KOLKATA: Ben Stokes hit a brisk half-century and then picked up three crucial wickets to help England to a tense five-run win against India in the third and final one-day international at the Eden Gardens on Sunday.
It was a consolation victory for England and their first on their tour of India after they lost the five-test series 4-0 and both previous ODIs.
Opener Jason Roy hit 65, his third consecutive fifty, before half-centuries from Jonny Bairstow (56) and Stokes took England to 321-8 after India won the toss and chose to field.
England seemed set for a comprehensive win despite an injury to seamer David Willey as India lost their top five batsmen for 173 but Kedar Jadhav (90) and Hardik Pandya brought the hosts back in the match with a sixth-wicket stand of 104.
With India needing 16 off Chris Woakes’ final over, Jadhav, who scored a century in the first ODI at Pune, smashed the paceman for a six and a four but was then caught by Sam Billings at deep cover after two dot balls. The hosts finished on 316-9.
Stokes’s last visit to Eden Gardens last April ended in a personal nightmare as Carlos Brathwaite smashed him for four consecutive sixes in the final over to win the World Twenty20 title for West Indies.
On Sunday, the seamer first dismissed India’s best batsman Virat Kohli for 55 before returning to remove Pandya for 56 and break his dangerous partnership with Jadhav.
India had just taken 16 runs off Woakes in the 47th over and needed 27 in 18 balls when England captain Eoin Morgan called on Stokes to bowl his final over.
Stokes gave away just four runs, added the wicket of Ravichandran Ashwin to his tally and finish with 3-63.
Earlier, Roy and Billings (35), who replaced the injured Alex Hales, gave England a strong start with an opening partnership of 98.
Left-arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja sent both the openers back in quick succession but Bairstow, brought into the side for the injured Joe Root, and captain Eoin Morgan kept England flowing with an 84-run stand for the third wicket.
Stokes provided the late flourish with four boundaries and two sixes in his 39-ball 57.
India and England will now play three Twenty20 internationals, starting with the first match on Thursday.