2nd ODI: Stokes, Bairstow Star as England Level Series in Style
Ben Stokes and Jonny Bairstow were instrumental as England levelled the three-match ODI series against India at 1-1.
After Rishabh Pant’s blistering knock in the afternoon, he then had the best seat in the house as Ben Stokes turned on the style with a brutal assault like none other. Once Stokes (99 off 52 deliveries) completed his half century, was dealing in sixes, taking a special liking for the bowling of Kuldeep Yadav and Krunal Pandya.
Alongside Stokes, Jonny Bairstow (124 off 112 deliveries) scored a brilliant century and looked a far cry from his out-of-form-self from the Tests. England won the 2nd ODI by 6 wickets, levelling the series in emphatic style against India in Pune.
Stokes and Bairstow’s superb partnership completely outshone the Indian batting stars Rishabh Pant and KL Rahul.
Asked to bat first by Jos Buttler, India started off with a setback of sorts as the in-form Shikhar Dhawan was caught in the slips by Ben Stokes off Reece Topley in the fourth over for 4.
Rohit Sharma, who had an injury scare in the first ODI while batting, was finding the fence relative ease, but could not make a start count. Looking for a boundary off Sam Curran to fine leg, Rohit’s glance was uppish and straight to Adil Rashid at short fine, who held on.
Captain Virat Kohli at the other end was joined by KL Rahul and the duo were quick to steady the ship, running hard between the wickets and keeping the scoreboard moving along.
Kohli and Rahul kept very busy during their partnership with the skipper scoring yet another half century.
Kohli, who scored 66 smashed 3 boundaries and one six during his stay of 79 deliveries, stitching together a 121-run stand with Rahul for the third wicket.
Kohli, who was dropped once by Jos Buttler, was eventually dismissed by Adil Rashid with the England captain on the day holding on the next time round.
Rahul, who by now had completed his half-century as well, decided to up the scoring rate at his end and was joined by the left-handed Rishabh Pant for the final half of the innings.
With Pant going taking the attack to England in his inimitable way Rahul at the other end was starting to show off his repertoire of shots; piercing the gaps with regularity and giving the opposition bowlers quite a bit to think about.
Pant, who was dealing in fours and sixes, raced away to his half century off 28 deliveries, pulling, slog sweeping and lofting the bowling with great power and ease.
Soon after, Rahul (108), who was looking a far cry from the out-of-touch batsman that he was in the T20Is, completed an elegant century, with the final five overs set to roll on.
Rahul and Pant (77 off 40 deliveries) put on 113 runs off 80 deliveries, leaving India in a great position to tee off in the final few overs with their power hitters.
Next to walk in was Hardik Pandya and he hit Sam Curran for a couple of sixes off the first three deliveries he faced, and Pant added one more as well
Hardik went on to add 35 off 16 deliveries while Krunal at the other end also added a few lusty blows, taking India to 336/3.
Jason Roy and Jonny Bairstow were not bothered by the target and played their natural aggressive game from the start.
While Roy played the more aggressive role to start off with Bairstow was not far behind, putting India’s bowlers under quite a bit of pressure.
Roy was particularly severe on Prasidh Krishna, smashing him for 5 boundaries on his way to a brisk half century.
The openers put on 110 before a poor piece of communication saw Roy run-out after some sharp fielding by Rohit Sharma at midwicket.
In walked Ben Stokes and turned the game on its head with some brutal hitting.
Stokes, who took some time to settle in and get his timing going, was in fine form after the initial phase of his innings.
Bairstow meanwhile at the other end continued in his merry ways and decided to go through the gears. Both Stokes and Bairstow were particularly harsh on the spinners.
Bairstow brought up his century with a six of Kuldeep and then Stokes took charge after completing his half century.
The 5 overs after the 30th gave England 85 runs as Stokes clobbered Kuldeep and Krunal to all parts of the ground – putting England in a strong position in the chase.
Stokes, who smashed 10 sixes and 4 boundaries, could not go on to complete his century and fell for 99 as he gloved a short one from Bhuvneshwar to Pant.
Off the next over, Prasidh struck and dismissed Bairstow when Kohli took a sharp catch. A few deliveries later, the Karnataka pacer produced a beautiful yorker to clean up the captain Jos Buttler for 0, reducing England to 287/4 and giving the hosts some hope of rescuing the game.
However, it was too little too late as debutant Liam Livingstone announced his arrival on the scene with a couple of sixes of Bhuvneshwar and along with Dawid Malan took England over the line at a canter.
The World Champions won the game with 39 deliveries to spare. The two teams face-off in the decider on Sunday.
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