First, England allowed India to recover from 203 for five to 317 in the final 10 overs, with KL Rahul and Krunal Pandya producing some stunning hitting.
More grievously, England collapsed from 135 without loss after just 14 overs to 251 all out. Jason Roy and Jonny Bairstow continued to build on their remarkable ODI record together but, when their opening partnership was broken, England collapsed in a heap.
A pair of debutants were central to India’s win. Following the arrivals of the likes of Washington Sundar, Axar Patel and Suryakumar Yadav across different formats in recent months, Krunal (58 not out from 31 balls, 1-59) and Prasidh Krishna (4-54) settled immediately at ODI level.
India are not easily beaten. Rahul and Pandya had saved India from a collapse of their own. Shikhar Dhawan put on 64 with Rohit Sharma, then 105 with Virat Kohli. But Kohli fell to Mark Wood as India looked to accelerate, and three more quick wickets – including Dhawan for 98 – followed.
Rahul and Pandya’s assault, which saw them smash 11 fours and six sixes, knocked England’s death bowlers off their length. The pair put on 112 in just 61 deliveries to transform the complexion of the match.
Nevertheless, as Roy and Bairstow raged away in fashion reminiscent to the build-up to the 2019 World Cup, it appeared England might chase 318 down with time to spare. This was their 12th stand of more than 100 in 42 ODI innings opening together. Bairstow was in particularly brutal form, taking Krishna’s third over for 22 and taking on Kuldeep Yadav’s wrist-spin.
Krishna fought back brilliantly, though. He returned for his second spell and had Roy caught at point for 46 – his highest score since the World Cup – and England’s new No3 Ben Stokes – who had earlier taken three for 34 – caught at cover in his next over.
Next ball, Eoin Morgan was dropped at slip by Kohli. A few overs later, Bairstow took on Shardul Thakur – chasing an eighth six that would have taken him to his century – and was caught on the fence. In his next over, Thakur dismissed Morgan and Jos Buttler to leave England on the ropes.
Sam Billings – who, like Morgan, had overcome a fielding injury to bat – and Moeen Ali rebuilt, putting on a steady 41. But Prasidh returned to pick up Billings, while Bhuvneshwar Kumar gutted the lower order, starting with Moeen.
India had fought back once more in a game that had ebbed and flowed. With two matches remaining in the series, the world champions have no margin for error.