Dubai: It was billed as the match of the tournament with top two one-day teams contesting for their survival in the World Cup at Edgbaston, and the bigger picture had many sub-plots intertwined in the outcome of the contest. The turning point of the match came at the start of the match when the tried and tested opening partnership of Jason Roy and Jonny Bairstow walked out of the pavilion.
The openers had a special chemistry and have been building many match-winning partnerships, that was missing when Roy had to sit out with injury. But since that time they walked out, they never put a foot wrong. If one aspect that could have given a bit of a twist was, if India had opted to review Aleem Dar’s decision to adjudge Roy not out when he had actually feathered the ball with his gloves.
It’s a rare judgement error from Mahendra Singh Dhoni, who generally is spot on in assessing the review. Aleem Dar’s came in for severe criticism for his decision on Twitter is another matter as Pakistan’s chances depended heavily on England’s result against India.
Unfazed by the happenings, the world No. 1 team brought their A game to the table when they needed it the most for their survival. It was a total exhibition of their batting might as they scored 337 for seven in 50 overs on a wicket that assisted the bowlers, and against the famed Indian bowling attack that was tormenting all their rivals so far.
Elements of winning
England captain Eoin Morgan got many things right in this match. Firstly, he won the toss and elected to bat first, trusting their batsmen to put up a good score, which they did with ease. They also got the team combination right, while Indian skipper Virat Kohli picked two spinners, England went in with a four-man pace attack and one spinner in Adil Rashid, that made a big difference.
Even though the Indian bowlers, led by Mohammad Shami, who grabbed his first World Cup five-wicket haul, and Jasprit Bumrah pulled back England, who were threatening to take their scores well past the 350 mark, Ben Stokes ensured that they still had plenty to defend.
In the 38 matches played so far, only 13 teams have successfully chased the targets and only one above the 300-run mark. So it was always going to be difficult for the Indians, who had to take on the hosts’ attack that knows the pitch and the conditions like the back of their hand to bowl at the right areas, not giving enough room for the Indian batsmen.
Rohit Sharma’s another century and valuable contributions from Kohli, Rishabh Pant, playing his first World Cup match, Hardik Pandya, Dhoni were not just enough to go past England. The Indian and the Pakistan fans, who were cheering for their arch-rivals as a defeat for England will boost their chances, alike will feel let down as India’s unbeaten run came to an end.
They now need to win at least one of the last two games to book a place in the semi-finals, while the destiny is in Pakistan’s own hands as they have to beat Bangladesh in their last game to keep their chances alive.
History repeats again as it is the first time since the 1992 World Cup that England have beaten India in a World Cup clash. Another reference to 1992 World Cup!
England, on the back of this win, have returned to the top four in the standings. They will take on New Zealand with renewed vigour to grab their rightful place in the semis. Yes, the hosts are firmly back as one of the favourites for the title.