Rohit ton, Shami’s five not enough as England hand India first loss
India will have to wait to secure their semi-final spot. (AFP Image)

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 reunited with Jonny Bairstow at the top to provide England an explosive start and they never looked back.

Mohammed Shami claimed his maiden five-wicket-haul in ODIs but it was eclipsed by Bairstow’s century, and Roy and Ben Stokes‘ fifties, leaving India a daunting 338 to chase down. India responded inspiringly through another Rohit Sharma century – his third of the tournament but a slow start – fashioned by Chris Woakes and Liam Plunkett‘s tidy bowling – and Virat Kohli‘s failure to covert yet another fifty into a hundred stifled India. England hit 13 sixes. India, just one – in the final over.

Rishabh Pant and Hardik Pandya tried. MS Dhoni remained unbeaten on 42 off 31. But the asking rate was way too much, and England’s bowling just that good. In the end, India finished on 306/5, falling short by 31 runs and will have to wait before they secure a semi-final spot.

After England opted to bat. Roy and Bairstow put up their ninth century-plus stand in ODIs, adding 160 in just 22 overs which allowed England to dominate. India clawed their way back in the middle overs, with Shami’s three-wicket burst but Stokes’ 79 off 56 gave England a late push.

From the moment Roy crunched a couple of boundaries in the first over, England’s confidence seemed to return. 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 Plunkett, whereas India stuck to both their wristspinner. Though once Roy tore into Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav – they gave away 160 in 20 – it looked as if England judged the conditions better. Between over 14 and 21, England thumped seven sixes.

Roy welcomed Chahal with back to back boundaries and pounded 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 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 Kohli persisted with him and the move resulted in India’s first breakthrough with substitute Ravindra Jadeja taking a spectacular catch diving forward at long-on. Bairstow dished out a pasting to Chahal and Kuldeep, and brought up his hundred with a six.

England were motoring along before Shami returned and struck to remove Bairstow – a slap to deep backward point. 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. A couple of boundaries were followed by a reverse sweep for six. Even Joe Root, who was mostly pushing the ball into the gaps, collected his first boundary after 33 balls.

England had to contend with India’s pacers in the final six overs but their hopes to accelerate received a 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 Woakes.

Needing almost seven an over, India lost KL Rahul for a nine-ball duck with Woakes bowling three straight maidens. Even with Rohit and Kohli, the initial phase remained a struggle. The variable bounce of the surface in the first 10 overs made the going tough. Plunkett, getting the nod ahead of Moeen Ali, sent down back-of-a-length cross-seamers to make keep the batsmen quiet. To India’s credit, no harm was done although Kohli and Rohit chalked out the lowest Powerplay score of the tournament.

Jofra Archer teased Kohli outside off and the trap almost worked with the India captain edging one past slips. But Kohli managed to see off the threat with consecutive boundaries and nonchalantly dispatched Woakes over cover. Mark Wood went full to him and Kohli laced him for another boundary.

However, after Archer was seen off, Kohli and Rohit grew in confidence. Plunkett missed his length narrowly and Kohli was quick to bring out those lightening wrists, and when he bowled full, the skipper whipped the ball between mid-on and midwicket to reach his half-century.

Rohit collected a four and a lifeline either side of a drive, an even though he struggled for timing, he got into his zone once Stokes and Adil Rashid were brought on. With an inside-out drive over extra cover, Rohit reached his fifty and creamed three consecutive boundaries off Stokes.

The platform was set for one of them to get a hundred, and for the fifth time in the tournament, it wasn’t Kohli. With Rashid and Stokes leaking runs, Morgan turned to Plunkett and he had Kohli driving away from his body to gulp a catch to substitute James Vince at gully. But Rohit converted his into three figures. From his first 50 runs off 65 balls, Rohit took just 41 to score his next. But with the asking rate hovering like a sword, Rohit took a chance and perished caught behind.

Pant had an adventurous start. Off his first three balls, Pant survived getting run out twice and an LBW shout but managed to roll his way to a typical 32 off 29, attempting a reverse sweep and lobbing the bat in the air. With Pant and Hardik Pandya, India were expected to explode and the allrounder did not hold back. Woakes, England’s best bowler was smashed for three boundaries in a row.

With Plunkett targetting his body, Pant whipped towards deep extra but a diving Woakes pulled off a sensational catch. Pandya and Dhoni couldn’t bring out the big shots with Archer, Wood and Plunkett taking pace off. When Dhoni and Kedar Jadhav came together, India still had an outside chance with 71 needed off final five, but the lift never really arrived. Jadhav and Dhoni added 39 off 31 with five wickets in hand, an approach that will definitely be questioned.

Brief Scores: England 337/7 (Jonny Bairstow 111, Jason Roy 66; Mohammed Shami 5/69) beat India 306/5 (Rohit Sharma 102, Virat Kohli 66; Liam Plunkett 3/55) by 31 runs.