Mohali: India held their nerves in a close finish to win the third one-day international against England by 5 wickets and thereby take an unassailable 3-0 lead in the five-match series.
After putting up a healthy 298 on the board, England bowlers failed to keep a lid on the scoring. And though the visitors came back with some quick wickets towards the end of Indian innings, MS Dhoni (35 not out) and Ravindra Jadeja (26 not out) had the cool head to take Indian home in the last over.
Thumped in Hyderabad and thrashed in Delhi, the tourists were a more convincing, cohesive unit this time around, but still didn't have enough in the tank to keep the series alive. Instead, they must head into ODIs four and five with only face-saving pride to play for.
Winning the toss and electing to bat, Jonathan Trott's superb, unbeaten 98 not out, Kevin Pietersen's form-finding 64 and Samit Patel's cavalier 70 not out collectively cranked through a score of 298 for four.
Trott missed on a century by two runs as he remained not out on 98, facing 116 balls and hitting nine boundaries. Patel played a rapid innings of 70 not out off 44 balls, studded with seven boundaries and two sixes. Kevin Pietersen and Trott’s 101-run stand for the fourth wicket set England a good platform for a big score.
Trott added 103 for the unbroken fifth with Patel, who hit two sixes and seven fours as England plundered 91 runs in the last 10 overs.
Earlier skipper Cook, who fell for zero in the second match, failed once again when he was trapped leg-before by Vinay for three in the fourth over.
Craig Kieswetter made amends for his low scores in the first two matches by pounding two sixes and three boundaries in a quickfire 36 before he was bowled by part-timer Virat Kohli in the 13th over.
Pietersen and Trott battered the Indian bowling till the 29th over when the hosts ended the century partnership through a content_cnious decision by umpire Sudhir Asnani.
Asnani, standing in an international match for the first time since 1999, declared a stunned Pietersen leg-before even as the tall batsman stretched forward to defend a ball from Ravindra Jadeja.
England managed just 30 runs for the loss of Ravi Bopara's wicket --bowled by Praveen Kumar for 24 -- in the batting power-play between the 36th and 40th overs.
Chasing a stiff target of 299, Ajinkya Rahane and company, though, took it in their stride. The opener landed an ODI career-best 91, while Gautam Gambhir continued his superb stretch of form with a measured 58. Parthiv Patel's 38 and Virat Kohli's 35 made up the numbers, leaving Mahendra Dhoni and Ravindra Jadeja to seal the deal with 35 not out and 26 not out respectively.
All but dead and buried at 190 for one in the wake of Gambhir and Rahane's 111-run alliance for the second wicket, a quick brace from Steven Finn and Graeme Swann's return to the attack pulled England back into the contest.
Dhoni and sidekick Jadeja, however, held their nerve to cross the line with four balls to spare on the back of a cool, calm and collected 65-run stand at a rate of 8.47 to the over.
Craig Kieswetter had a day to forget. The wicketkeeper dropped a sharp chance offered by Gambhir when the left-hander was on 17, grassed a sitter when Kohli had four and fluffed a near sure run-out when the match still hung in the balance.
The fourth one-dayer gets underway in Mumbai on Sunday.
(With agency inputs)