England players leave the field
England players leave the field as they celebrate their win over India in the World Cup match at Edgbaston in Birmingham. Image Credit: AP

Birmingham: The backing of a former India batsman is said to be the major factor that contributed to England’s victory over India at Birmingham. Jonny Bairstow, who hit a match-winning century against India on Sunday, thanked classy batsman VVS Laxman for his guidance on how to play the spinners.

Bairstow cracked 111 runs scoring heavily against the Indian spinners. Bairstow revealed that he’d improved his ability to play the spinner while playing for Sunrisers Hyderabad in the Indian Premier League. Laxman is the mentor of the Hyderabad team. “VVS helped me with his knowledge against spin,” he said before looking ahead to the tasks at hand for England to reach the semi-finals. “We have three must-win games in the next two weeks, but we need to focus on the next game that we play against New Zealand.”

Bairstow believes the victory over India can take them a long way. “It was important to set a platform and assess the conditions early after winning the toss,” he said. “It’s been frustrating for the guys as we’ve played well but the results have not gone in our favour. We can improve things going forward against New Zealand.”

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England skipper Eoin Morgan hailed Bairstow’s knock and appreciated his fighting spirit. “He does tend to get fired up a lot, and that suits him regardless of what’s happened during the week, any week, injuries or not. He likes a bit of fire in his belly, and I don’t mind that when he comes out and plays like that and feels like the way he did. I think it’s outstanding. It’s definitely a match-winning knock. So we’re delighted for him.”

Morgan is happy that it was England’s day at Edgbaston. “I thought we’ve had an outstanding day. Winning the toss and batting was an easy decision. But in the end it all worked out well for us with Jason Roy coming back in and Jonny going on and getting a hundred. The continuation of partnerships throughout is what took us to a good total.”

The England skipper also expressed his satisfaction at the way his batsmen took on the Indian spinners strongly. “They (Indian spinners) are a huge threat, the two main spinners for India. But them being taken on was great to see. It’s the way we want to play our cricket.”

Talking about his team’s approach to the match, what has particularly pleased Morgan is the manner in which they played, particularly with the bat. “That was outstanding. It certainly resonates with everybody in the change room to the identity which we wanted to play with in this tournament. It’s come at a really good time and against an extremely strong team. So we are delighted.”

Dissecting the game further, the England skipper gave big credit to his openers for making the wicket look easy. “Jonny and Jason can make a wicket seem flat at different stages, and they did through that period. And that got us off to an unbelievable start,” he said.

Was he surprised that India was not going for runs in the last few overs? Without responding to the question directly, he preferred to talk about his players. “I thought we bowled really well, and I don’t think it was an easy wicket to hit sixes on. Am not sure how many sixes were hit today, but it felt like it was down on probably a normal Edgbaston game where the wicket is normally quite good. So that’s a good indicator, I think.”