahane top scoring with 73. Though England were made to struggle by the reigning World Champions, a 125-run sixth-wicket partnership between James Taylor (82) and wicketkeeper-batsman Jos Buttler (67) guided them home in only 46.5 overs.

In the morning, Rahane was the standout performer. His and Shikhar Dhawan’s (38) opening-wicket partnership of 83 runs was the only bright spot in an otherwise dreadful Indian batting performance.

Rahane and Dhawan were slow off the blocks, playing with a lot of caution. But they gained confidence after negotiating the initial overs. Rahane was more aggressive of the two and lived a charmed life with most of his lofted shots landing in no-man’s land.

But following the first dismissal of Dhawan in the 21st over, India lost all other wickets like a pack of cards. Virat Kohli’s (8) wicket in the 28th over opened the floodgates with Suresh Raina (1) perishing just two overs later as India were reduced to 107/3.

Ambati Rayudu (12) looked sublime briefly but failed to capitalise on his start. Rahane’s wicket, in the 36th over, put tremendous pressure on the shoulders of captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni (17), who also failed to cope with the pressure and was dismissed with the score at 164.

Dhoni, Ravindra Jadeja (5) and Axar Patel (1) fell in the space of a run as India was reduced to 165/9.

However, Mohammed Shami (25) played a vital cameo in the end, adding 35 runs for the final wicket with Mohit Sharma (7 not out), to lend some respectability to India’s total. A few edges and some lusty blows from the bat of Shami helped India reach the 200-mark.

All English bowlers were amongst the wickets with Steven Finn taking three while Stuart Broad, Chris Woakes and Moeen Ali chipping in with two each.

England had bowled out India for 153 in the previous match and went on to win by nine wickets.

While bowling, India got the perfect start they needed to defend their meek total. Some good line-and-length bowling from Stuart Binny (3/33) and Mohit Sharma (2/36) saw England tottering at 66/5 by the 20th over.

However, Taylor and Buttler steadied the England ship by knocking around, taking the ones and twos. This kept the scoreboard ticking and also helped build their significant partnership which took the game away from India.

Taylor scored his fourth half-century playing in his 10th ODI while Buttler’s relatively aggressive innings made him reach his fifth half-century. Taylor patiently anchored the innings with a 122-ball knock which included four boundaries while Buttler stroked seven boundaries in his 78-ball innings.

By the time the two got out, England had already reached the 190s and were only a few runs away from the target which was achieved by the tail-enders.

Indian bowlers bowled well, restricting the run rate and picking up wickets but the score was too less to defend.

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