England finally sealed the first win of their gruelling winter tour of India on Sunday (22 January). The tourists, who were brushed aside 4-0 in the five-match series before losing both opening one-day internationals, finally gave fans something to cheer about by winning a nail-biting third and final ODI contest in Kolkata.
Ben Stokes and Chris Woakes were the main men for England, with the former laying to rest memories of that infamous closing over in last year's World Twenty20 final when he was struck for four straight sixes by Carlos Brathwaite. Far more impressive this time around at Eden Gardens, the Durham all-rounder earned man of the match honours after striking 57 runs from 39 deliveries before providing some excellent death bowling and finishing with figures of three for 63.
"It was a difficult time last time we came here but put it down to good captaincy from [Eoin] Morgan to get my overs out the way this time around," Stokes told Sky Sports after the win.
England received solid contributions from the likes of Jason Roy, Jonny Bairstow and Morgan after losing the toss and being put into bat, but there was a sense of disappointment that no-one was really able to kick on and post a huge score.
Roy and Sam Billings put on an opening-wicket stand of 98 and Morgan and Bairstow combined for 84. Stokes and Woakes' late efforts helped to boost England's relatively meagre total to 321-8, with Ravindra Jadeja and Hardik Pandya the pick of India's bowlers.
Openers Ajinkya Rahane and KL Rahul were lost early in the subsequent chase, while captain Virat Kohli was dropped by Jake Ball before nicking behind off Stokes for 55. Yuvraj Singh was five short of his half-century when he was caught by Billings in the deep. MS Dhoni was unable to make a significant contribution, but Kedar Jadhav and Pandya combined to make things very interesting indeed.
That swift and profitable partnership ended on 104 when Stokes crucially bowled Pandya for 56. Jadeja hit a couple of boundaries before being caught by Bairstow off Woakes, who then combined with Stokes to remove Ravichandran Ashwin and leave India needing 27 runs from the final 18 balls. That target was later reduced to 16 from six after a penultimate over from Ball.
Jadhav, whose 76-ball 120 and 200 partnership with Kohli helped India to sensationally chase down a target of 351 in the first ODI in Pune seven days ago, then proceeded to smash 10 in two shots before a crucial couple of dot balls from Woakes.
Jadhav then fell for 90, requiring Bhuvneshwar Kumar to hit a six from the final delivery when an attempted big shot was well caught by Billings. Needless to say he did not get it and England were left to celebrate a morale-boosting triumph.
With the ODIs now complete, the two sides will reconvene in Kanpur on Thursday (26 January) for the first of three Twenty20 international matches.