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Cakewalk

Yesterday’s intriguing decider at Headlingley was a complete letdown if you’re a neutral. Fortunately, I’m about as neutral as Fox News. Therefore the fact the decider proved to be a cross between a walk in the park and a piece of cake (hence the title above) was extremely sweet … a bit like eating a Victoria sponge as one strolls through Kew.

The victory couldn’t have been more emphatic. And it was all set up by our bowlers for a change. Mark Wood was superb – he can do it you see! – and the spinners did a fantastic job too. Adil Rashid was simply magnificent, and the ripper he produced to dismiss Kohli was possibly the ball of the summer. It was certainly the ball of his career to date. Kohli’s stunned faced was a picture. He looked completely dumbfounded. Much like Jacob Rees Mogg when he saw the Chequers deal I imagine.

The ball that got Kohli was so good because it drifted in late and pitched on that awkward length that made it hard to know whether to go forward or back. The drift was somewhat reminiscent of Shane Warne’s famous Gatting-ball, and it spun almost as viciously – pitching around leg-stump and then clipping the off-stump. In hindsight Kohli probably should have got himself forward, but even then it may have ripped past his out-side edge anyway. The Indian skipper looked lost for words. “Well bowled” would have sufficed.

Rashid was also responsible for a couple of other important wickets that pegged India back. Karthik and Raina might not be big guns but their dismissals really swung momentum England’s way and forced Dhoni to play conservatively once again. David Willey also had a good day with the ball, taking the key wicket of Sharma early on and then bowling a clutch over at the death.

Although an irksome ninth wicket partnership saw India recover slightly to 256 after their 50 overs, this was never likely to bother England’s powerful batting line-up. The only real worry was how we might cope with the spinners, especially as Rashid and Moeen had bowled so well on this dry surface. I needn’t have worried though. Although Kuldeep troubled Eoin Morgan early on, the skipper eventually settled in and played a real captain’s innings.

The real star with the bat, however, was Joe Root. He made his second hundred in the space of a few days and looked every inch the class act he’s always been. Chasing totals around 250 is normally pretty straightforward when one of the top order makes a century and so it proved. Joe just batted sensibly, which was all that was required, and India simply didn’t have the firepower to trouble him. Only AB de Villiers, Hashim Amla, and Kohli have better ODI records than England’s star player.

Having said that, India’s seamers will be really kicking themselves. Virat needed his bowlers to start well if they were to have any chance of defending their inadequate total. Instead they served up a miserable buffet of long-hops and half-volleys. It was almost as bad as Martin McCague at Brisbane all those years ago. Vince and Bairstow tucked in with relish and any pressure soon evaporated like a pearl of perspiration on the nape of Eugene Bouchard’s neck.

And that’s where I’ll leave things. With an obscure Wimbledon reference that nobody will get. England will be cock-a-hoop after beating their big rivals and have cemented their status as World Cup favourites. India, on the other hand, have plenty of work to do. One suspects they’ll lose more games that they win against England unless they find another reliable middle-order batsman and some bowlers who can bat. Having a long-tail seems sooooo last millennium.

James Morgan

2018-07-18T09:47:59+00:00 July 18th, 2018|Eng v Ind 2018, ODIs & T20|18 Comments

18 Comments

  1. James July 18, 2018 at 8:08 am - Reply

    Morning James. I went to the game yesterday (great day out, let down by a very mediocre game of cricket!). When the crowd starts doing Mexican waves, you can tell the game isn’t riveting! As a minor point the irritating stand was actually for the eighth wicket, not ninth (it was particularly irritating since I lost £10 betting with my mate on the final score!). I thought Thakur did pretty well for India with both bat and ball. Mind you, Bairstow played an awful shot to get out. And he was looking in great touch.

    Rashid was (as you say) excellent, though I don’t think the ball to get Kohli (a top ball) spun quite like the “ball of the century”. In Martin Johnson’s memorable phrase, that spun “the entire width of Mike Gatting”. Getting rid of Karthik and Raina in the same over swung the game England’s way. Wood was hostile and economical, and quicker than any of the Indian bowlers.

    The Indian spinners did seem surprisingly toothless (once Vince had finished panicking and getting run out), although things might have been different if England had been chasing another 50 -70. The low (in modern terms) target allowed them to avoid risky 2’s, and to play themselves in against Yadav and Chahal. What luck there was (and little was needed) went England’s way too. A stumping appeal off Yadav was called (rightly I think) as a no ball, and Root hit the resulting free hot for 4. Morgan was dropped late off Pandya. None of that detracts from the fact that England were far the better side on the day. I think India need another middle order batsman (for Raina) also need to think about whether MS Dhoni’s powers are waning. I realise he had to play conservatively, but Hh doesn’t seem to be able to take games by the scruff of the neck any more. They should consider blooding someone else (Rishabh Pant, perhaps) in good time for the world cup.

    The test series will, I think, be far closer. Bring it on.

  2. Simon H July 18, 2018 at 8:44 am - Reply

    Nice ball by Rashid… but too slow.

    • Nigel July 18, 2018 at 9:46 am - Reply

      As Rashid now has the best strike rate of any England spinner who has played regular ODI cricket, that’s a something of a moot point.

    • James July 18, 2018 at 10:06 am - Reply

      Maybe you had to bowl it a bit slower to get the turn?

