Curran carries England close but India still secure ODI series

By Sports Desk March 28, 2021

England came up just short in the third ODI despite the best efforts of Sam Curran, meaning India secure a 2-1 series triumph to complete a clean sweep in all formats.

Shikhar Dhawan, Rishabh Pant and Hardik Pandya all hit half-centuries as India - who had rallied to win 3-1 in the Tests, then 2-1 in the Twenty20 games – were bowled out for 329 in 48.2 overs.

Bhuvneshwar Kumar struck twice in the powerplay on his way to figures of 3-42, while Shardul Thakur claimed 4-67 in an England reply that looked doomed at 257-8.

However, with Mark Wood as an able ally, Curran continued to take the fight to India, making 95 not out. His defiant hitting – which included nine fours and three sixes - reduced the equation down to 14 from the final over, yet left-arm paceman T Natarajan held his nerve to seal a seven-run victory.

For the first time in the series, England had failed to build a foundation in a run chase. Openers Jason Roy and Jonny Bairstow had put on 135 and 110 in the previous two games, only to both fall cheaply to the impressive Kumar in the finale.

Ben Stokes made 35 and Dawid Malan (50) hit a maiden ODI half-century – during which he added 60 with Liam Livingstone (36) - but wickets continued to fall regularly, leaving India in control.

Curran capitalised on some poor fielding to keep his side afloat – the hosts dropped four catches – but England were unable to end their tour on a winning note.

Having seen their opponents chase down a target of 337 with more than six overs to spare last time out, India adopted a more aggressive approach with the bat at the start of the day.

Openers Rohit Sharma (37) and Shikhar Dhawan zipped along at faster than a run-a-ball rate in a century stand that was eventually ended by a superb delivery from Adil Rashid, who bowled the former with a googly.

Rashid also dismissed Dhawan for 67 two overs later, while fellow spinner Moeen Ali cleaned up Virat Kohli cheaply with one that turned sharply to surprise India's captain, who saw his team slip from 103 without loss to 157-4.

However, Pant and Pandya went on the offensive in a 99-run stand that was eventually ended when wicketkeeper Jos Buttler reacted quickly to take an edge from Pant, who fell to Curran for 78 off just 62 deliveries. Pandya followed not long after for 64, bowled by Stokes.

Wood claimed three late wickets as India were bowled out with 10 deliveries to spare. It turned out they still had enough runs, despite Curran's heroics providing a thrilling finish to England's tour.

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    Tsonga, who reached a career-high ranking of world number five in 2012, confirmed in April that he would retire at the culmination of his French Open campaign.

    That duly came in the first round on Tuesday as he bowed out to world number eight Casper Ruud 6-7 (6-8) 7-6 (7-4) 6-2 7-6 (7-0).

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    A video tribute was played on court after his defeat to Ruud, which featured messages from the sport's most iconic players.

    Federer said: "I wanted to congratulate you on an amazing career and it was a pleasure to share the court with and play against you, even to lose against you!

    "We had some great battles. Enjoy the moment in Paris with all your friends and family, in front of all your adoring spectators."

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    "I wish him all the best, and he definitely should be happy about his career and his achievements. He's made his mark and his legacy in our sport."

    Nadal said: "He is very charismatic. I've known him since we were kids; he is a good guy and I think he brings a lot of positive things to our sport so I'm sad to see him going but we are getting old so it's going to happen for everyone."

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    "This is what I'm going to miss – the contact with the crowd. And with those who have been supporting me for all these years.

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    Tsonga, who reached a high ranking of world number five, confirmed in April that he would retire at the culmination of his French Open campaign.

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    That confirmed the end of Tsonga's long career. He bows out having won, according to Opta, 464 Tour-level matches since September 2004.

    Tsonga is one of just three players, along with Andy Murray and Juan Martin del Potro, to have beaten Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic while they were ranked world number one.

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    Tsonga also became the first player since Guillermo Canas in 2002 to defeat four straight top-10 players at a Masters 1000 tournament when he triumphed in Toronto in 2014.

    "It's tough for me and all the players that you're stopping. You've been an inspiration to me and so many of the other players, so thank you for the memories," Ruud told Tsonga after the match.

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