India Beat England In A Decider Thriller: Win ICC Cricket World Cup Super League Series!

 

Sam Curran

Of course, history does repeat itself from time to time; but the history of successfully chasing 337 runs in a one-day international (ODI) match does not repeat itself too often.  Thanks to some incredible display of power batting by Jonny Bairstow and Ben Stokes England chased 337 and defeated India by 6 wickets the other day in the second ODI of the ICC World Cup Super League series thus levelling the 3-match series. Although India posted a target, a little less than the other day, of 329 today England nearly repeated history again with bowling allrounder Sam Curran (95 not out) taking over charge. It rankled in the minds of Indian fans that the famed batting strength of the hosts wasted 8 balls of the Indian innings as there were no batsmen left, and that they could have set a target well over 350 runs. In the bargain were treated to a real nail-biter of a match that India, studded with dropped catches and misfields, finally managed to win by 7 runs thus winning the Series 2-1 and lifting the Paytm Trophy. Not to speak of the fact that Kohli lost the toss yet again, for the sixth time in a row.

 

Indian batting faltered after a solid foundation was laid by the openers Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan between whom 103 runs were scored only in the 15th over. England, persisting with the two spinners, suddenly unleashed them on the Indians and it was not exactly clear whether they got some lethal turn on this batting heaven or the Indians showed lack of application. Adil Rashid tore through the gate bowling Rohit (37) and then having a well-set Dhawan (67) in matter of two overs; joining him Moeen Ali tore through the gate this time of Virat Kohli (7) clean bowling him; and perhaps inspired by the duo Liam Livingstone was brought in by the stand-in English captain Jos Buttler and KL Rahul (7) was caught off Livingstone, suddenly India sliding to 157/4 in the 25th over with the hope of crossing the 300 mark resting solely on Rishabh Pant and Hardik Pandya.

 

Pant again thrilled cricket lovers by a superlative innings of 78 runs in 62 balls with 5 fours and 4 sixes, and Pandya (66 runs in 44 balls, 5 fours and 4 sixes) carried on after Pant departed with cameos from Krunal Pandya (25) and Shardul Thakur (30). It is thanks to the balanced Team India that a total of 329 runs could still be reached which was no mean target for any opposition under any circumstances.

 

England managed to keep up the momentum not allowing the asking rate to climb alright, but the fall of wickets at regular intervals diminished their hopes phase by phase. With the fall of Buttler at the team score of 95/4 the match came back overwhelmingly in India’s favour, and the joy of Kohli and team was to be seen when the DRS proved Buttler out LBW. But Sam Curran had other ideas. First, he built a 57-run partnership with Rashid, then 60-run partnership with Mark Wood and fought till the last over when the last man Topley was only there to give him company. Curran stopped taking singles keeping himself on the firing line, looking for fours and sixes, and he nearly pulled it off. Hardik dropped him early on and was later dropped by Natarajan. England, although vanquished, must be given due credit for their all-out efforts to bowl India out and their magnificent fielding all around the park that saved at least 20 runs, and of course, the late match-defining charge led by Curran.

 

The Indian pacers bowled with determination, particularly Bhuvneshwar Kumar who clean-bowled Jason Roy in the very first over after being hit fiercely and then Bairstow, and Shardul Thakur who took the crucial wickets of Malan, Buttler and Livingstone. However, 18 runs given away by Thakur in his last over at a crucial juncture of the match and dropping a crucial catch in the dying moments of the match did not do him much good. Natarajan, replacing spinner Yadav, captured the prize wicket of Stokes after the latter was dropped by Hardik off the bowling of Kumar, and bowled the last over of the match keeping his nerve, particularly after dropping Curran moments back, and England could not get the 14 runs required for a match and a series win. Most deservingly Sam Curran was adjudged man-of-the-match. Jonny Bairstow was given the man-of-the-series award, again a most deserving candidate.  

       

In this England Tour of India, the hosts have beaten the visitors in all three formats: winning the Test Series 3-1 thus qualifying for the World Test Championship Final; winning the T20I Series 3-2 and the ODI Series 2-1. For the next two months IPL-2021 is going to capture the imagination of the Indian cricket fans and revelers.

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