    • Hamish July 18, 2018 at 10:51 am - Reply

      Fast enough to knock the bail off which is really all that matters.

  3. Paul July 18, 2018 at 9:27 am - Reply

    Poor performance by India all around. The bowling wasn’t great, Bhuvi’s return from injury hasn’t started off well, the spinners were made to look innocuous, and the fielding was in the pits. They dropped Rahul to accomodate Raina, which makes zero sense in my book. Not sure why Raina is there, it’s a given that he will not be a part of India’s WC plans for next year, so it’s mystifying. Plenty of work to do to make this team more competitive.

  4. Colin July 18, 2018 at 9:36 am - Reply

    Credit as well to Eoin Morgan who batted very responsibly

    • James July 18, 2018 at 10:05 am - Reply

      Agreed Colin, though he had time to play himself in against the spinners, which is not a luxury you always get in ODI cricket. That said, it’s a luxury England haven’t always taken advantage of when offered, so maybe this shows a greater maturity?

  5. Len July 18, 2018 at 9:41 am - Reply

    Beautifully written without a hint of smugness. Love it.

    Now bring on Afghanastan and we have the complete set.

    PS can we make the World Cup final best of 5 just in case…..

    well you know….

    Oh dear, here we go again with the self doubt.

  6. Marc Evans July 18, 2018 at 10:25 am - Reply

    Hopefully if we can get into them early at Edgbaston their confidence might take a terminal dent for the series. Even the usually unflappable Dhoni looks out of sorts. What Hales and Roy might have done to yesterday’s bowling doesn’t bare thinking about. Vince still looks like .. well, Vince. Good to see our bowlers starting to develop some consistency. Stokes still looks well short of that X-factor though.
    Good to see as well that we’ve had 3 pitches in this series that have given bowlers a bit of help. Feather beds don’t make for interesting contests. Could still come down to which of Kohli or Root makes the most impact. From watching yesterday’s highlights and I know it’s ODI and not Test cricket, Kohli does seem inclined to chase wide of the off stump, where his wrists can’t come into play as easily. Will be interesting to see what lines the bowlers bowl to him and what fields Root sets. He’s certainly playing like a batsman who knows he’s his side’s talisman and is reluctant to risk much. Root has been playing under that pressure for a while now.

    To me you have to go back to he likes of Greg Chappell against Viv Richards for a potential batting duel of this class in a series. Be interesting to hear what others on this blog feel about it. Are these 2 that good or are the rest not and make them seem better by default. We’re talking about class here, not just stats, there’s no fun in that. I know there’s no Holding, Roberts, Marshall or Ambrose to rough you up these days, but you can only play against what’s put in front of you.

    • James Morgan July 18, 2018 at 11:04 am - Reply

      I think Root versus Steve Smith in the winter was a similarly big contest. Shame Joe wasn’t able to win that particular duel. I think India’s batting will be a little better in the test matches to be honest. I’m a big fan of Rahane and Pujara so I expect they’ll add some much needed stability. Murali Vijay is a decent batsman too with a pretty good record against England.

      Personally I think India will be more of a threat in the test matches. The bowling will be more threatening too with the likes of Ashwin, Jadeja and even Mohammad Shami itching to play. It will be a very tough series and I wouldn’t be surprised if India win, especially if Kohli performs well.

    • James July 23, 2018 at 12:43 pm - Reply

      Dhoni hasn’t been Dhoni-like for 2-3 years now. He doesn’t take a game and grab it by the scruff of the neck any more. I’m a bit surprised India haven’t used this series to blood an alternative (KL Rahul and Rishabh Pant are the most likely). I’m not convinced Dhoni should play in next year’s world cup (both on cricketing grounds and his previous involvement with CSK and the Srinivasan dynasty).

  7. Hamish July 18, 2018 at 11:08 am - Reply

    Would put any of the battles between Ponting, Lara, Tendulkar and Kallis up there surely…

  8. Jackie Litherland July 18, 2018 at 11:21 am - Reply

    Thought it was Joe’s best innings for a while. Great to see him get a century off the last ball. He was out of form for quite a time so it must be a thrill for him to get it back before the Test Series. He’s our key player. If the openers get out early again then he has to step in with a responsible innings. For a time he was a bit impatient and in a sense wanted to hit out. There’s time in Test cricket to do both – at the appropriate times. A bit more maturity from Joe. Something you learn from failure.

  9. Comte July 18, 2018 at 1:09 pm - Reply

    I watched very little of this but England were clearly the superior team. India don’t look particularly strong under pressure and although many people are predicting a close fought Test series, I doubt that it will be unless Kohli shows some decent form not evident on previous tours.

  10. Simon H July 19, 2018 at 1:07 pm - Reply

    From what Hoult’s reporting, the T16.66 plans are getting dafter by the day….

    Five ball overs? Except when the captain decides it’s ten? Simplicity itself!

  11. Steve Omant July 20, 2018 at 9:35 am - Reply

    Have been following this series as a neutral from Australia. With England so apparently dominant and in top form, I just wonder if they haven’t peaked too early. Is holding your form as difficult as finding you form ? Australia and India have shown they have room for improvement, from reading this blog over the months (and years) I get the impression that the England ODI team are a finished product. 12 months is a long time…..Steve

  12. Simon H July 21, 2018 at 9:29 pm - Reply

    Ah, the problem with The Hundred is that it’s 40 balls too long….

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