India’s veteran batsmen sink England’s one-day hopes

India's Yuvraj Singh celebrates scoring his 14th ODI century at the Barabati Stadium in Cuttack. Picture: Aijaz Rahi/AP
India's Yuvraj Singh celebrates scoring his 14th ODI century at the Barabati Stadium in Cuttack. Picture: Aijaz Rahi/AP
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Eoin Morgan’s defiant century was not enough to prevent England losing the second one-day international against India, who sealed the series with a 15-run victory in Cuttack.

Morgan’s bullish 102 in 81 balls answered questions about his continued value to the side emphatically but it was not enough to keep pace with the hosts, who saw veterans Yuvraj Singh (150) and Mahendra Singh Dhoni (134) roll back the years with magnificent tons of their own.

It was another bruising day for the bowlers, India’s old favourites rescuing them from 25 for three to 381 for six and the tourists making their highest ever second innings score of 366 for eight.

A 256-run stand between Yuvraj and Dhoni effectively settled things in India’s favour and came with added significance for the 35-year-old duo – Yuvraj reaching three figures for the first time since the 2011 World Cup and Dhoni showing he would not be entirely ceding the spotlight to Virat Kohli just yet.

For England the margins are clear: for the second time in four days they have failed to capitalise on early wickets, this time by the impressive Chris Woakes, and they trail the century count 4-1.

Jason Roy, Joe Root and Moeen Ali all backed up Morgan with half-centuries but even more is required on docile surfaces.

Furthermore the selection gamble of dropping Adil Rashid did not come off, with his replacement Liam Plunkett shipping 91 runs.

In Woakes’ first five-over spell he took out KL Rahul, Shikhar Dhawan and England’s bogeyman Kohli while conceding a meagre 13 runs.

Kohli lasted only five balls as he nibbled at a full outswinger and was brilliantly caught at second slip by Ben Stokes.

Stokes had earlier caught Rahul, but England’s plans came to nothing against the calm control of Yuvraj and Dhoni.

Yuvraj was dominant with 35 of their first 50 runs and 73 of their first 100. Dhoni saved his bullying best for later, eventually smashing six sixes, but for now was happy to watch his partner’s powerful pulls and drives.

Yuvraj’s most pleasing strokes disappeared for six and four over extra-cover but it took a jogged single to end his long wait between his 13th and 14th ODI tons.

When it was England’s turn to bat Alex Hales was an early casualty of the daunting target but Roy and Root gave the innings legs with a busy partnership worth exactly 100 at better than a run a ball.

Root (54) was first to go, stretching too far on the sweep to give Ravichandran Ashwin success with his fifth delivery. Roy motored on to 82 and seemed primed for more when he lost his off stump to Ashwin. Morgan was at the crease by then but the cheap dismissals of Ben Stokes and Jos Buttler by Ashwin put him in charge of a sinking ship.

He joined Moeen (55) to wipe 93 from the deficit but when the latter’s luck ran out courtesy of an inside edge off Bhuvneshwar Kumar, it was a one-man mission. Morgan put his recent bad form behind him to keep things just about credible – 113 off the last ten overs boiled down to 33 off the last two – but after striking five sixes and eight fours his departure came with a whimper at the non-striker’s end, run out backing up.

The cause, and the series, was lost but not without a considerable fight and brilliant entertainment.