Centurion Bairstow, Stokes fifty set India daunting 338
Jonny Bairstow blazed a maiden World Cup century against India. © AFP

BIRMINGHAM: A day before England’s match against India, Eoin Morgan had expressed his desire to risk Jason Roy for the game, and even though the opener was clearly not a 100 percent, it proved to be a wise decision. Roy, who missed England’s previous three matches, on Sunday, reunited with Jonny Bairstow at the top and the side’s fortunes changed.

On a flat Edgbaston surface, Roy and Bairstow put up their ninth century-plus stand in ODIs, adding 160 in just 22 overs. It was exactly the kind of strong start which had made England the top-ranked team in the world, but more importantly, one that they so desperately needed. Against India, it finally came and allowed England to dominate their way to 337/7 with Bairstow scoring his eighth ODI ton, later aide by Ben Stokes‘ brisk half-century.

India clawed their way back in the middle overs, with Mohammed Shami‘s five-wicket-haul giving them hope of restricting England under 150, but Stokes’ 79 off 56 douses them.

Coming off a rip-roaring performances in the previous two ODIs, Jasprit Bumrah and Shami tested Roy and Bairstow. From the moment Roy crunched a couple of boundaries in the first over, England’s confidence returned. Despite not being full fit – he noticeable not sprinting between the wickets – Roy turned to what he’s best at, attack.

England and India had quite a different reading on the pitch. England dropped Moeen Ali for an additional seam option in Liam Plunkett, whereas India stuck to both their wristspinner. Though once Roy tore into Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav – they combined to cost 97 in 10 overs – it looked as if England judged the conditions better. Between over 14 and 21, England thumped seven sixes and for the first time in the tournament, India’s bowlers were under the pump.

Roy looked in imperious touch. He welcomed Chahal with back to back boundaries and pounded Hardik Pandya for a six and four off his first over. Kuldeep was drilled down the wicket and Roy’s fifty was raised off 41 balls. India were unlucky not to get Roy’s wicket. Off Pandya, Roy executed a loose pull which went to MS Dhoni and was given a wide. India, who appealed, did not go for the review although there was a spike depicting the ball had brushed the glove.

Kuldeep’s first four cost 46 but Virat Kohli persisted with him and the move resulted in India’s first breakthrough with Substitute Ravindra Jadeja taking a catch that probably will give Stokes and Sheldon Cottrell stiff competition for the catch of the tournament so far. But Bairstow continued to play strokes. He dished out a pasting to Chahal and Kuldeep, playing the reverse sweeps and bringing up his hundred with a six. The helmet was dropped to the ground and the arms went up. Michael Vaughan was one of the firsts to congratulate Bairstow on twitter.

England were motoring along at 183 for 1 in 26 overs before Shami returned and struck to remove Bairstow – a slap to deep backward point. From there, Kuldeep, Pandya and Shami stifled England’s scoring. Shami picked up his second wicket in two overs by bouncing out Morgan. England went 10 overs without a boundary and Shami’s crippling third spell read 3-1-3-2.

India’s worst bower of the day was Chahal and Stokes took him on to break the shackles. A couple of boundaries were followed by a reverse sweep for six. Even Joe Root, who was content with mostly singles, collected his first boundary after 33 balls off Chahal, who finished wicketless and having conceded 88 runs – his worst figures in ODIs. The partnership between Stokes and Root was 71 off 64 balls with the allrounder spiking England’s rate to over 6.

England had to contend with India’s pacers in the final six overs but their hopes to accelerate received a major dent when Shami removed Root first ball of his fourth spell and then sent back Jos Buttler. Next ball, Shami celebrated his maiden five-wicket-haul with the wicket of Chris Woakes but Stokes took England close to 340 before falling to Bumrah in the final over.

Brief Scores: England 337/7 (Jonny Bairstow 111, Jason Roy 66; Mohammed Shami 5/69) vs India.