England all-rounder Ben Stokes admitted his satisfaction at laying the demons of the World Twenty20 final to rest as his side recorded a pride-salvaging victory over India in the final one-day clash in Kolkata.
With England on the cusp of T20 glory in April, Stokes was left distraught as West Indies hard-hitter Carlos Brathwaite smacked him for four successive sixes in the final over to snatch victory from England’s grasp.
On his return to Eden Gardens, Stokes not only struck an unbeaten 39-ball 57 as England racked up 321-8 from their 50 overs, but also dismissed key man Virat Kohli on his way to figures of 3-63.
Fellow all-rounder Chris Woakes held his nerve during the final over, at the start of which India needed 16 runs for victory, as England won by five – only their fourth success in 26 one-day tussles in India. The series ended 2-1 in India’s favour.
“There was a bit of banter flying around with the lads in the warm-up days leading up to this so it was nice to come back here and get rid of any bad memories from that final,” said man of the match Stokes.
“There’s still plenty of improvement personally that I want to correct with the ball. I’ve been very expensive over the last how ever many series we’ve been playing.
“Consistency is the thing I’m trying to work on, because any sign of a bad ball and the top players in the world are going to pounce on it and punish you.”
Limited-overs skipper Eoin Morgan, whose side have eight more one-day showdowns before the start of the Champions Trophy in June, tipped Stokes to use his latest show-stopping performance as a launchpad for further success.
“I reckon he’s more in the tank,” said Morgan. “He’s an incredible player to have in the side. I always say it’s a luxury to have a player like him in your team. He gives you everything he’s got on the day, which is a lot.”
England were without injured top-order pair Alex Hales and Joe Root, who were absent with hand and groin injuries respectively, but built a competitive score on a surface which offered movement and bounce to the seamers.
Their innings was underpinned by half-centuries from opener Jason Roy (65), the recalled Jonny Bairstow (56) and Stokes, whose late hitting allied to an entertaining cameo from Woakes (34) saw England to 321-8.
England have consistently made inroads into India’s top order this series without pressing home their advantage. On this occasion, the tourists reduced India to 173-5 as seam quartet David Willey, Jake Ball, Stokes and Liam Plunkett all chipped in.
But Kedar Jadhav, slayer of England during the first one-day game in Pune, came to India’s rescue with a 75-ball 90, sharing a potentially match-defining stand of 104 with Hardik Pandya, who hit 56.
The duo navigated India to the business end, although a flurry of dismissals followed Pandya’s removal, while Jadhav was the final wicket to fall as Woakes struck in the final over as India were restricted to 316-9.