Hardik Pandya’s all-round magnificence and Rishabh Pant’s 125 not out off 113 balls carried India to a five-wicket win in their one-day international series decider against England.
Pandya dismissed Jason Roy and Ben Stokes in an outstanding opening burst before returning to take the wickets of Liam Livingstone and Jos Buttler in the same over to finish with an ODI-best four for 24.
Buttler top-scored with 60 off 80 balls in England’s 259 all out in 45.5 overs, but that was put in the shade by Hardik’s 71 off 55 deliveries in a decisive 133-run stand with Pant at Emirates Old Trafford.
While Reece Topley followed up his England record six for 24 on Thursday with the prize scalps of Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan and Virat Kohli, Pant and Pandya expertly led the recovery from 72 for four.
The pair offered chances but grew in confidence with temperatures reaching 30C and, while Hardik departed with 55 required, Pant’s unbeaten ton featuring 16 fours and two sixes got India over the line with 7.5 overs to spare.
A carnival-style atmosphere greeted Pant’s maiden ODI century, in which he accelerated after going past 50. He mixed orthodox strokes with his own unique brilliance, giving England a lesson after they failed to bat out their 50 overs for the third time in a series they lost 2-1.
After being asked to bat first, Roy settled with an authoritative punch, the first of three fours in Mohammed Shami’s opening over.
But if England were relieved at Jasprit Bumrah’s absence, it was quickly put into perspective as his replacement Mohammed Siraj exploited some early movement to find the edges of Jonny Bairstow and then Joe Root.
Roy continued to assert himself and Stokes was bullish in a 54-run union off 47 balls, but Pandya put the brakes on in a terrific opening spell of 4-3-2-2. Roy skied a top edge to depart for 41, while a charging Stokes got in a tangle after Pandya dragged his length back and offered a return catch on 27.
Buttler was fortunate a couple of uppish drives landed short of fielders, while he was too late on the hook twice and clattered in the helmet by Siraj. He did better in the next over, pulling confidently before lofting Yuzvendra Chahal for the first of his two sixes.
Moeen Ali briefly sparkled but was caught down the leg-side for 34 after a 75-run stand with Buttler, who went to a 65-ball 50 soon after, not his slowest effort but one of his more sedate and his first since succeeding Eoin Morgan as England white-ball captain on a full-time basis.
Livingstone was punchy but perished in the deep on 27 looking for his third six off the returning Pandya, with Buttler holing out three balls later before England’s 200 was up.
David Willey (18) and Craig Overton (32) made useful contributions down the order and, though 25 balls went unused in England’s innings, their hopes grew as Topley picked up where he left off at Lord’s.
Dhawan’s bat turned in his hands as he skewed to backward point, Rohit nibbled at a delivery angling away from him, as did Kohli, whose luckless run across formats was extended after another low score.
Suryakumar Yadav nicked off to Overton, who then blotted his copybook by straying too far in-field from fine leg and watched Pandya’s pull bounce inside the rope, just after Pant had been reprieved on 18. Advancing to Moeen, Pant was beaten by lavish turn, but Buttler failed to take the stumping chance.
They were costly misses, with the India pair unfurling some glorious drives down the ground against England’s rotating cast of bowlers. Hardik, comfortable on front and back foot, was particularly assured and reached a 43-ball 50 first before Pant got to his off 71 deliveries.
Neither batter took any undue risks and it was only when Pant was in his 70s that he thumped Overton for India’s first six. By now England were haemorrhaging boundaries, but they at least prised out Pandya as Stokes took a sensational low catch diving forward from midwicket.
The wicket failed to dampen the enthusiasm of Pant, who moved into the 90s with a slog sweep high over deep midwicket although he miscued on 97, the ball just evaded the leaping David Willey at midwicket.
After reaching his 106-ball ton – his second 50 came off just 35 deliveries – Pant was in no mood to hang around. Willey disappeared to all parts as he conceded five fours in as many balls before Pant ended proceedings with a reverse sweep for four off Root.