When Alastair Cook won the toss and chose to field, it looked like another chance for Ajinkya Rahane to impress in his first international series. But one of India's few bright spots perished off the fourth ball of the game, tentatively edging James Anderson to slip, and India had lost their first wicket with just a run scored. Anderson and Tim Bresnan choked India's scoring, and things got worse for the tourists when Rahul Dravid was run out for just 2. Anderson bowled Parthiv Patel (10/3) to completely wreck India's top order. Suresh Raina struck India' first boundary in the 9th over, but Virat Kohli gifted his wicket to become Anderson's third victim; and with four batsmen down for just 25, India's mission to save the game - and the series - was all but lost.
Under enormous pressure, Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Raina set about salvaging the innings. Raina attacked to take India's score past 50, but threw his wicket away to Stuart Broad for 21, and India's recovery was checked at 58/5. It fell to Dhoni and Ravindra Jadeja to try and pull something together, which did for the next 25 overs. While England kept a tight leash on them, Jadeja and Dhoni took the score over 100. They gradually grew in confidence, with the Indian captain leading from the front with a valuable 50*, as India steadily moved past 150.
Jadeja reached his own half-century, but Dhoni fell shortly after, to Tim Bresnan for a game-saving 69. With Ravi Ashwin joining Jadeja at the crease, the two launched an astonishing counterattack on England's bowlers. First, Jade Dernbach went for 4, 0, 4, 3, 4, 4 to boost India from 174/6 to 193/6. Hitting from Ashwin took India over 200, and then it was Anderson's turn to suffer: 1, 4, 4, 2, 1, 4. India scored 51/1 in the final PowerPlay. Even when Jadeja went in the final over for a valiant 78, it was Ashwin who led India's way, with an unbeaten 36* off just 19 balls, as the tourists finished on a decent 234/7.
England started solidly, with Alastair Cook content to rotate the strike and let Craig Kieswetter do the big hitting, two 6s off Praveen Kumar. Cook didn't miss out, taking Munaf Patel for consecutive boundaries; but Patel struck back to remove Cook for 23 (after being hit for another Kieswetter maximum). England already 63/1 after 10 overs, with the chase well in hand by that point.
Kieswetter survived a return chance off Patel and went on to make his 50, but fell to Ravindra Jadeja to keep India in the game. Jonathan Trott went the next over to make it 89/3. With the game evenly poised, the rains came down - for the third time in three games - to reduce England's target to 218 in 43 overs. Ian Bell and newbie Ben Stokes put England ahead of the required run rate, but Bell fell to a brilliant piece of fielding by Dhoni behind the stumps, retrieving the ball from the leg side to run the England batsman out for 23. Stokes went the next over to put India right back in the game, with England 133/5.
Tim Bresnan and Ravi Bopara fought back, keeping up with the required rate; but with the equation slightly under a run a ball needed, Bresnan was gone for 20. 25 runs needed off 24 balls, and Bopara held his nerve to take England over 200. But after putting England in front, he was gone for a well-made 40 to leave England needing 10 from 13 with three wickets left. That was enough for Graeme Swann and Stuart Broad to finish the game, winning by three wickets and going 2-0 up in the series.
Consider this: from the doldrums of 58/5, India recovered to post 234/7, a healthy score and an amazing recovery, one worthy of victory... except on this tour, when nothing India does will give them an elusive win. With a series victory now impossible, the most India can hope for is to try and find at least one measly win in their remaining two games to give their fans something to cheer about.
And consider this: England have mightily delivered on their promises of being a world class team under Andy Flower's coaching. There's no better way of sealing the deal by shutting India out. Can India pull it together for at least one win? Or have the World Cup winners lost their spirit?
India: 234/7 (Ravindra Jadeja 78, James Anderson 9-1-48-3) in 50 overs, at 4.68 runs an over
England (target 218 runs from 43 overs): 218/7 (Craig Kieswettter 51, Ravi Ashwin 9-0-40-3) in 41.5 overs, at 5.21 runs an over
England win by 7 wickets and lead the four-game series 2-0
Man of the Match: Ravindra Jadeja