We could’ve had bet­ter strat­egy for Kohli, ad­mits Root

John Stern watches a ram­pant In­dian team brush Eng­land’s at­tack aside dur­ing a spec­tac­u­lar run-chase

The Cricket Paper - - ODI SERIES -

It was not so much a game of two halves, as a team of two halves. Eng­land proved what we al­ready know – that their one-day bat­ting can be as ex­plo­sive as any in the world but their bowl­ing, on flat pitches and small grounds, can look like can­non fod­der.

Cap­tain Eoin Mor­gan ad­mit­ted as much be­fore, and after, the three-wicket de­feat that was a thrilling, roller­coaster ride for the neu­tral – not that there were any of those among the 37,000 sea of bright blue in­side the Ma­ha­rash­tra Cricket Sta­dium – but was a cruel, painful loss for Eng­land.

“We bowled bril­liantly early on but our hope is that as our bowlers be­come more ex­pe­ri­enced they can come up with good enough skills,” said Mor­gan af­ter­wards.

Eye­brows were raised at Eng­land’s se­lec­tion punt to go with Jake Ball ahead of the pacier, more hos­tile Liam Plun­kett, who had re­cov­ered from his calf in­jury.

Mor­gan ad­mit­ted that their plan to stop Vi­rat Kohli re­volved around get­ting the In­dian skip­per off strike and try­ing to take wick­ets at the other end.

It sounds fine in the­ory but when the man at the other end – un­sung and al­most un­known lo­cal boy Kedar Jad­hav – smashes a 65-ball hun­dred, Eng­land’s plan starts to look a lit­tle oned­i­men­sional or al­most com­pla­cent.

When Kohli had a lit­tle pre-match dig at Eng­land about them lack­ing a Plan B, he was ac­tu­ally re­fer­ring to their gungho bat­ting, the go-hard-or-go-home at­ti­tude that has helped them raise the bar time after time in white-ball cricket over the past two years, cul­mi­nat­ing in a world-record one-day score of 444 against Pak­istan at Trent Bridge last sum­mer.

But Joe Root, who top-scored with 78 in Eng­land’s in­nings, ac­knowl­edged that Eng­land might need to re­visit their strate­gies against In­dia’s premier bats­man. Root ob­served that they had a five-over win­dow in which to get their man after MS Dhoni had de­parted and In­dia were on the brink at 63-4.

“One thing we no­ticed is that early on he chanced his arm, which you have to, I sup­pose, to get up near the run rate,” said Root.

“He got one just over third man and it looked like we were go­ing to take a wicket at any stage in that pe­riod. In hind­sight if we could have had slightly more in­di­vid­ual plans for him then that could have been a way to go.”

But the para­dox for Eng­land is that while their bowl­ing in In­dian con­di­tions might be reg­u­larly ex­posed, they are, broadly speak­ing, per­form­ing at their cur­rent limit.

Whereas the bat­ting line-up is so pow­er­ful and so deep that 350-7 was, also in hind­sight, a below-par score.

It might have been their high­est to­tal against In­dia and, in­deed, Eng­land had never failed to de­fend such a large score be­fore but, as Root ad­mit­ted, how much is enough?

He said: “If we want to be the best one-day side in the world then the way we are think­ing in the dress­ing room is that we’ve made the high­est score in one-day cricket now and we want to get close to it more con­sis­tently.

“We are do­ing it but we want to con­tinue to do it and I sup­pose games like the other day are a good learn­ing ex­pe­ri­ence be­cause we had three guys get 50-plus but they had two guys get hun­dreds.

“We are get­ting bet­ter at it but if we want to win and be the best across world cricket then we’ve got to do it a lot. We’ve got the tal­ent but we’ve got to do it more of­ten and make real big hun­dreds and strive to get three or four guys in the top ten in the world.

In the cold light of day, Eng­land’s in­nings show­cased the depth of their bat­ting – they scored 105 off the last eight overs – and their abil­ity to res­cue in­nings from any sit­u­a­tion.

But they should not have left them­selves so much to do in al­most per­fect bat­ting con­di­tions.

Painful: Eng­land’s Chris Woakes re­acts to a bound­ary dur­ing Kohli and Jad­hav’s huge stand

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