Eoin Morgan gave India a mighty scare with a counterattacking century before the hosts pulled off a close 15-run win in the second ODI and clinch the series in Cuttack’s Barabati Stadium on Thursday. Yet another run- fest saw 747 runs being scored in 100 overs on a belter of a track as England fought hard to stay alive. Chasing 382, they came quite close but finished on 366/8, handing India a 2-0 series win with a game to spare.
The pitch was a full of runs and armed with some of the biggest hitters of the cricket ball in their rank, England always fancied their chances of chasing down the mammoth target. With a required rate touching eight, there was no room to settle in and explode. Alex Hales and Jason Roy provided them with the early push adding 28 in 23 balls. Jasprit Bumrah gave them an early blow though, getting rid of Hales for 14. England quickly moved on from that as Jason Roy and Joe Root took charge of the hunt, each matching the other stroke by stroke. While Bhuvneshwar Kumar bowled with much control, not allowing enough room for them to break free. Root managed to hit two fours off him to push him out of the attack. They found the release through Bumrah and then through Hardik Pandya.
They scored at a similar pace and reached their fifties, almost at the same time. They had quickly added 100 runs for the second wicket. With the scorecard reading 128/1 and 182 balls remaining, England were in the game. It was then that Root miscued a shot, going for a slog sweep off Ravichandran Ashwin who was bowling his first over of the match. He was caught at midwicket for 54. Roy was in lethal form, finding regular boundaries and was unaffected by Root’s dismissal. Ashwin’s spin twin Ravindra Jadeja was bowling sensibly, wicket to wicket and varying the pace. He was rewarded when one skipped past Roy’s blade to crash on the stumps who scored 82 off 73 with nine fours and two sixes. Next man Ben Stokes (1) didn’t last long as did Jos Buttler (10) – both falling to the guile of Ashwin. England lost half their side, requiring 176 runs more to keep the series alive.
But captain Eoin Morgan became the fulcrum of the innings and found an able partner in Moeen Ali. Together, they kept Indian team nervous, so much so that Moeen survived two chances – a run out and a dropped catch. Encouraged by those lives, he struck a brisk fifty in 40 balls following his skipper Morgan who reached his in 53. With the ever rising run-rate, the duo went on a rampage. The carnage began in the 43rd over from which England collected 15 runs.
Then Bhuvneshwar removed Moeen to dent the chase in the next over but Morgan refused to budge. With Liam Plunkett in tow, he milked Bumrah and Bhuvneshwar for 30 runs in 12 balls and before he was run out, had completed a memorable hundred. His wicket put to rest any hope of an England win as they eventually fell short by 15 runs.
Fewer sights in cricket are as captivating and entertaining than Yuvraj Singh, the batsman, in his elements. And it has been a long time since he has been in one of his moods. A vintage Yuvraj played a breathtaking knock of 150 runs, his first century since 2011 World Cup and 14th overall. Together with his partner MS Dhoni, who also scored a century, he pulled India out of trouble in a record partnership worth 256 runs off 230 balls for the fourth wicket.
It was a typical Yuvraj knock, laced with 21 fours and three sixes as he recorded his highest total in ODIs. Unlike his predecessors, who departed quickly after a blazing start, he was watchful. He safely rode the nervy phase before opening up by cracking three fours in one over.
The English bowlers tested him by dropping short, he responded with controlled pulls. When the length was on the fuller side, he leaned forward to unleash elegant drives. Though each of his boundaries were pleasant, a few stood out, especially a gentle lift over the long-off fence for his first six of the innings.
When he neared his century, there were absolutely no signs of any nervousness. A couple took him to 95 which was followed by a full-blooded drive for four wide of mid-off region. A single two balls later took him to three figures in 98 balls, followed by a measured celebration as bandana-clad Yuvraj took off his helmet, wiped a tear or two and soaked in the adulation from the capacity crowd.
England, for a second time in a row, had India on the mat after jolting them with three early strikes. India retaliated with twin strikes of their own which eventually proved fatal.