England down India to keep Cricket World Cup hopes alive

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With their backs to the wall, England were victorious against the previously undefeated India in a high-stakes Cricket World Cup encounter at Edgbaston.

Centurian Jonny Bairstow and the returning Jason Roy got England off to the perfect start with an opening partnership of 160.

India fought back in the middle overs epitomised by Mohammed Shami’s 5-54.

Nevertheless a speedy 79 from Ben Stokes propelled the hosts to 337-7.

An underwhelming India were behind from the get go and were always behind the run rate, as England cruised to victory by 31 runs to keep their World Cup hopes alive.

In their two acrimonious losses, England had sorely missed their star opener, Jason Roy. And returning to the side after injury, he made an immediate impact in the first over with two driving fours through the covers.

Bairstow made a nervous start, demonstrated by his extra-tight grip on his bottom hand. On two occasions he nearly knocked back onto the stumps with thick inside edges, which both went for four.

Watch Episode 4 of The Cricket World Cup Experience here.

After making a solid start in the opening powerplay, Bairstow and Roy began to accelerate through the gears, finding the boundary with big fours and sixes.

It was six by Bairstow over deep mid wicket which brought up his fifty and the century-partnership. He followed that up with another six down the ground to bring the run rate up to 7.

England scored another 12 runs off the next over, in which Roy brought up his half-century off 41 balls, and then hit a huge six over long-on.

Both were starting to see the ball like a football and hitting it like a golf ball. Roy and Bairstow were back to playing the way which made England the best team in the world.

After seeing off the new ball, the pair were ruthless in the middle overs, particularly against the spinners.

Bairstow brought up the 150 for England as he danced down the pitch and hit Kuldeep for another six.

Roy eventually fell in the 23rd over when he attacked Kuldeep with a cracking shot down the ground, but substitute fielder Ravi Jadeja pounced like a lion and took a superb catch.

Bairstow now in the zone started to use his reverse sweep to great effect. He reached an excellent century in the 26th over off only 90 balls.

With England bringing up 200 in the 30th over, 400 really looked like a possible score. But a shift in momentum was about to take place.

First Bairstow was caught out at deep point from a full off-side delivery from Mohammed Shami, bringing to an end his fantastic knock of 111 off 109 balls, which included six sixes and ten fours.

Shami struck again to dismiss Eoin Morgan. Sensing that the England captain was vulnerable against the short-ball, he peppered him with bouncers. He found a Morgan top-edge which flew to Kedar Jadhav at fine leg who took a difficult catch.

It was an excellent second spell from Shami in which he took two wickets for three runs. This formed the basis of a fightback from India’s bowlers, who only conceded 9 runs in overs 31-35.

Ben Stokes continued in the same vain as the previous two matches and he impressed with his aggressive and muscular strokeplay.

After a barren period without a boundary for England, a brilliant reverse sweep by Stokes in the 38th over was the start of a onslaught in the final overs.

In a sign of what was the come in the final powerplay, in the 40th over, he hit a slog sweep for four. He followed this up later with a ridiculous reverse sweep for six, with 15 being scored in the over.

The final powerplay was a tale of two ends. At one end, Bumrah produced some fine economical death-over bowling. He demonstrated his skill with his ability to consistently bowl yorkers.

At the other end though, Chahal and later Shami were hit by Stokes for boundaries. And when he could not find the rope, he and Root ran impressively between the sticks to keep the score accumulating.

Root got out playing a paddle shot which carried all the way to fine leg and Hardik Pandya ran around the boundary to take a brilliant catch. Shami got another wicket, and it brought to an end a fine innings of 44 off 54 by Root.

Buttler made an immediate impact with his arrival, when he hit his second delivery for six over deep mid-wicket.

After bringing up his fifty in the previous over, Stokes and then Buttler went on the offensive against Shami in the 47th, which went for 17 runs.

On the final ball of the over Shami held onto a Buttler skier at the second attempt to dismiss the pinch-hitter.

Despite being expensive at the end, Mohammed Shami, who had been impressive in the middle overs, achieved his five-wicket haul with the dismissal of Chris Woakes in the penultimate over.

