Mumbai: England's weakness against spin cost them for the third time in the series as they unravelled from a strong position to post an underwhelming total on a slow turning pitch in Mumbai. Their fast bowlers struck three early blows but Virat Kohli and Suresh Raina motored to a 131-run stand at close to seven an over, showcasing the difference between the sides and sparking another needless bout of words in the middle as England's frustration overflowed.
It was England's own batsmen who had let down their ragged bowlers down when they caved in against spin in the afternoon. R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja took 5 for 79 in 20 overs between them after Jonathan Trott and Kevin Pietersen had built on England's quickest start of the series.
Vinay Kumar broke the 73-run stand between Trott and an uncharacteristically subdued Pietersen, then Jadeja and Ashwin worked their way through a clueless England middle order, striking three times in six overs. Tim Bresnan took the score past 200 with a run-a-ball 45, but England were dismissed with 23 deliveries remaining when fast bowler Varun Aaron bowled Bresnan to finish with three wickets on debut.
Disciplined pace bowling led by the impressive Steven Finn kept England in with an outside chance at the start of the chase. Kohli and Raina kept the runs coming, though, not allowing the score of 46 for 3 to tie them down in a partnership that steadily at first, and then emphatically, pushed England out of the match, making a 5-0 whitewash ever more likely.
Finn and Bresnan had started with testing spells that kept the India openers quiet. The first five overs produced only 17 runs, leading Parthiv Patel to whip across the line and lose his stumps to Finn. Finn struck again in his next over when Gautam Gambhir inside-edged onto his stumps. His opening spell of 5-0-10-2 was followed by a sharp burst from debutant Stuart Meaker that induced Ajinkya Rahane into a poke outside off stump only for wicketkeeper Craig Kieswetter to take a leaping one-handed blinder.
Scott Borthwick, the young legspinner surprisingly chosen ahead of Grame Swann, bowled with heart, but it was unfair to expect him to have the same effect that the experienced Swann could have managed. Kohli and Raina continued almost unbothered, picking off the singles easily and finding the boundaries with crisp shots. The duo's approach was in sharp contrast to England's tottering line-up.
Despite India being three down at the start of the bowling Powerplay, Raina took the chance and chipped Meaker just over mid-off for a boundary. His innings grew into a blur of scythes through extra cover and swings down the ground before Finn bowled him after a missed slog during a heated over. Raina had surged to 80 by then and with Kohli easing into elegant drives and cuts, India were runaway winners with almost ten overs remaining.
England's fate had virtually been sealed when their middle order tried to sweep and slog-sweep their way out of trouble. Pietersen was one of three batsmen to fall on the shots, though the substitute fielder Manoj Tiwary was responsible for sending him back with a diving catch after running across from deep midwicket.
Ravi Bopara missed one from Jadeja to be caught in front and Jonny Bairstow's disappointing series continued when he was bowled by a ripper that pitched on leg and turned to hit off stump. Samit Patel and Bresnan tried to salvage something from 145 for 6 but Patel slog-swept Ashwin straight to deep midwicket in another disappointing batting Powerplay for England.
Aaron, who had consistently hovered above 140kph on debut, came back to run through the lower order, hitting the stumps three times, the last of which straightened past Bresnan's outside edge to clip the top of off, with England well short of a challenging total on a turning pitch without Swann.
Things hadn't looked as gloomy for England when Pietersen and Trott accumulated solidly in a steady partnership that helped them recover after Alastair Cook and Kieswetter departed off successive deliveries. Though Pietersen went hard at deliveries and mistimed his strokes at times, Trott kept the runs flowing, cutting Jadeja three times to the deep point boundary. Trott welcomed Vinay's second spell with a cracking drive that beat the cover sweeper easily but was dismissed two deliveries later. Pietersen continued to find the field and the India spinners soon got on top decisively, yet again.