England vs India: The Story Of The ODI Series
It was a clash between number one and number two in the world and though it’s a cliché it was aptly titled as a clash of the titans. England had been on their fairy-tale ride ever since the 2015 World Cup. But there was only one side that they had not been able to trump even in their dream run, India.
India have been a consistent limited overs side for a long time now. Ever since the early 2000s they have had their own method which has been successful and mightily impressive especially in big ICC tournaments. So, keeping in mind the World Cup 2019 which is now under one year away from us, this series was going to answer a lot of questions and raise a few as well to the respective teams.
India had begun their long European summer without any mishaps and in an almost laid back manner. After brushing aside Ireland they had been able to beat England in the T20 series as well. But England are a very different ODI side to their T20 side. Their ODI side has been more settled and more confident. So, when India beat them comprehensively in the first ODI it came as a shock. Especially the way in which they beat England. Old questions against spin were beginning to get louder. This was an Indian side minus Jasprit Bumrah, an unfit Bhuvneshwar Kumar and yet Kuldeep Yadav was proving to be enough to keep the mighty English batting line up quiet.
Embed from Getty Images
But Eoin Morgan, the England skipper was quietly confident. They were getting beaten by one man and hence if they could conquer him they could conquer the rest. Against the popular opinion and perhaps because they didn’t quite fancy Kuldeep yet, they chose to bat first at Lords. They got another great start against the fast bowlers but the real battle against the spin was going to begin. And it didn’t begin well. Kuldeep struck in his very first over and fear of another collapse was imminent. But amidst this drama, Joe Root who has had quite a forgettable summer until then came on to the crease very determined to change his fate as well his team’s. The result was a busy hundred and with the help of a quick fire fifty from David Willey, England reached a good score of 322. It was a good score but not an invincible one against a side whose bread and butter is chasing.
But something looked off. Despite a good start India never looked in control. After losing three quick wickets Virat Kohli and Suresh Raina tried to resurrect the innings but boundaries were not coming. Moeen Ali as he so often does against India in England didn’t allow the Indian batsmen to go after him and dismissed Kohli. Then came the most demoralising part of the chase. One of the best finishers in the game’s history, MS Dhoni, just didn’t seem in the mood to go for anything. So much so that he was booed by the crowd. This seemed like a series changing moment. The momentum was with England completely now. They defeated India by 86 runs.
Embed from Getty Images
Although, the series was 1-1 it seemed like England were leading. India are a side who like to be in their bubble. But it seemed like Dhoni being booed, Naseer Hussain publicly questioning Virat Kohli and injuries to their prime fast bowlers had made India jittery. They needed a big performance from their senior men in the final. This time England chose to field first. Once again, India lost Rohit Sharma quickly and Dhawan again gave away his wicket while looking ominous. The onus was once again on Virat Kohli and new number four Dinesh Karthik. Karthik as he has done so often looked good but lost his wicket without any substantial contribution. Dhoni, under enormous pressure, joined Virat at the crease.
Dhoni began in his usual manner taking his time while Kohli was beginning to look sublime. But pitch was turning and spin twins Adil Rashid and Moeen Ali were bowling beautifully. Then Rashid bowled Kohli with a beauty and India were again on the back foot. Dhoni once again played almost a replica of his Lord’s innings and just never got away. India got to a paltry total of 256. The game was lost then and there. England cruised to the total and Joe Root hit another hundred.
So, a series which began as the clash of titans fizzled out at the end. India are the team now left with many questions. Their number four problem remains a problem, even Dhoni’s position is not secure anymore, selection remains a concern, back up pacers’ quality isn’t up to standard. With handful ODIs left in their kitty India are now running out of time to fix these issues. England on the other hand will be high on confidence now. They are on a right track and will begin the World Cup as the overwhelming favourites.
Embed from Getty Images