Rohit Sharma blasted his 25th century and had shared a brilliant 138-run stand with Virat Kohli. The Indian cricket team skipper is considered the ultimate chase master as the team looked to achieve the highest run-chase in World Cup history. Kohli had created a record by smashing his fifth consecutive fifty. However, Liam Plunkett managed to get Kohli driving loosely to backward point as the skipper fell for 66. The 138-run stand had consumed 155 balls and India were playing catch-up in response to England’s massive score. Rishabh Pant and Hardik Pandya kept the fight alive but once Plunkett took both of them, India’s chase ended in a whimper and they lost by 31 runs. For England, the win kept their hopes of reaching the semi-final alive and this was their first win against India since the 1992 World Cup clash in Perth.
Chasing 338, India had started disastrously when KL Rahul fell for 0 to Chris Woakes. England’s bowlers bowled in the right areas and did not give the Indian players easy runs. Rohit survived a dropped chance on 4 by Joe Root off Jofra Archer and the batsman capitalised with a boundary. Kohli looked in good touch with two boundaries off Archer but England ensured they never got going. Rohit and Kohli looked to break the shackles but the asking rate mounted.
Both batsmen went past fifties and they opened up. Rohit smashed three consecutive boundaries off Ben Stokes while Kohli found the boundaries consistently. However, once Plunkett got Kohli, all hopes hinged on Rohit and the middle order. The Mumbai batsman closed in on his landmark with two boundaries off Mark Wood. Rishabh Pant, playing in his first game, looked nervous as the asking rate mounted.
Rohit reached his 25th century and third in this tournament but Woakes dealt the killer blow when Rohit miscued a slow off-cutter to Jos Buttler. Hardik Pandya held the key and he immediately looked to keep India in the game and he blasted three boundaries off Woakes in the 39th over. However, Plunkett continued to dent India and England were rewarded when Pant miscued a hoick to long leg only for Woakes to dive to his left and take a brilliant catch near the boundary. Pandya kept the fight going but in Plunkett’s final over, the all-rounder miscued the lofted shot and was caught at long on.
The chase fizzled out after that and India tamely lost the game with MS Dhoni and Kedar Jadhav unable to score freely in the death overs. The win for England will give them massive relief after the game was brilliantly set by Jonny Bairstow and Jason Roy after England chose to bat.
Bairstow and Roy, playing his first game after suffering a hamstring injury, galvanised the top order brilliantly as they began aggressively. The powerplay yielded 47 runs as the platform was built for an onslaught. Roy blasted Hardik Pandya for a boundary and a six and that opened the floodgates. Both batsmen found the boundary every over with India’s spinners coming under pressure.
Bairstow reached his fifty with two sixes off Yuzvendra Chahal while Roy also notched up his fifty. The 160-run stand was broken when Roy mistimed the lofted shot off Kuldeep only for Ravindra Jadeja, the substitute for KL Rahul who injured himself to take a splendid catch. Bairstow continued on his merry ways and notched up his maiden World Cup century.
However, India’s bowlers varied the pace in the middle overs and managed to restrict England. The hosts looked like scoring in excess of 350 but in the middle period, they managed just 65 runs in 14 overs, with Mohammed Shami wreaking havoc again. Ben Stokes, though, had other ideas and he flayed the bowling to all parts of the ground and he was given good support by Jos Buttler. Stokes notched up his fifty and although Shami took his maiden five-wicket haul, the exploits of Bairstow and Roy has ensured England fight another day in the race for the semi-finals.