Birmingham: It was England’s day at the Edgbaston against India. They won the toss on a batting paradise and their openers Jonny Bairstow and Jason Roy blossomed to their full glory to register a record-breaking partnership of 160 in 22.1 overs, erasing the previous best in any One Day International against India.
Alastair Cook and Ian Bell had the previous best first-wicket stand of 158 at Rajkot in 2013.
The cheers of the Indian fans, that filled almost every seat, failed to take India to victory. England, reeling under criticisms over their unimpressive show with three defeats, played positively with renewed determination and registered an impressive 31-run win. The few England fans in the crowd shouted, “the home team is back in town.”
A section of the Indian fans in the end booed their own players as the Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Kedar Jadhav had seven dot balls, 20 singles, only three fours and one six during their partnership.
England, with ten points, are in the fourth place, while Pakistan are in fifth with nine points. Pakistan need to beat Bangladesh and hope England lose to New Zealand to make it to the last four.
Neither Mohammad Shami’s splendid five-wicket haul nor Rahul Sharma’s third century in the World Cup could stop England in their victory march. Though England won, the Indian fans witnessed a sparkling 138-run partnership in 25.5 overs between Sharma and Virat Kohli (66).
Sharma’s third century made him the second Indian batsman after Sourav Ganguly to hit three tons in the World Cup, while Kohli’s fifth consecutive half-century equalled the record of five consecutive World Cup half centuries by Australia’s Steve Smith in the 2015 edition. Despite all these, India could not maintain their unbeaten streak.
Though Hardik Pandya lit up hopes through a knock of 45 and Dhoni remained unbeaten on 42 off 31 balls, which could evoke criticism again over his slow batting, England’s target of 338 was tough to reach.
The hosts’ batting was so aggressive and smooth that at one stage it looked like they could go past the 400-run mark. But Shami changed the complexion of the game. After ending Bairstow’s knock, he got England skipper Eoin Morgan, forcing him to hook to fine leg. Morgan lasted just nine balls to score one run.
Joe Root, who should have taken charge and accelerated the run rate, attempted a scoop off Shami and got caught at fine leg, six short of his half-century. England’s 92 runs off the last 10 overs ultimately proved vital.
India’s strike bowler Chahal returned with the most expensive spell ever in his ODI career, giving away 88 runs for no wicket.
In India’s chase, at the halfway mark, they were 120 for 1, needing another 218 from the next 25 overs. In the 26th over bowled by Stokes, Sharma hit three consecutive boundaries and by the 27th over, brought down the target to 200. But in the 29th over, Kohli fell to Liam Plunkett, playing the delivery into the hands of substitute James Vince at backward point.
At the score on 198 for two in 36.1 overs, Woakes had Sharma caught behind for 102. Pandya, who was promoted ahead of Dhoni and Jadhav, hit three consecutive boundaries off Woakes in the 39th over. The fall of Pant (32) to the first ball of the 40th over, to a stunning catch by Woakes at square leg, brought in Dhoni. With 104 needed off the last 10 overs, the going got tougher with every over.