England snatched a much-needed win against undefeated India to keep their World Cup hopes alive. Jason Roy’s return helped his side post a challenging total on a surface that was conducive for batting while Liam Plunkett stood out with the ball to bag three key wickets and broke the Indian spine.
Jason Roy sets the tempo for the English line-up
England were down on their knees and were in desperate need to get a win to stay alive in the tournament. It was a do-or-die situation for the tournament favourites and had to rope in an 80 percent fit Jason Roy against the undefeated Indian side and the result is there for everyone to be seen.
Roy was undoubtedly the missing piece in England’s puzzle in the last two games and his absence hampered England’s run big time. James Vince not only failed to get good starts but exposed the middle-order quite early on both the occasions while chasing. England opted to bat first and Roy got the ball rolling from the outset by smashing two boundaries in the very first over. With him at the other end, Jonny Bairstow looked less tentative as compared to his previous two outings and helped England got off to a dream start. Roy’s ability to make the batting look easy makes him an asset at the top, he sets the tempo and influences the rest of the line-up along with getting a solid start.
Though he was fortunate to not have been given out when a Hardik Pandya delivery brushed his gloves, he did reasonably well to capitalise on the reprieve. England looked a different outfit altogether when the chips were down and a lot of its credit goes to Roy, whose opening stand got the job half done for England. The equation is pretty simple for England, win three more games and lift the World Cup and if Roy remains fit and fires in this manner, there is no reason why England can’t emerge as champions.
Mohammed Shami’s spell deserves praise and not criticism
Many have criticised him for his poor death bowling but how can someone simply overlook his figures of five for 69 in 10 overs. Shami does bowl really well in death but that happens five out of ten times and today was just an odd day. Despite leaking too many runs in the last few overs, he still ended up conceding only 69 in his quota.
Shami bowled well with the new ball and kept things tight, though he remained wicketless. A couple of inside edges went for boundary and it could have easily been a wicket or two. Just when things were slipping out off India’s control totally, Shami chipped in with two crucial wickets. He got the better of Joony Bairstow and Eoin Morgan in quick succession to pull things back for India. England were all set for a total of 380 plus but the two quick strikes helped India maintain pressure.
Shami didn’t stop there, he went on to pick three more wickets including the one of a fiery Jos Buttler, who was wreaking havoc. After being hit for boundaries, Shami varied his length sensibly to get the better of the English wicketkeeper, which easily made a difference of 15 odd runs to England’s eventual total.
Though Bhuvneshwar had bowled well in this competition but Shami has provided the wicket-taking option. It all depends on what India put first – economy or wicket taking ability? With both the spinners conceding runs and India’s tail looking a little vulnerable, the chances of getting Bhuvneshwar back are high but that shouldn’t happen at the expense of Shami, who has 13 wickets in just three games.
Liam Plunkett’s success creates good headache for England
Overlooked in last few games, England got their analysis dead right for this encounter and opted for pace ahead of off-spin option of Moeen Ali. Plunkett had to deliver in the must win game and he not only did that but also won England the game with timely strikes and smart bowling.
He is not someone who will intimidate a batsman with serious pace but whatever strengths he have, uses it quite effectively. Kohli and Rohit were in the middle of a match-winning stand when Plunkett was brought into the attack again. The Indian skipper decided to take him on and perished at point and so did Rishabh Pant. The game was not over as long as Hardik Pandya was out in the middle and Plunkett dented India’s hopes with the prized scalp under that situation. He changed his pace sensibly and kept the batsmen under check.
Plunkett was the silent assassin here and filled in the shoes of a third pacer quite effectively. His match-winning spell has certainly made his presence unavoidable for the next game and it will be interesting to see if England will tinker their winning combination. The only problem here is the batting, with Plunkett in, Chris Woakes bats at seven, which is a little early for him. England bank heavily on their batting to bail them out and with Moeen out, it is certainly weakened a little. Though this is a good headache to have, England need to chalk down a way and stick to their combination.
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