Stokes, Bairstow blow away India to level series

Nikhil Bapat
·3-min read

Pune, Mar 26 (PTI) England played like World Champions and made a mockery of a 337-run target, courtesy a six-hitting spree from Jonny Bairstow and Ben Stokes, to level the three-match ODI series against a stunned India here on Friday. England did not throw it away like the opening game and capitalised on a flying start provided by Bairstow (124 off 112) and Jason Roy (55 off 52) to gun down the target in just 43.3 overs with six wickets in hand.

Stokes (99 off 62) played a breathtaking knock and missed out on a deserving hundred after a blazing 165-run stand with Bairstow.

India amassed 336 for six courtesy KL Rahul (108 off 114) and Rishabh Pant (77 off just 40) after England won the toss and opted to field again. After Roy's dismissal, Stokes hit sixes for fun, 10 in total, to make the seemingly daunting task rather comfortable for the visitors. Bairstow, who struck his 11th ODI hundred, too was not far behind with seven sixes and 11 fours. Barring pacers Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Prasidh Krishna, the Indian bowlers had no answer to the onslaught of Stokes and Bairstow, who produced a display of sensational hitting. The duo was brutal against the Indian spin duo of Kuldeep Yadav (0/84 in 10 overs) and Krunal Pandya (0/72 in 6), who conceded as many as 14 sixes.

Like the previous game, England self-destructed by losing three quick wickets in the middle overs, including the set Stokes and Bairstow, but debutant Liam Livingstone (27 not out off 21) and Dawid Malan (16 not out off 23)held their nerve to get their home safely. It was England's fifth highest chase in ODI cricket.

Earlier, Rahul, who anchored the innings, hit seven fours and two sixes in his 114-ball knock while Pant plundered seven sixes and three boundaries to helpthe hosts go well past the 300-run mark.

Skipper Virat Kohli (66 off 79) and Rahul laid the foundation for the big total with their 121-run third wicket stand after being put into bat at the MCA stadium.

Opener Shikhar Dhawan (4) fell cheaply after he nicked a Reece Topley delivery to Ben Stokes in the slips.

Kohli joined Rohit Sharma (25), who looked in his element, as he hit three boundaries off Topley (2/50).

But in the next over, Curran (1/47) cut-short his stay at the crease. Rohit flicked a full pitched delivery straight to Adil Rashid at short fine leg, as India slipped to 37/2.

Kohli and Rahul kept the scoreboard ticking, with the India captain being the bit more aggressive one, while Rahul initially played second fiddle.

Kohli, who got a 'life' on 35 when Buttler dropped a regulation chance off Adil Rashid, notched up his 62nd fifty with a single.

The duo then completed their 100-run stand off 119 balls, without any fuss. However, Rashid (1/65) removed Kohli, whose thick outside edge was caught by Buttler, with India at 158/3.

Rahul then put his foot on the accelerator, while mostly relying on pulls and drives. Rahul, who hit his fifth ODI century and Pant then launched himself into England attack. Pant pulled Rashid for his first six, his trademark pull-shot and did not look back.

Left-handed Pant smacked successive sixes off Stokes in the 41st over, completing his second ODI fifty, in 28 balls.

After Rahul fell, Pant continued his six-hitting show with Hardik Pandya (35 off 16) joining the fun activity as India amassed 126 runs in the final 10 overs.

This was the second instance when India hit successive 300 plus scores in five ODIs, the other one being in 2017. PTI NRB BS BS