A solid start, troubled by quality spinners and then by Rohit Sharma.
A familiar script unfolded at Trent Bridge as England slipped to an eight-loss in the first ODI of the three-match series on Thursday (July 12). Kuldeep Yadav picked up 6 for 25 – the fourth-best figures by an Indian bowler in ODI cricket – to keep the hosts to a well below par score of 268 all out.
Once the bowlers did their job, it became all too routine for the chaser-supreme India captain and his in-form deputy. Rohit (137 not out) and Kohli (75) collaborated for a 167-run stand, after a brisk start, to ensure it was a smooth sail before India polished off the challenge in 41 overs. The win, however, was set up by Kuldeep, who schooled England in their own backyard on one of the flattest track in the country.
Make no mistake, it was a poor performance from the hosts. With the outfield laid to put a billiards table to shame, the boundaries short enough to give the bowlers nightmares and a flat pitch on offer, both teams arrived at the venue hoping for a run fest. Kuldeep’s spell though raised some tough questions for Eoin Morgan and his batch of 2018 and their ability to play spin. There wasn’t a lot of turn, just a wee bit, but enough for England batsmen to lose the plot completely.
When they made a brisk start with the openers scoring 73 inside the powerplay, Kohli’s decision to stick England in to bat looked an iffy one. After all, at the same venue, England had smashed Australia for 481 – the highest score in ODI cricket – just last month. But walloping Ashton Agar to all parts of the ground is all too easy and trying to tackle the guile, control and variations of Kuldeep a whole different ball game altogether.
Kuldeep drew first blood as he dismissed Roy in the 11th over. The England opener tried to reverse sweep the ball but was beaten in the air and could only manage to lob it to cover-point. Joe Root, keen to prove a point after being dropped from the T20 side, looked clueless and troubled during his short stay before he was trapped in front trying to defend a Kuldeep stock delivery on the back foot. Bairstow suffered the same fate after he failed to read the googly from the left-arm spinner. At 82 for 3, England were wobbling and in a lot of trouble on a good surface.
They were dented further soon after when Eoin Morgan chipped a Chahal delivery to midwicket in the 19th over. Jos Buttler walked in and immediately gave the innings the much-needed impetus even as Stokes continued to struggle from the other end. Stokes and Buttler raised a half-century stand off 59 deliveries with the latter doing most of the damage. Buttler looked at ease and cantered to his half-century off 45 balls before eventually falling to Kuldeep. Stokes became Kuldeep’s fifth victim before David Willey gifted his wicket away to the left-arm spinner.
In the chase, Shikhar Dhawan looked set for a big score. Mark Wood took the brunt as the left-hander raced to 40 off 27 before throwing away his wicket. If that wicket gave Morgan and Co. some hope, all it took was one stroke from Rohit to show which team was bossing the game.
Picture this, the bowler is on the ground having delivered it at more than 145 clicks. All the India opener did was stand tall and cream it over the long-off fence for a six. Those were ominous signs. Add to that Kohli starting his innings with his famed fluent cover drive and it was all too clear too early – England stood no chance, especially with the track offering nothing to their bowlers.
Liam Plunkett, Wood, Adil Rashid and Moeen Ali – all were put in place at various stages of the chase with India motoring along. As the visitors raced towards the target, it also became a bit about personal milestones. Rohit got to his 18th ODI ton in the 31st over – off 82 deliveries – with a nonchalant six off Rashid. Kohli eventually fell – stumped trying to drive Rashid – with India 43 shy of the target but the wicket came at a time when it was far too late.
Brief scores: England268 in 49.5 overs (Jos Buttler 53; Kuldeep Yadav 6-25) lost to India269/2 in 40.1 overs (Rohit Sharma 137*, Virat Kohli 75) by eight wickets.