Stokes continued to punish Shami though, with 15 runs coming off the 49th, and it was only in the final over when Stokes lost his wicket.

England put pressure on the Indian batsmen from the off. Chris Woakes began with three maidens in a row.

The second of these was a wicket maiden in which he caught and bowled KL Rahul, who departed for a duck from 9 balls.

Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli struggled for rhythm and timing and India finished with opening powerplay with 29-1, the lowest score at this World Cup.

Realising that India needed to up the ante, Sharma hit Mark Wood for two fours in the 12th and India brought up their fifty in the 14th.

Virat Kohli began to find his groove and starting hitting some of his authoritative cover drives. He reached his half-century in the 18th over.

Three fours in two overs from Rohit Sharma showed that he was finding his timing, and India brought up their 100 in the 22nd over.

The 26th was a big over for India. Rohit Sharma hit three fours in a row as India scored 13 runs from the over. India needed more like this.

Another thing that India most desperately needed was for Kohli to convert his fifty into a century. But for the fifth time in a row it was not to be.

Kohli square cut a Liam Plunkett delivery straight to James Vince at backward point, and departed for 66 off 76.

Rohit Sharma however, did go on to score a ton. At the start of the innings he had seemed out of sorts but he had fought through the tough period and had not seemingly found his timing.

He however edged a Chris Woakes slower ball behind to Jos Buttler to depart for 102 runs off 109 balls.

Rishabh Pant and Hardik Pandya played with the right intent. Both scored at above 100 strike rate and Pandya hit three consecutive crunching fours in the 39th from Chris Woakes.

As India were approaching the final powerplay, the graph of India’s run chase was taking an upward curve, and their line was starting to meet England’s.

Pant however was caught out in the 40th over trying to hit Plunkett for six over deep square leg.

Pandya and MS Dhoni added another 41 runs before Pandya also fell to Plunkett, caught out at long on.

In the most depressing of anti-climaxes, with the required rate at two runs a ball, MS Dhoni and Kedar Jadhav did not seem to go for the big finish, content to just run singles, as much of the Indian crowd left early for the turnstiles.

India’s unbeaten streak at this World Cup has now come to an end. They did not seem like the same critical team in this match.

They made the mistake of trying to restrict Bairstow and Roy of runs by bowling length deliveries. They might have had far more success bowling fuller and trying to take wickets.

England put Kuldeep and Chahal under immense pressure and nullified the threat of their mystery spin. At the end, Mohammed Shami was expensive and in the absence of Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah lacked an effective bowling partner at the death.

The vulnerability of KL Rahul as an opener was once again exposed and India struggled to get going like they usually do in the opening powerplay.

Furthermore, the Indians lacked big hitting further down the order to see out a run chase as MS Dhoni is lacking form and Kedar Jadhav struggled to hit big shots.

In this match, England seemed to be back to their best. With Roy back at the top of the order and Bairstow playing well, they looked like a different team.

Fort the third time in a row, Stokes contributed with a significant innings when the stakes were high. They looked like the team which soared to the top of the ODI rankings.

Woakes was impressive with the new ball and Archer was difficult to score off. With Plunkett in the team, they had a bowler in the middle overs who can stifle run scoring and take wickets.

With Mark Wood and Ben Stokes, that means that England effectively have five fast bowlers that they can call upon.

England go back into fourth place in the table, but will probably still need to defeat New Zealand to secure that semi-final place.

With England bouncing back in style with this victory and New Zealand very much on the downward trajectory with two losses, England will fancy themselves to get the job done at Chester-le-Street on Wednesday 3rd July.

2 thoughts on “England down India to keep Cricket World Cup hopes alive

  1. Who, and why, has it been proposed that India deliberately threw the game against England to keep Pakistan out of the top 4 places?

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    1. This is not what my article implies, I hope. But the reason why I think some fans have said this is because they think that India almost gave up at the end. In an IPL match 16 runs an over in the final overs is not a problem. India seemed content to go for singles. Furthermore, Pakistan needed India to win and England to lose. So many Pakistani fans have said that India threw the match to prevent them getting to the semis.

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