England’s batting rose to the challenge as they put on a brilliant display to chase down a stiff 337 in the second ODI in Pune to level the three-match series 1-1. Led by Jonny Bairtsow and Ben Stokes, the English team hit 20 huge sixes on the day, living up to their billing of world champions on a track that eased as the innings progressed.
England started off cautiously, scoring only 10 off the first four overs. Then Jason Roy got a move, smashing five fours in the span of two overs. By the end of the Powerplay, England had reached 59. Roy and Bairstow got their second century stand (13th overall in ODI cricket) to lay a solid foundation for a middle-order that was without Eoin Morgan and Sam Billings.
Roy was dismissed soon afterwards to a terrible mix-up. But Bairstow and Stokes did not let the run rate drop. They were particularly harsh on the slower bowlers, Kuldeep Yadav and Krunal Pandya. Bairstow brought a well-deserved hundred off a six off Kuldeep, while Stokes, at the other end, too turned up the heat as he sent Kuldeep for three successive sixes. They took 28 off Krunal’s next over as England scored 63 off only three overs.
Stokes was unlucky to miss out on what would have been a memorable hundred. He fell for 99, trying to pull Bhuvneshwar Kumar. Prasidh Krishna then took out Bairtsow and Jos Buttler as England lost three wickets for six runs, but Dawid Malan and debutant Liam Livingstone ensured they did not suffer yet another collapse.
Earlier, India, after being sent in to bat first yet again, did not have the best start in the Powerplay overs. Shikhar Dhawan, who had made 98 in the last game, edged one to slip while Rohit Sharma hit one to the man at fine leg, leaving Virat Kohli and KL Rahul to rebuild the innings. The duo were cautious and focused on taking singles. The run rate hovered under five for most of the innings. Kohli got his fourth consecutive ODI fifty but could not carry on. He gave a simple catch to Buttler off Adil Rashid.
His wicket brought Rishabh Pant to the crease, and the run rate started improving. India scored 37 in two overs, with Pant being particularly harsh on Tom Curran. He reached his fifty off only 28 balls, while Rahul got his fifth ODI ton off 108 deliveries. Pant’s dismissal brought Hardik Pandya, and India recovered from a sedate start to post 336 on the board.
India 336/6 in 50 overs (KL Rahul 108, Rishabh Pant 77, Virat Kohli 66; Reece Topley 2-50) lost to England 337/4 in 43.3 overs (Jonny Bairstow 124, Ben Stokes 99, Jason Roy 55; Prasidh Krishna 2-58) by 6 wickets with 39 balls to spare. Player of the Match: Jonny Bairstow.
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