After India set England a target of 337 runs on the back of KL Rahul’s century and Rishabh Pant’s 77-run rampage, the second ODI should have been a close contest. Instead, it was a walk in the park for England as the visitors won the match with 6.3 overs and six wickets to spare. Jonny Bairstow hit a brisk 112-ball 124 as the visitors enjoyed another good opening partnership, but it was Ben Stokes’ brutal assault on the Indian bowling attack that ensured that England didn’t slip up from a winning position for the second time in the series and drew the contest level at 1-1.
England’s openers once again got them off to a great start as Jason Roy and Bairstow carried on their form from the previous game.
Roy finally got to a half-century having gotten out in his forties twice in the T20 International series and in the first ODI.
India’s bowlers did not seem to have any answers for the England openers and it took a mix-up and a brilliant piece of fielding from Rohit Sharma for the hosts to get a breakthrough as Roy was run out for 55 off 52 deliveries, bringing to close a 110-run stand.
But if India thought the wicket would bring a change of fortune, they had another thing coming.
Stokes and Bairstow put on a 175-run stand off just 117 deliveries to completely take the game away from India. Bairstow, who was out for 93 in the first game, did not miss out this time, as he scored his 11th ODI century.
Stokes, coming in at no.3, took on the Indian bowlers – especially the spinners – smashing 99 off 52 deliveries.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar snagged him with a wicket just a run short of a well-deserved century, but by then the damage was done. England, at that point, needed just 50 off 83 deliveries.
If Pant’s 40-ball 77 was spectacular, Stokes’ knock was the perfect riposte. The all-rounder smashed 10 sixes and four boundaries to put England within touching distance of the win before he got out.
Prasidh Krishna dismissed Bairstow and Jos Buttler in the very next over after Stokes was sent back to give the hosts some hopes of an unlikely comeback, but by then the asking rate was just over 3 runs an over and debutant Liam Livingstone and Dawid Malan ensured there were no further hiccups for the visitors.
England had won the toss and opted to field. India lost Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma early, but Virat Kohli and KL Rahul steadied the ship for the hosts.
As they both hit half-centuries, Adil Rashid snagged Kohli’s wicket with India looking to accelerate. But Rishabh Pant came on and took the attack to the visitors, hitting seven sixes and three boundaries.
KL Rahul also upped the ante as he brought up his fifth ODI century.
Hardik Pandya also played a good cameo at the end after Rahul was dismissed, smashing 35 off just 16 deliveries.
It was probably in the way the two teams faced the spinners that was the differentiating factor between them.
While Moeen Ali and Adil Rashid bowled with an economy rate of 4.70 and 6.50 respectively, England took the Indian spinners to the cleaners.
Kuldeep finished his 10 overs with an economy of 8.40, Krunal Pandya went for 72 runs in six overs.
The two teams will now face off in the series decider at the same venue on Sunday.
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