Bairstow and Stokes fireworks set up ODI series decider and earn Kohli praise

Figcaption Bairstow And Stokes Fireworks Set Up ODI Series Decider And Earn Kohli Praise
Posted at: Author: Rain TV UK

England’s two-month tour of India will end with a series decider in Pune on Sunday after Jonny Bairstow’s imperious 124 and a jaw-dropping 99 from Ben Stokes set up a dominant six-wicket victory in the second one-day international.

Eoin Morgan may have been missing with a hand injury but the captain’s orders to maintain their aggressive mentality after Tuesday’s galling 66-run defeat were acted upon in style as a target of 337 – set up by KL Rahul’s glossy 108 – was vaporised with 39 balls to spare.

England storm to six-wicket win over India: second ODI – live! Read more

It featured a truly astonishing display of ball-striking from Bairstow and Stokes – “some of the best you’ll ever see,” Virat Kohli conceded afterwards. The pair shared a stand of 175 in 18.5 overs and cleared the rope 17 times between them to leave the scoreboard at the MCA Stadium spinning like the wheels on a fruit machine.

While both departed before the end, Stokes gloving behind one short of his century off only the 52nd ball faced and Bairstow picking out short extra cover, their evisceration of Kohli’s attack left 50 to whittle off and meant that even the loss of the stand-in captain, Jos Buttler – yorked by Prasidh Krishna for a duck – mattered little.

It was the debutant Liam Livingstone (27 not out) and Dawid Malan (16 not out) who got the tourists over the line after replacing the injured Morgan and Sam Billings. But there was little doubt about the chief architects of England’s highest successful run chase against India and the steadfast approach they embodied.

Stokes, who cracked a 40-ball half-century before scorching to 99 off his next 11 deliveries, said: “The most pleasing thing was we didn’t go away from our values. It would have been easy to rein ourselves in after the other night. We’ve set big totals, chased big totals and we don’t have any fear.”

For India there was some understandable frustration, Stokes having survived a shy at the stumps on 31 from Kuldeep Yadav despite no obvious sign of any bat behind the line. The third umpire, Anil Chaudhary, was unsure, however, and Kuldeep’s day then got worse when Stokes launched him for three successive sixes.

Ben Stokes hits out during his extraordinary innings of 99 that at one point included three sixes in consecutive balls. Photograph: Surjeet Yadav/Getty Images

Until Stokes emerged bristling with intent at No 3, following the run-out of Jason Roy for a typically muscular 55, the game had followed a similar pattern to the series opener. After being inserted at the toss, India had again opted to backload their innings as Rishabh Pant, with 77 from 40 balls, and Hardik Pandya (35 from 16), followed up Rahul’s fifth ODI century by piling on 126 runs in the final 10 overs.

Reece Topley made a pleasing return to the England side in place of the rested Mark Wood, nicking off Shikhar Dhawan with the new ball and returning at the death to stem some otherwise heavy bleeding by removing Hardik Pandya, while Moeen Ali was the thriftiest on both sides with only 47 runs conceded from 10 overs in India’s 336 for six.

Otherwise this was tough going for the bowlers. Adil Rashid was taken for 65 runs but at least removed Kolhi for 66 to break a stand of 121 with Rahul – relief for Buttler, who had dropped the Indian captain on 35 – while the Curran brothers also got the treatment, albeit sharing three wickets to offset some of the bruising.

Pant produced another blistering assault on his return to India’s side, crashing seven sixes – a couple of which were one-handed – in a 28-ball half-century, while Hardik Pandya similarly cashed in on some of the Curran fodder being served up.

However, these late fireworks also served to show there were 22 yards of flat earth out in the middle and for the second game running – and the 13th time in 43 innings – the Roy and Bairstow show produced a century stand to get the tourists off to a flyer.

Bairstow, who made 94 on Tuesday, was slightly starved of the strike initially but was level with his partner by the time their mix-up left England 110 for one in the 17th over. Both had brought up half-centuries with sixes off Kuldeep, Bairstow later repeating the trick off the left-arm wrist-spinner when sealing his 11th ODI hundred from 95 balls.

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This was a typical display of bottom hand power from the Yorkshireman as he repeatedly hammered the bowlers down the ground, while Stokes simply went berserk after his 50, disdainfully depositing the spin pairing of Kuldeep and Krunal Pandya into the empty stands six times in nine deliveries.

Both fell before the job was completed but, by giving England the chance of ending an otherwise gruelling trip with a series win – and taking the possibility of a 3-0 defeat off the table – they also ensured the team’s No 1 ranking in ODI cricket will, like the approach that got them there three years ago, remain unaffected.

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