India's 183-run opening stand in the 4th ODI, punctuated by Rahane's maiden ODI ton and Dhawan's 97*, not just won India the series but also sent a World Cup warning to all. (Getty Images)
If the bowlers were clinical with their performance, openers Ajinkya Rahane and Shikhar Dhawan were equally calculative in planning India's run-chase of 207 runs. Coming out of a shoddy Test series, India are a different team in coloured clothing and the results are there for everyone to see.
Birmingham pitch was an ideal setting for batting with bright sunshine, ball not doing much off the pitch [except when England batted first] and both the openers exploited the conditions nicely to guide India to a thumping nine-wicket win. The hero was definitely Rahane as he notched up his maiden ODI century but Dhawan's unbeaten 97 can't be ignored either.
The unfortunate finger injury was Rohit Sharma's loss but Rahane's gain, as he grabbed the opportunity with both hands to give the Indian team management and MS Dhoni a new opening option keeping the World Cup in mind.
Rahane's comfort opening the innings could also encourage India in moving Rohit to the middle order in near future and in the post-match presentation also Dhoni too supported the idea.
"Rahane was always someone who was third in line for the opening slot and he has made the most out of it. He is a good timer which makes it slightly easy for him. It's a spot that suits him.
"Rohit is a very talented guy and we are not making any decisions [on opening] as yet," Dhoni said.
The target of 207 looked easy considering the formidable batting line-up of India but they needed a perfect start. India were cautious and had scored only four runs from four overs until Rahane opened up by slamming James Anderson for four boundaries in the fifth over.
Rahane played proper cricketing shots and offered the straight bat, moreover he timed the ball really well. The flicks, drives, late cuts were all coming off well for Rahane and in between he was also not afraid to come out of the crease. Especially, the six he hit off Anderson over long on coming down the track.
The half-century for Rahane came off 60 balls and at the other end Dhawan was batting on 36 but looking quite settled down in the middle. With nothing much on offer for the bowlers, Dhawan made good use of this chance and remained patient to latch on the bad deliveries.
Full marks to Rahane, who judged the track well and started playing the shots, which inspired Dhawan having spent considerable amount in the middle by that time to play his natural game.
After bringing up his fifty, Dhawan never looked like he had been struggling for runs in the last few games, his feet were moving well and more importantly he was attacking the bowlers. Surely, an in-form Dhawan augurs positive signs for India in the future series.
The century from Rahane was a brilliant one and would have been a satisfying one with India winning the match and series. But it was Rahane and his innings that carried Dhawan along through to come out of the hole.