Ben Stokes’ swashbuckling 99 and in-form England opener Jonny Bairstow’s 112-ball 124 saw England register a six-wicket win over India in the second ODI here at the Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium on Friday.
Chasing a mammoth target of 337, the visitors crusied home with 39 balls to spare as they leveled the three-match series 1-1. If the Indian batsmen stole the show in the afternoon, it was the turn of the English batters under lights to showcase some quality strokeplay. The decider will be played on Sunday. The foundation of every successful chase is a strong foundation and England had the best possible start as openers Jason Roy and Bairstow scripted a hundred-plus partnership for the first wicket.
The duo started the innings cautiously but took charge after the initial spell from the Indian bowlers. The visitors looked to be in cruise mode before a piece of brilliance on the field from Rohit Sharma in the 17th oversaw Roy get run out after hitting a top-quality 55.
Stokes joined Bairstow in the middle and made his intentions clear from the word go as he went hammer and tongs from the word go. The duo added 175 for the second wicket and that set the momentum for the visitors.
Stokes missed out on a much-deserved ton as he got out on 99 off 52 balls — studded with 10 sixes. Wicket-keeper Rishabh Pant caught Stokes off Bhuvneshwar Kumar in the 36th over but it was too late for India as England was only 52 runs away from the target with eight wickets remaining.
In the very next over, Prasidh Krishna picked two wickets as he first got rid of centurion Bairstow and then picked stand-in skipper Jos Buttler for a three-ball duck. But it didn’t make much difference to the chase. Dawid Malan and debutant Liam Livingstone stitched an unbeaten 50-run partnership to take the side home. Livingstone scored 27* while Malan returned unbeaten on 16.
Earlier, riding on the platform set by centurion KL Rahul and Rishabh Pant, India scored 63 runs in the last five overs to finish on 336/6 in the allotted 50 overs.
While Rahul hit a classy 108 off 114 balls, it was all about brutal power for Pant as he hit a 40-ball 77 with seven hits out of the park. India was placed comfortably at 210/3 after the completion of 40 overs. But the duo ensured that the hosts hit overdrive mode and picked 126 runs in the last 10 as the England bowlers had no clue on the length to bowl.If Rahul and Pant set up the finish, Hardik Pandya hit a 16-ball 35 to keep up the tempo after their dismissal.
India had a poor start as in-form Shikhar Dhawan got out cheaply in the fourth over. Pacer Reece Topley scalped Dhawan (9) and provided an early breakthrough to his side. Skipper Virat Kohli joined Rohit Sharma in the middle. The duo added 28 off 29 balls before Sam Curran sent Rohit (25) back in the ninth over as the batsman hit one on his legs straight to short backward square.
Rahul, promoted up in the batting order, came in to bat at number four. Rahul and Kohli set the foundation of India’s inning as they scored all around the park. They mixed caution with aggression as they picked the singles and waited for the bad balls.
Between the well-planned partnership, Kohli was dropped by Jos Buttler in the 22nd over off Rashid. At that time, Kohli was batting on 35. The duo kept piling the runs and both Kohli and Rahul completed their half-centuries. But just when it looked like Kohli would break his hundred droughts, Rashid brought England back as he dismissed Kohli (66) in the 32nd over.
Rashid has now become the second-most successful bowler against the India skipper as he has had Kohli’s number nine times. Kohli’s dismissal saw Pant join Rahul in the middle. The duo accelerated and started taking on the English bowlers. Pant started hitting from the word go and scored all around the stadium with Rahul also joining the party. Rahul and Pant stitched a 113-run partnership off 80 balls for the fourth wicket.
Brief Scores: India 336/6 (KL Rahul 108, Rishabh Pant 77; Reece Topley 2-50); England 337/4 (Jonny Bairstow 124, Ben Stokes 99; Prasidh Krishna 2-58)