New Delhi:India clinched the seven-match series against England, edging out the visitors by 19 runs via Duckworth-Lewis method in the rain-curtailed fourth ODI on Sunday.
Put into bat in what was India's 700th ODI, the hosts witnessed two lengthy rain interruptions before reaching 166 for four wickets in 22 overs, a score they owe mainly to Virender Sehwag (69), Gautam Gambhir (40) and Yuvraj Singh (25 not out).
Needing 198 for a win under the Duckworth-Lewis method to stay afloat in the seven-match series, England managed 178 for eight as India took an unassailable 4-0 lead in the series. For them, Owais Shah (72) and Andrew Flintoff (41) tried their best but it was not enough in the end.
With Ishant Sharma pulling off a stunner to send back in-form Ravi Bopara (1) off Munaf Patel, England hardly got the ideal start and crisis compounded when Ian Bell (12) too returned cheaply after Harbhajan Singh had upset his timberworks.
Much was expected of Kevin Pietersen (5) but Ishant cut short the England captain's stay by pegging back his stumps to reduce the visitors to 52 for three.
Owais Shah got a life when Gautam Gambhir grassed a sitter off Harbhajan and the England batsman went on to add 72 runs with Flintoff in eight overs but just when the match looked like slipping through India's fingers, Zaheer Khan removed Shah for a crucial breakthrough. Shah had hammered 72 runs off just 48 balls with nine fours and three sixes in it.
And once Flintoff fell to Ishant in the next over, India had pretty much sealed the fate of the match.
Earlier, England skipper Kevin Pietersen put India in and had reasons to feel vindicated when Stuart Broad marred Sachin Tendulkar's comeback party by castling the Mumbaikar for 11. Gambhir had to drop down to number three to accommodate Tendulkar at the top but the left-hander looked equally comfortable in this slot as well.
Gambhir flicked the first ball he received, from Broad, to the ropes and then hit the pacer for three boundaries in the same over to continue his rich vein of form.
It was, however, his senior partner Sehwag who outshone all with his characteristic belligerence. To make it worse for the visitors, stumper Matt Prior was guilty of not going for an edge that could have sent Sehwag back in the hut when he was batting on 16.
On 27, Sehwag once again enjoyed the fortune of the brave. The right-hander responded to a call from Gambhir and apparently changed end just in time but replays showed his bat off the ground and him airborne when the throw hit the stumps. Surprisingly, no English player appealed for a run out and Sehwag went on to punish them for the lapse.
Runs started coming thick and fast but with Sehwag five runs away from his 32nd fifty and India 82 for one in 14 overs, heavens suddenly opened up with the players scurrying for cover.
When play resumed after two hours, a streaky shot off Broad yielded two runs as Sehwag cantered to his 50 and celebration followed immediately as he hit the next two balls for a four and a six.
With Sehwag in no mood to relent and Gambhir on song, India cruised to 106 for one in 17 overs when heavy drizzle held up play again and by the time they returned to the field after three hours, the match was reduced to a 22-overs-a-side affair.
Under pressure to make the most of the remaining five overs, Sehwag blasted the first ball from Samit Patel for a six before holing out to James Anderson off Graeme Swann. Sehwag's 57-ball 69 was studded with nine hits to the fence besides three sixes.
Gambhir was on song too but with just five overs to go, the left-hander had no other option but to throw his bat at everything and he too perished in the deep off Swann but not before chipping in with 40 off 37 balls.
With no time to get his eyes in, Yuvraj hocked Pietersen for two sixes in the same over and sent Swann over the ropes as well.
Along with Yuvraj, Yusuf Pathan also remained unbeaten, having hit the only ball he faced from Samit Patel for a six.