India lost their first match of the 2019 Cricket World Cup when they failed to chase down 338 against England at Edgbaston on Sunday. India’s 31-run defeat has also made the race for the semi-finals interesting.
For starters, Pakistan did not want India to lose to England. Meanwhile, India and New Zealand have also not yet assured themselves of semi-finals berths. England and New Zealand face a must win game against each other while India only need to win one of their next two matches. As things stand now, Pakistan and Bangladesh also have realistic chances of making it to the last 4.
It was a strange start to a massive run chase. India lost KL Rahul to Chris Woakes in only the 3rd over of the innings when he played a bizarre shot. Virat Kohli joined Rohit Sharma and the pair knew the importance of that stand – had either man been dismissed early, the Indian chase would have fallen flat.
Rohit and Kohli, two of the most formidable ODI batsmen in the world, chose to bide their time and they saw off fiery spells from Chris Woakes and Jofra Archer but India managed only 28 for 1 off the first 10 overs.
Such is the class of Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli that India seemed to recover from a slow, slumberous start. Kohli was the more aggressive of the two but Rohit caught up soon enough after crossing fifty.
And just when it looked like the pair of them was ready to launch their most brutal assault on the English attack, Virat Kohli fell to Liam Plunkett for 66. He became the 1st captain and the 2nd player after Steve Smith to hit 5 successive fifties in a World Cup. But surprisingly, Kohli did not convert any of those fifties into hundreds.
Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma’s 138-run stand was the highest for India in the 2019 World Cup.
Kohli’s exit brought Rishabh Pant to the middle. Playing his first World Cup game, Pant appeared nervous and survived two close run-out chances. Rohit Sharma, meanwhile, reached his 25th ODI hundred and 3rd of this World Cup. But the pressure was building and he fell to Chris Woakes when he returned for his second spell.
Rishabh Pant and Hardik Pandya gave India (and Pakistan) hopes of a sensational victory. The two played a dazzling range of shots and added 28 in 3 overs before Pant fell to Plunkett for 32.
With 112 needed off 10.5 overs, MS Dhoni joined Hardik Pandya in the middle.
MS Dhoni was severely criticised for his poor strike rate against Afghanistan. It was a great chance for him to come good on Sunday and show why he is still a dangerous finisher. But as Hardik Pandya tried hard, Dhon was unable to up the ante and the asking rate climbed sharply.
Hardik fell to Plunkett for 45 in the 45th over and that was the end of India’s challenge against a spirited England.
MS Dhoni and Kedar Jadhav showed no intent at all and their slow stand baffled Sourav Ganguly and Nasser Hussain, the on-air commentators.
India only need to win one of their two remaining matches against Bangladesh and Sri Lanka to reach the semi-finals while England have to beat New Zealand to get through.
Earlier, England won the toss and chose to bat on a flat pitch. Jonny Bairstow and Jason Roy were cautious to start with against Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Shami and Bairstow was lucky to get away with a couple of inside edges. But once the Engish openers had their eyes in, they were ruthless.
The pitch did not offer India’s wrist spinners – Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal – any turn. Both men were taken to the cleaners. In fact, Chahal bowled the most expensive spell by an Indian in World Cup history.
Jason Roy could have been dismissed early but India chose not to review a not out decision off Hardik Pandya – he fell for 66 thanks to a stunning catch by Ravindra Jadeja but Jonny Bairstow hit his maiden World Cup hundred.
At the 30-over mark, England were on course for a total far bigger than their eventual 337 for 7. Mohammed Shami returned for a breathtaking spell to pick up Jonny Bairstow and Eoin Morgan in a two-over burst and it looked like India would keep England to a more manageable total.
But Ben Stokes had other ideas. England’s best batsman against Sri Lanka and Australia, Stokes took on the Indian bowlers and punished any lose delivery that came his way. Even as Shami kept chipping away with the wickets of Joe Root and Jos Buttler in his last spell, Stokes plundered the runs to take England to a position of strength.
By the end of the English innings, Stokes had scored stroke-filled 79 and Mohammed Shami had picked his maiden 5-wicket haul in ODIs to set up a an evening of great cricket in Birmingham.