MATCH ENDS: That's it folks, England have comprehensively beaten India to level the series in sublime fashion. Indian batting failed to live up to the billing as England beat India by 86 runs. Root was the star of the day as he slammed an unbeaten ton while Plunkett scalped four wickets for the home side.
After a five-for in the opening T20I in Old Trafford, Kuldeep Yadav returned wicket-less in the next T20I in Cardiff. Can England do a repeat at Lord’s in the second ODI after the left-arm wrist spinner finished with figures of 6/25 in the opening ODI at Trent Bridge? This will be the question looming over the game when the teams clash again in the second game of the series on Saturday.
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Lord’s, just like Cardiff, is not expected to provide much turn. But then, a bowler of Yadav’s class isn’t reliant purely on conditions for success. England know his variations will be a handful and how they tackle him will determine the outcome of this contest. England skipper Eoin Morgan has aptly pointed out after the loss in the first game that the English batsmen must get their act right against the spinner if they wish to claw back into the three-match series.
The visitors will arrive at the venue called the home of cricket riding a wave of confidence after their performances on the tour so far. If Yadav and the bowlers did an excellent job in dismissing England for just 268 in the first game in batting friendly conditions, the Indian batsmen chased down the target in a mere 40.1 overs with 8 wickets still in the bag. Skipper Virat Kohli, who was dismissed with the team needing 43 runs to win, played a signature innings, ensuring there were no hiccups in the chase.
The batting honours on the day were reserved for Rohit Sharma, and his 18th ton once again highlighted his credentials as one of the world’s top limited overs batsmen. England’s bowlers looked completely hapless as Sharma’s lazy elegance and Kohli’s warhorse-like innings put kept them on the backfoot. This after Shikhar Dhawan got off to a flying start — 40 off just 27 balls with eight hits to the boundary. All in all, the Indian top order has a menacing look to it and on the flat decks being served up for these matches, England’s attack is like a lamb to slaughter.
Back on the field in just a day’s time, England will need to do a complete relook at their approach both as a batting and bowling unit. Jos Buttler cannot be the lone warrior when it comes to playing the spinners in the Indian attack. The painful pace at which Ben Stokes finally hit a fifty on Thursday didn’t help the team cause too and his inability to get a hang of the deliveries dished out to him by the two Indian spinners in Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal isn’t a good sign.
With Alex Hales rules out of the series with a side strain, England need to get their act right in the middle-overs and the charge has to be taken by none other than skipper Eoin Morgan. Known to use the cross-batted hits to good effect, Morgan must devise a way to tackle the Indian spinners and not let them settle down at the crease. Unless the middle-order stands up and makes it count, the effort of the openers — Jason Roy and Jonny Bairstow — will count for little. Another problem area for England is the form of their Test skipper Joe Root. The batsman has looked like a fish out of water against Yadav in particular. Every time Root has taken guard against Yadav, he has looked like a pale shadow of the batsman counted among the best in world cricket. If the negative mindset continues, the hosts will only slip further into doubt. Had Hales been fit, he would have made a case for a return to the mix, perhaps even at Root’s expense, but it is unlikely that his replacement Dawid Malan will get a go straight away.
For India, the team has peaked at the right time. A win on Saturday will further crush the confidence of the hosts as they inch closer to the five-match Test series, and not to forget they earn valuable confidence for the World Cup that England hosts next year. The T20I and ODI series were expected to be a practice ground for the showpiece event and if the signs so far are anything to go by, Team India is ready.
Teams: India: Virat Kohli (c), Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul, MS Dhoni (wk), Dinesh Karthik, Suresh Raina, Hardik Pandya, Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Shreyas Iyer, Siddarth Kaul, Axar Patel, Umesh Yadav, Shardul Thakur, Bhuvneshwar Kumar.
England: Eoin Morgan (c), Jason Roy, Jonny Bairstow, Jos Buttler (wk), Moeen Ali, Joe Root, Jake Ball, Tom Curran, Dawid Malan, Liam Plunkett, Ben Stokes, Adil Rashid, David Willey, Mark Wood.