Hosts England had their backs to the wall after back-to-back defeats against Sri Lanka and Australia in the ICC World Cup. Their last two games against India and New Zealand had become must-win ties for them if they hoped to clinch the semifinals berth.
They have managed to tick off one of those boxes with a 31-run win over India at Edgbaston on Sunday (June 30). One of the architects of this win was Chris Woakes, who bowled a tight opening spell, which included three maidens, as India were restricted to just 27 runs in their first 10 overs chasing 338 to win.
“We have put pressure on ourselves by losing the last two games. Particularly the Sri Lankan game because we knew we should have gone across the line. We came up against a strong Australian side, who were better on that day,” Woakes told the media in the ICC mixed zone in Edgbaston after the game.
“The Sri Lankan game hurt us more than anything. We do have the belief that we can go all the way in this tournament, today was a big test for us against a world-class team like India, who haven’t been beaten yet. There was lot of noise around us but our focus was to play a good 100-over game which we have managed to do,” he added.
Woakes just gave away eight runs in his first five overs and then picked up a superb running catch on the boundary to dismiss Rishabh Pant, when he was looking dangerous on 32.
“I think that catch on the boundary was pretty special. It’s good to get three maidens at the start of the innings but wickets when you matches. Pant is a dangerous player in the last few overs and he was batting well, pretty pleased that I clung on to that,” Woakes said about the catch off Liam Plunkett’s bowling.
Woakes, who plays for Warwickshire in county cricket, was also pleased to perform on his home ground in Birmingham.
“It’s an amazing feeling to perform in a World Cup game at my home ground. It had a bit of funny feeling, only my second ODI here. With a large Indian crowd cheering them on, it was good put this kind of performance up for my team,” the all-rounder said.
It was a complete bowling performance from England, who kept the likes of Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli under check in the first half of the innings, which made things very hard for the Indians to chase down a massive England total.
“It was a very pleasing bowling performance. Kohli and Sharma are world-class players. You can’t give them an inch. Myself and Jofra we didn’t give them any freebies, held a good length and could have had a couple of more wickets easily. The most pleasing aspect of my performance was that it set the tone at the top,” the 30-year-old said.
Asked how the team was dealing with all the criticism in the lead up to the game against India, Woakes said, “We spoke as a group to continue on the road that we have been on. We reiterated that we have got to this place by playing our brand of cricket. We had to play as a team, we came here with a job to do and managed to do that.”
England now have another crucial tie coming up against New Zealand at the Chester-le-Street on Wednesday (July 3) and need to win that game as well to assure a safe passage into the last four stage.
“It’s a big game again on Wednesday against New Zealand, we have to prepare well against a very good New Zealand side, who have had a good tournament so far and can turn anyone over on their day. We are not going to take them lightly. We’ll try to put in a strong performance against them. It’s like a quarterfinal apart from the fact it’s not an official one,” he said.