Jonny 'Blaze' Bairstow tunes up in style for World Cup

Bairstow scored his maiden ODI hundred in only his second match as an opener in 2017 after having made his debut in 2011. Since then, he has racked up six more centuries, all of them at more than a run-a-ball.

Jonny Bairstow acknowledges the crowd after reaching his 100 against Pakistan.   -  REUTERS

England ODI opener Jonny Bairstow heads into the World Cup in blazing form, one that he has sustained in the last two years.   

The wicketkeeper-batsman's blistering 128 (93 balls) in Bristol paved the way for England's crushing six-wicket win against Pakistan in a 359-chase on Tuesday. This was England's second highest chase in ODIs. Bairstow's century outshone Pakistan's Imam-ul-Haq's 151 in the first innings.

Bairstow's form, he scored 445 runs in 10 matches in the Indian Premier League (IPL), and England's batting department filled with power-hitters, make the side a heavy favourite in the World Cup on home soil beginning May 30.

World Cup: Full schedule

Not too long ago, the Yorkshireman had struggled to find a permanent place in the ODI side. Between September 2011, when he made his debut, and June 2017, Bairstow played just 26 ODIs. He had no three-figure scores to his name and had just five half-centuries, playing across different positions in the batting order, but never as an opener.

He was given the opportunity to open in the semifinal of the 2017 Champions Trophy against Pakistan, where he scored 43 in a losing cause.

No.HundredsOppositionBalls required to reach 100
1100 (97)West Indies97
2141 (114)West Indies90
3138 (106)New Zealand88
4104 (60)New Zealand58
5105 (59)Scotland54
6139 (92)Australia69
7128 (93)Pakistan74


Incidentally, Bairstow had smashed 174 off just 113 balls against Durham while opening the innings for Yorkshire in the Royal London Cup a month before the Champions Trophy.

Since then, the England team management has stuck with him in the top two, and he has repaid their vote of confidence with consistently blistering starts.

Bairstow scored his maiden ODI hundred, against the West Indies, in only his second match as an opener. Since then, he has racked up six more centuries, all of them at more than a run-a-ball. The 29-year-old is also the first English cricketer to score three back-to-back ODI hundreds.

Bairstow had his first taste of the IPL this year when he turned out for Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) and forged a dominating opening partnership with Australia's David Warner. He had to leave the tournament before the playoffs having been called up for England's World Cup camp.

Bairstow was in scintillating form for SRH in the IPL. PHOTO: AFP


"You’re able to learn different things from different coaches and different players,” Bairstow, who averaged 55.62 for SRH, said about his IPL experience on Tuesday. 

“It’s just little things like game plans. He (Warner) hits in completely different areas to potentially myself. I guess it’s method more than anything else. But learning from them, as well as the guys here, that can only be a good thing playing under pressure with expectation."

Even in victory on Tuesday, Bairstow was upset at not converting his hundred against Pakistan into a bigger score and seeing through the chase. "I was cross because you want to see that through. You want to be going on and getting 160 or 170, and potentially 200 and seeing your team through.

“That’s where we’re at as a group of players at the moment, having competition to go and get the 150s and 160s and beyond," he said.

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