India vs England: The loss is a wake-up call

Team India had beaten its other opponents with ease before meeting England. The loss in Edgbaston has sent out message to players that this is unlikely to be their last tough match of the tournament

India vs England: The loss is a wake-up call

Biswadeep Ghosh

The weather was good and so was the wicket at Edgbaston in Birmingham, the venue of the 100th ODI match between England and India. Before the match began, the two teams had met seven times in the Cricket World Cup’s previous editions. England had won thrice, India thrice, with one match ending in a tie in 2011.

The eight World Cup encounter between the two teams turned out to be England’s day. The hosts registered a comfortable 31-run victory, ending India’s unbeaten streak while ensuring that they still have a chance of making it to the semi-finals.

Playing their penultimate group stage match, England were assertive for the most part. Batting first, they scored 337/7, posing a stiff challenge for the Indian batsmen. India weren’t out of the match until Hardik Pandya got out after playing another of his quick cameos. The all-rounder scored a 33-ball 45 before Liam Plunkett dismissed him with the last delivery of the 45th over with the score reading 267/5.

What followed was inexplicable. Neither Mahendra Singh Dhoni nor Kedhar Jadhav showed intent, picking up 20 singles in their 31-ball partnership when the team needed boundaries and sixes to surpass the target. There was a suggestion of meek surrender in the manner in which the two of them batted, which pleased nobody. India, in the end, fell short by a fair distance.

Team India’s response to the target wasn’t bereft of highlights. KL Rahul’s nine-ball stay a duck ended quickly. But Rohit Sharma and skipper Virat Kohli’s 138-run partnership for the second wicket laid the foundation for the chase. Kohli scored a fluent 76-ball 66, his fifth consecutive half-century in the tournament. On a day when his team had a mountain to climb, however, he needed to touch the three-figure mark. Sharma went further, scoring a 109-ball 102, his third century in the tournament.

A major talking point was the inclusion of young Rishabh Pant, an important move considering India’s search for a batsman for the number four position. Pant replaced Vijay Shankar, promised much in his 29-ball 32, but got out when he seemed set for more. What was good to see during Pant’s brief knock was the absence of discomfort on the big stage.

England’s batting is their bigger strength, which showed in the manner in which they played against India. Batting with authority and aggression, openers Jason Roy (57-ball 66) and centurion Jonny Bairstow (109-ball 102) stitched together a marvellous 160-run partnership for the first wicket.

In spite of the failure of skipper Eoin Morgan (1) and the brilliant Joe Root (44) losing his wicket just when he was beginning to threaten, what was remarkable was the ease with the runs were scored. Ben Stokes (54-ball 79) gave the perfect finishing touches towards the end of the innings, which allowed England to reach 337.

Indian bowlers had a mixed day. Two of them delivered standout performances – and for varying reasons. Jasprit Bumrah, by far the best, showcased his delightful variations and also demonstrated the matchless worth of the good old yorker from time to time. His final figures of 1/44 didn't do justice to his bowling, which forced the English batsmen to play him watchfully.

After two consecutive four-for spells against Afghanistan and West Indies, Mohammed Shami picked up five wickets this time. The flip side of his spell was that it cost 69 runs. It was he who dismissed Bairstow and Morgan with the score reading 205 and 207, respectively, giving India the opportunity to put a check on England’s rate of scoring.

Although he went on to pick three more wickets, he was guilty of bowling the wrong length at the death and went for 17 and 15 runs in his last two overs. That not only nullified the good work of Bumrah at the other end but also allowed England to post a bigger total than they would have.

Neither of the two spinners impressed. Yuzvendra Chahal strayed repeatedly and gave away 88 runs in his ten overs, his most expensive ODI spell ever. Kuldeep Yadav went for less, but his figures of 1/72 wasn’t respectable either. Pandya, the third seamer, gave away 60 runs without being among the wickets.

Barring a surprisingly tough match against Afghanistan, Team India had beaten its other opponents with ease before meeting England. The loss in Edgbaston has sent out a message to players that this is unlikely to be their last tough match of the tournament.

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