Kolkata : Skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni led from the front with a blazing unconquered 75 off 69 balls as India recovered from a top order slump to post a challenging 271 for eight in 50 overs against England in the fifth and last One-day game of the series at the Eden Gardens here Tuesday.
Dhoni played a finely balanced knock embellished with three fours and four sixes on course to his 43rd ODI half-century in 196 matches. He started off cautiously picking up singles and twos with neat placements before hammering the English bowling in the slog stage when 84 runs came off eight overs and 39 from the last two.
All his sixes came towards the end, beginning with two towering hits in the 43rd over off spinner Graeme Swann as India set England a stiff target of 5.44 runs per over to avoid a whitewash on a slow track where the odd ball posed problems for the batsmen.
Dhoni was also involved in three useful partnerships - 39 with Suresh Raina (38), and 44 each with Ravindra Jadeja (21) and Praveen Kumar (16).
For England, left-arm spinner Samit Patel (3-57) was the most successful bowler.
The hosts, who have already sealed the series with an unassailable 4-0 lead, seemed in trouble at 80 for three after losing seasoned opener Gautam Gambhir (38), in-form Virat Kohli (0) and the young Ajinkya Rahane (42) in the space of 10 balls.
From 80/0 after 17 overs, with Gambhir and Rahane going great guns, India suddenly were reduced to 80/3 in 18.4 overs, as silence descended among the 25,0000 odd crowd at the stadium.
Gambhir, who got a life at 25 with wicketkeeper Craig Kieswetter dropping a diving chance, played on to his stumps, while Kohli saw his stumps shattered by pacer Steven Finn. Kieswetter took an edge offered by Rahane off an away going ball from Tim Bresnan.
However, local boy Manoj Tiwary (24) and Suresh Raina (38) started the process of recovery with a 43-run stand in 8.4 overs before the Bengal right hander nicked to Kieswetter off pacer Stuart Meaker.
England suffered a heavy blow as seasoned batsman Kevin Pietersen was ruled out with a chipped thumb which cleared the decks for Ian Bell to play his first match of the series. Swann, who was kept out of the team in Mumbai, also made his way back in place of Scott Borthwick. (IANS)