Graeme Swann of England celebrates scoring the winning runs during the 3rd Natwest One Day International match between England and India at The Kia Oval on September 9, 2011. (Getty Images)
London: England beat India by three wickets via D/L method in the rain-affected third ODI to take a 2-0 lead in the series after a rain delay revised their target to 218 in 43 overs here at the Kia Oval on Friday.
It ultimately boiled down to England's depth in batting as all-rounders Tim Bresnan (28) and Ravi Bopara (40) came to their rescue when they lost two quick wickets after the rain delay.
India fought back through their spinners Ravindra Jadeja (2/42), who also earlier scored 78 runs, and R Ashwin (3/40). But England had it under control and reached the target with seven balls to spare.
Rain halted play when England were 95/3 in 20 overs after India scored a competitive 234/7 in their 50 overs. No more play at that stage would have declared England winners by five runs but the rain relented to let play resume after a delay of around 45 minutes.
Earlier, openers Alastair Cook and Craig Kieswetter brought up England's fifty in the ninth over, with Kieswetter in particular severe on the bowlers with three sixes.
Munaf Patel, though, got India the much needed breakthrough as he dismissed the in-form Cook (23) lbw. And England's healthy start soon wore a concerned look when Dhoni introduced his spinners into the attack.
Ravindra Jadeja and R Ashwin struck in successive overs to bring India back. First it was Jadeja who bowled Kieswetter for 51 and then Ashwin followed it up with Jonathan Trott's (11) dismissal, who was bowled as well, in the very next over.
But rain stopped play just when India were clawing their way back into the match with their spinners.
Bell came out playing his strokes and struck Jadeja for two successive fours. However, some smart work by wicketkeeper Dhoni caught Bell napping as the Indian skipper threw down the stumps when Bell (23) and Stokes stuttered for a quick single.
Ashwin then made it a double blow after the rain delay when he bowled Stokes (20) around his legs.
But Bopara and Bresnan once again showed their value with the bat as they pulled England out of the tricky situation with a 60-run partnership. Bresnan was the first to depart when Jadeja went through his defences with England just 25 runs away from the win. Stuart Broad then joined Bopara but the latter too fell ten runs short of the target. Jadeja got that breakthrough, which was his second of the day.
Broad (5 not out) and Graeme Swann (9 not out) prevented any further stutters to get home in 42.5 overs.
In the afternoon, fighting half centuries by Dhoni and Jadeja helped India recover from a top-order collapse and post a competitive 234/7.
England drew first blood in the first over itself when James Anderson got the wicket of in-form Ajinkya Rahane. After negotiating two balls from Anderson, the 23-year-old Rahane edged the third to Trott in slips.
Anderson then played a role in sending Rahul Dravid back by running India's No. 3 out after he had scored just two. The 29-year-old then clean-bowled a fidgety Parthiv Patel (3), who tried to get off the blocks aggressively but misjudged the line of delivery.
In doldrums at 13/3, Suresh Raina and Virat Kohli tried to put India's house in order but could take the score only as far as 25 when Anderson's swing accounted for Kohli (18).
Skipper Dhoni's stint started aggressively as he drove handsomely for a boundary, and with Raina also hitting Anderson for a pick-up six, it looked the duo will row India out of trouble waters after team's fifty came up in the 16th over.
But Raina (21) attempted one shot too many. Broad pitched one short that angled away from the left-hander, whose slog ended in an edge pouched by Kieswetter.
After Anderson's early strikes, it was now up to Dhoni and comeback man Jadeja. The duo checked the fall of wickets, moving the scoreboard safely to hundred in the 29th over, which was soon followed by Dhoni's half century that came off 69 balls with five boundaries.
But for some reason, even after being well set, the Indians slowed down between overs 35 to 43. During that period, Jadeja's impressive return turned into a half century and 100-run partnership with the skipper. At the end of the 43rd over, Dhoni chose to take the batting powerplay.
But just when India wanted Dhoni to stay, the skipper top-edged Tim Bresnan to perish for 69, which also ended the face-saving sixth-wicket partnership of 112 runs.
Ashwin then joined Jadeja with a license to use the long handle, and the off-spinner did it to good effect with his 36 not out off 19 balls, including five boundaries.
Jadeja also played the big shots, helping India score 51 runs in the batting powerplay. Jadeja fell in the final over for a well-made 78, but not before he and Ashwin had propelled India to a fighting total.