Ajinkya Rahane smashed his maiden ODI century as India clinched their first 50-over series win on English soil in 24 years after thrashing the hosts by nine wickets in the fourth one-dayer to take an invincible 3-0 lead in the five-match series, here today.
India last won a bilateral ODI series in England in 1990. Back then, the tourists won both the matches in the two-match series -- at Leeds (by six wickets) and Nottingham (by five wickets).
Opting to bowl today, the visitors first restricted England to a modest 206 and then overwhelmed the target in 30.3 overs to record their third consecutive victory in the ODI series at the the Edgbaston, in what turned out to be yet another lopsided contest.
While Rahane destroyed the pedestrian English attack with a 100-ball 106 with the help of 10 fours and four sixes, an woefully out-of-form Shikhar Dhawan (97 not out; 11x4s, 4x6s) also re-discovered his touch as the opening duo put on 183-run partnership off 28.4 overs to lay the foundation for the comfortable win.
It was a dramatic turnaround for India after the shambolic 1-3 drubbing in the recent Test series, in which the batsmen struggled to cope up with the swinging ball.
Earlier electing to bowl, Indian bowlers produced a disciplined effort to bundle out England for a below-par 206 with Moeen Ali's 67 being the top-score for the hosts.
Ali's second ODI fifty guided England to a score of respectability as the hosts were bowled out in 49.3 overs as they wasted a perfect first-use of a good batting surface with only three batsmen crossing the 20-run mark.
Ali faced 50 balls, hitting four boundaries and three sixes, while Mohammad Shami (3-28) ended up as India's best bowler on the day. He was ably supported by Bhuvneshwar Kumar (2-14) and Ravindra Jadeja (2-40), while R Ashwin (1-48) and Suresh Raina (1-36) were the other wicket-takers.
Playing his first ODI, Dhawal Kulkarni (0-35) went wicket-less in his seven overs.
Rahane took the lead early-on as Dhawan took his time settling down. The former was quickly off the blocks as he struck four boundaries in the fifth over bowled by James Anderson (0-38).
It helped the scoring rate quite a bit and when Dhawan got going as well, India's first 50-run mark came up in good time in the 10th over. It was incidentallly also the first 50-run partnership by an Indian opening pair on this tour.
Rahane, who has moved up from number four in light of Rohit Sharma's injury, scored his fifty in style off 60 balls with the help of six fours and two sixes, hitting Moeen Ali (0-40) for maximum off the first ball of the 18th over. Three balls later, he brought up his 100-run stand with Dhawan.
The big-hitting Dhawan did play some lusty shots as well, hitting his first six in the 21st over off Anderson and bringing up his first half-century of the tour and his eighth ODI fifty overall. He got to the mark off 57 balls with the help of seven fours.
Their charge towards victory-line continued unabated as the English bowlers had no answer to the duo's unabashed hitting on a placid wicket. The pair brought up their 150-run stand in the 25th over off just 149 balls.
Rahane really accelerated after reaching his half-century, scoring his next 50 runs off only 36 balls with another four boundaries and two sixes. He got to his maiden land-mark in the 28th over off 96 balls.
Just when it appeared that the two would finish the job as India took the batting power-play in the 29th over, Rahane was dismissed after a splendid innings, caught by Cook off Harry Gurney (1-51).
Vice-captain Virat Kohli (1 not out ) then came to the crease but there wasn't much for him to do as Dhawan hit two more sixes along with three fours in a space of nine balls to wrap up the match with 19.3 overs to spare.
Earlier, skipper Alastair Cook (9) and Alex Hales (6) started out for England, but after two half-century opening stands, they didn't get off to a good start this time.
Despite the wicket looking the best for batting so far in this series, the Indian bowlers kept a tight leash on the pairing. Cook looked to break free with a couple of boundaries in the fourth over but it wasn't enough.
Kumar bowled an impressive opening spell of eight overs, with figures of 2-14 along with three maiden overs. And he accounted for both the openers in the fifth over, first bowling out Hales with a sharp in-swinger and then having Cook caught at gully by Suresh Raina. The double-blow became more intense when Shami got rid of Ballance (7) three overs later.
It was a repeat of England's poor ODI performances in the series as a disaster loomed large. Dhoni didn't bring his spinners on early when the pitch had a little more moisture in it. It was only in the 18th over that spin was first introduced in the form of Ashwin as England didn't reach the 50-run mark until the 19th over of the innings.
However, Eoin Morgan (32 runs, 58 balls, 3 fours) and Joe Root (44 runs, 81 balls, 2 fours) rebuilt the innings in this interim period with an 80-run partnership for the fourth wicket.
Their 50-run stand came about in the 23rd over when Root also completed 1000 runs in ODI cricket, but the scoring rate was very sluggish as the first 25 overs of the innings yielded 87/3 with only nine boundaries.
It got even slower as there were no boundaries for the next 11 overs while there were two more wickets that completely derailed the innings.
Morgan was the first to go, in the 29th over off Jadeja, falling into the leg-side trap as he hit the ball straight to Raina at leg-slip, bringing Dhoni's favourite position into play for the first time on this tour. Four overs later, Root committed hara-kiri, going for a non-existent reverse-sweep off Raina as England were reduced to 114/5.
It brought Ali and Jos Buttler (11) together, and the former hit out to help build a quick 50-run partnership for the sixth wicket off only 39 balls. It provided some much needed relief for England who were otherwise struggling to put the ball away, bringing in 41 runs during the batting power-play.
They did lose Buttler during that period, given out LBW wrongly by umpire Paul Reiffel. But Ali carried on and duly brought up his half-century in the 43rd over, the first by an English batsman in this five-match series.
He could only add another 17 runs though, bowled by Ashwin in the 47th over. In between, Chris Woakes (10) was run-out by a great direct throw from Raina at short third-man bringing an end to his 30-run stand with Ali.
Steve Finn (2) was accounted for by Jadeja and Shami bowled Gurney (3) thereafter as England were bowled out for a below-par score with three balls remaining in their innings. James Anderson (1 not out) was the unbeaten batsman, and was once again booed by the large Indian gathering at the crowd when he had come out to bat.
Previously, India had won the third ODI in Nottingham by six wickets and the second ODI in Cardiff by 133 runs (D/L) to take a 2-0 lead in the five-match series. The first ODI in Bristol was washed out by rain without a ball bowled.