The rise of Kedar Jadhav and Hardik Pandya in the three-match ODI series against England was a great "demo" for the Indian team ahead of Champions Trophy, said captain Virat Kohli on Sunday. Jadhav could not manage to take India home in the third ODI in Kolkata but was adjudged the man-of-the-series for his 232 runs in the series. Along with all-rounder Pandya, he raised a 104-run partnership for the sixth wicket but India fell short by 5 runs chasing 322 on a tricky wicket at the Eden Gardens.
"Definitely, it has been a series of positives even today, 173 for 5, two youngsters step up almost get us through the line, fighting back against good quality fast bowlers. It was a great demo for the Champions Trophy," Kohli said at the post-match presentation ceremony.
The young Indian captain said it was a good omen for India that youngsters were taking responsibility to finish the game while playing down the order.
"Jadhav is brilliant find for us. We've backed him over the last year, he hasn't had many games, but he is coming into his own, he gives Yuvi and Dhoni the chance to bat higher and he reads the game well, it's priceless and Hardik is coming into his own as all-rounder as well," Kohli said.
"The moment I saw the pitch I thought it was the perfect scenario for the Champions Trophy. The batsman had to show character and getting as close as five runs gives us a lot of confidence."
Asked to point out which area India need to focus ahead of Champions Trophy in UK in June, Kohli said the fast bowlers need to learn hitting the right line and length.
"The key for us will be the lengths we bowl. We've been playing at home for a while. Even here we weren't sure. That's one area we would look to address, what are the areas we need to hit to get batsmen out."
England captain Eoin Morgan was a relieved, finally having a win under his belt.
"It's been hard work in a very competitive series. Today we were rewarded for our persistent drive to win. The pitch was similar to an English wicket and when you lose the toss, you have to do it the hard way and the dew was very tough to deal with. Jason Roy and Sam Billings did well at the top of the order for us. The bowlers make the captain look good," Morgan said.
Explaining the approach of their fast bowlers, Morgan said the Eden Gardens wicket helped them execute their plans well.
"Giving a wicket that offered more, helped them and actually rewarded them for good, discipline line and length. We were always open to what we wanted to do. The bowler has his options as well. I think because there was bounce and carry, when you hit a good length, there was something on offer. So we encouraged them to hit the wicket hard and try and extract anything in there," he said.
"India outplayed us in the first two games but this win was important. You can try hard but without wins it damages the team's confidence."
Jadhav, who scored 90 runs today, he planned to play all six balls of the last over, in which India needed 16 runs. "I was planning to play all six balls, I knew if I could do that the bowler will be under pressure. Just that the ball I got out to, I was not in position to hit the big shot, I was still moving and that is why I mistimed," he said.
Asked about his cool and calm demeanour under pressure, the Maharashtra batsman credited MS Dhoni for his transformation.
"The thing is, since the time I came in the team, I've been spending a lot of time with Dhoni and it has helped me deal with situations calmly."
Jadhav said he and Pandya planned to play till the end. "First game when I was in the middle, with Virat, this is the time where you can learn how to finish games and that is what I told Hardik as well. If we play to our potential through the end, we would win. I was more happy if we would have won this game but I am satisfied with what I have done in this series. I can still improve."
Ben Stokes was the Man of the Match for his 57 off 39 and 3 for 63 in his 50th ODI.
"It was a difficult time last time we came here, put it down to good captaincy from Morgan getting my overs out of the way before the end. It was difficult to start, the ball was not necessarily going through the top, but it was going a bit."
(With inputs from PTI)