Bairstow keeps England afloat, India's unbeaten run ends

Jonny Bairstow (111), Jason Roy (66) and Ben Stokes (79) star with bat to set 338-run target for India; Virat Kohli and Co. reply with 306/5.

Published : Jun 30, 2019 23:49 IST , Birmingham

Jonny Bairstow runs for a quick two while batting with Jason Roy in the World Cup match against India in Birmingham on Sunday.
Jonny Bairstow runs for a quick two while batting with Jason Roy in the World Cup match against India in Birmingham on Sunday.

Jonny Bairstow runs for a quick two while batting with Jason Roy in the World Cup match against India in Birmingham on Sunday.


"I am one among the five per cent England fans at the ground!,” stated a tongue-in-cheek tweet from a home team follower as a packed Edgbaston buzzed with excitement while the host and India clashed in a key World Cup fixture. In the end, the five per cent at the ground had a Sunday to celebrate while a sea of blue lapsed into silence.

England amassed 337 for seven and restricted India to 306 for five.  It was India’s first defeat in the current World Cup while Eoin Morgan's men found a toehold to stay alive thanks to their 31-run win.

India started nervously as Rohit Sharma, on four, edged Jofra Archer but Joe Root dropped him at second slip while K.L. Rahul spooned one back to Chris Woakes. Virat Kohli, walking into thunderous applause, drove Archer and Rohit struck Mark Wood on either side of the pitch and as the partnership developed, the two clattered fours off Liam Plunkett.

As it happened

The duo’s mastery became evident as Kohli, wrists and moving feet, flicked Ben Stokes and Rohit cut Adil Rashid. Kohli’s fifth fifty on the trot was etched. Rohit wasn’t too far behind and the two played percentage cricket, picking their fours, running hard and revealing a defensive blade when a delivery demanded respect. There were bursts of exquisite shot-making too, be it Kohli picking his spots on the off-side or Rohit stringing a garland of three fours off Stokes through a pull and two square-drives.

Just as the 138-run second-wicket partnership seemed primed for more, Kohli (66) fell, his leaning drive looping up to backward point. Next-man Rishabh Pant, who replaced Vijay Shankar following the latter’s toe injury, threatened a run-out but Rohit calmed the youngster. The two shared a 52-run partnership during the course of which the vice-captain registered his third century (102) in this World Cup. After that a tired slog off Woakes grazed the edge and Rohit retreated.   

Rohit Sharma.

India 198 for three in 36.1 overs, adrift by 139 runs, needing more than 10 per over and a nervous crowd prayed to the Hindu pantheon as religious chants rent the air. Hardik Pandya pounded Woakes for three fours while southpaw Pant tried an uppish flick down the leg-side off Plunkett and watched Woakes pluck a stunner near fine-leg — a sprinting, gravity-defying catch.

India was 226/4 in the 40th over when Pandya and M.S. Dhoni joined forces. Pandya split one through a diving Rashid’s palms at backward point but there was no miracle to be savoured. As the required rate quadrupled in the final stretch, the all-rounder fell and for Dhoni, it became a tale of too much to score with too few a deliveries at stake. 

Liam Plunkett was the pick of the England bowlers with figures of 3/55.

Earlier, Morgan elected to bat and the England innings prospered through the efforts of centurion Jonny Bairstow (111, 109b, 10x4, 6x6), Jason Roy (66) and Stokes (79). Initially, openers Roy and Bairstow maintained a frenetic pace. Roy thumped two fours off Mohammed Shami’s first over but also inner-edged the speedster nearly onto the stumps. Bairstow too did a similar act and survived.

Kohli employed Yuzvendra Chahal from the sixth over, swapped the ends of Shami and Jasprit Bumrah and yet there was no respite. Roy smote Chahal and when the opener tried to pull Pandya, Dhoni collected, the bowler appealed, Kohli mulled about a review but the former India captain opposed it. The snickometer hinted an edge! On 21, Roy celebrated with a six and four.  

Bairstow proved that he too could trigger mayhem — a minimal back-lift exploded into a blazing stroke. He hammered the spinners and Kuldeep Yadav wasn’t spared either. India found relief finally when Roy tried to heave Kuldeep over long-on and found a diving Ravindra Jadeja, substituting for an injured Rahul.

England opener Jason Roy lends a hand to Hardik Pandya while Jonny Bairstow looks on.

Root then dropped anchor and Bairstow extended his plunder. On nervous 99, he missed a Pandya bouncer but the next ball was patted for a valuable single. Having been caught up in a self-stirred media storm, Bairstow’s redemptive joy was evident. Eventually, he perished to Shami.

Mohammed Shami in action.

Subsequently, Morgan top-edged a hook off Shami, who bowled some niggardly overs, got caned in the slog and still managed a five-for. Root and Stokes bided their time and the latter dug into Chahal, pulling and reverse-hitting. The southpaw and Root added 70 for the fourth wicket before Shami scalped the former. In the end, the audacity of Stokes and Jos Buttler’s cameo ensured that the 300-mark was breached and India had a mountain to scale.       

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