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Captain Jos Buttler hits half-century as England set India 260 to win ODI series
Buttler produced his highest score since taking over the captaincy.
Jos Buttler anchored England’s innings in their one-day international series decider against India, registering his first fifty since becoming his country’s full-time white-ball captain.
Buttler was struck on the helmet twice in the same Mohammed Siraj over, but he moved through the gears at his home ground of Emirates Old Trafford and England’s 259 all out in 45.5 overs owed much to their skipper’s 60 off 80 balls.
While there were several important cameos, England’s bid to set an unassailable total in this third and final match – with the series level at 1-1 – was undermined by wickets falling in clusters, as Hardik Pandya took an ODI best four for 24.
If England thought they had dodged a bullet in Jasprit Bumrah’s absence due to back spasms, that was quickly put into perspective as his replacement Siraj exploited a hint of movement, with Jonny Bairstow getting a leading edge to mid-off while three balls later Joe Root was squared up and nicked to slip.
Jason Roy (41 off 31 balls) drove expertly then clipped twice to take 12 off his first four deliveries while Ben Stokes (27 off 29) was bullish as they led the recovery from 12 for two to 66 without further loss, but the introduction of Pandya set England back.
Roy was unsure of which stroke to play and skied a top-edge while Pandya then dragged his length back after seeing Stokes on the charge, with England’s Test captain only able to loop a return catch. The hosts lurched to 74 for four, with Pandya’s figures in his first spell 4-3-2-2.
Buttler was watchful at first and twice rattled on the helmet after being beaten for pace by Siraj, but he connected with a pull in the fast bowler’s next over before lofting Yuzvendra Chahal over long-on for the first of his two sixes. Moeen Ali also got in the act by taking 18 in an over off Siraj.
Moeen departed for 34, caught down the leg-side off Ravindra Jadeja, but Buttler moved to a 65-ball half-century, not his slowest but one of his more sedate efforts and his first since succeeding Eoin Morgan last month.
Liam Livingstone (27) fizzed with a couple of pulled sixes, putting a hole in a makeshift wall in front of a construction site before clearing it with a monstrous effort to the longer side. But as he attempted to take down the returning Pandya again, he merely picked out Jadeja at deep square-leg.
Three balls later and Jadeja was back in action again, sprinting to his left and taking a fine low catch to see off Buttler, with Pandya again the bowler.
England might have subsided quickly but David Willey (18) and Craig Overton (32) put on a useful 48 for the eighth wicket. Both holed out off Chahal, who then bowled Reece Topley through the gate to finish England’s innings with 25 balls unused.
Even so, England still recorded the highest score of the series so far.