India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni on Thursday praised his top-order batsmen for taking the home side to a series-clinching five-wicket victory over England in the third one-dayer here.
India reached the 299-target set by the English side with four balls to spare with Dhoni hitting two consecutive boundaries off the first two deliveries of the last over bowled by Tim Bresnan.
"I think it was a very good performance. The middle-order did not bat so well but the upper middle order did the job for us. The openers batted really well. Ajinkya Rahane and Gautam Gambhir set the platform with their partnership," said Dhoni after the match.
"The way Rahane batted along with Gambhir in the middle after the start was crucial. We lost wickets at the wrong time though, and we had to get another partnership going. They batted really well," the skipper added.
After Rahane (91) and Gambhir (58) raised a solid foundation, Dhoni (35 not out off 31) and Ravindra Jadeja (26 not out off 24) provided the finishing touches, adding 65 runs for the unseparated sixth-wicket stand to seal the issue in India’s favour at the PCA stadium.
Dhoni said the bowling department still needs to improve as all the Indian bowlers bled runs today barring left-arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja.
"We gave away too many boundaries and an opportunity to the opposition to score near 300-plus score. We gave away a few too many boundaries with the ball. We still need to improve," he said.
Asked whether the ODI series win was a sweet revenge for India, who were whitewashed in all formats of the game in the full tour of England this summer, Dhoni said, "In England, it’s not like we went down without doing anything especially in the one-dayers. The youngsters did a very good job there, though our bowling department struggled a bit."
"We are backing ourselves to chase whatever the opposition scores, and we have been doing that," he added.
England captain Alastair Cook admitted that his team’s close defeat was hard to swallow.
"It’s a tough defeat to take especially when the game was so close. Our fielding has been slightly below par, which is unusual for us, and today it cost us 20 to 25 runs in the field and that made the difference between the two sides," he said.
"Six an over is always a tough chase, but credit to the way Dhoni and Jadeja finished that off," Cook added.
Man-of-the-match Ajinkya Rahane said he was determined to perform well in this match after failing to do much with the bat in the last few one-dayers.
"Last few games were not good for me and I was determined to do well in this game. The partnership between me and Gambhir was very crucial and we just waited for the loose deliveries to come. I played my natural game, backed myself and enjoyed my game," he said.(PTI)