Bairstow si­lences bhangra beat in Birm­ing­ham

The Daily Telegraph - - Front page - By Tom Mor­gan Sports news cor­re­spon­dent at Edg­bas­ton

ON ANY other day, Edg­bas­ton is Eng­land’s crick­et­ing bear pit; a rau­cous, par­ti­san arena where ri­vals fear to tread. Not yes­ter­day, though, when our so-called “12th man” had shown up in an In­dia shirt, and brought 20,000 mates along with him. This Bom­bay bash in Birm­ing­ham saw home fans out­num­bered eight to one amid an in­va­sion of rev­ellers who started danc­ing and singing at 6am. For 12 hours, the city was theirs be­fore Eng­land fi­nally stole the party, seal­ing a cru­cial vic­tory to re­vive their hopes of a place in the World Cup semi-fi­nals.

With the crowd against them, Eng­land, af­ter back-to-back de­feats, flour­ished in their new­found sta­tus as underdogs. The stakes were im­pos­si­bly high but Eoin Mor­gan’s side held their nerve in a 31-run suc­cess, end­ing In­dia’s un­de­feated streak in the tour­na­ment. Pre-match com­ments from Jonny Bairstow had only added to the pres­sure on Eng­land. His sug­ges­tion that crit­ics were “wait­ing for us to fail” had been poorly re­ceived, but he re­paid any lin­ger­ing debt in style, strik­ing 111 to help se­cure the win­ning in­nings of 337 for seven.

Last night, match-win­ner Bairstow said the “fa­nat­i­cal” In­dian sup­port had been an in­spi­ra­tion. “You can either be in­tim­i­dated by it or you can go and rel­ish it and en­joy it.”

He added: “I think the ex­pe­ri­ence of guys now play­ing around the world in dif­fer­ent com­pe­ti­tions, es­pe­cially in the IPL, al­lows peo­ple to get used to the noise and en­joy how fa­nat­i­cal the In­dian pub­lic are about our great game.”

Un­like per­haps any World Cup home game in his­tory, this do-or-die vic­tory came with­out much sup­port in­side the ground.

In the famed Hol­lies Stand, nor­mally the pre­serve of Eng­land’s diehard sup­port in fancy dress, there was only a sea of In­dian flags.

For the play­ers, it was the weird­est

of dy­nam­ics: home ad­van­tage in­verted. Eng­land’s Barmy Army had either failed to turn up or were drowned out as the crowd bounced to the beats of In­dian bhangra mu­sic.

This was an arena where Vi­rat Kohli, In­dia’s record-break­ing bats­man, was king. In­dian sup­port­ers ar­rived from all corners of the planet. One In­dian couple trav­elled from Syd­ney, but the ma­jor­ity ar­rived on flights from Mum­bai and Dehli.

The ground is or­di­nar­ily Eng­land’s ver­sion of Aus­tralia’s Gabba, with a vi­cious home sup­port that comes into its own dur­ing the Ashes. In­stead, the stand named af­ter the spin­ner Eric Hol­lies – who bowled Don­ald Brad­man for a duck in the Aus­tralian’s fi­nal Test in­nings – was an In­dian car­ni­val.

Con­cern has been voiced that in­ter­est in cricket is dwin­dling among younger gen­er­a­tions. Yes­ter­day, how­ever, the delir­ium from the away sup­port, even in de­feat, was rem­i­nis­cent of scenes of the foot­ball World Cup last sum­mer. If cricket needs res­cu­ing, the In­di­ans have some good ad­vice to of­fer.

Eng­land are now guar­an­teed semi-fi­nal qual­i­fi­ca­tion if they beat New Zealand at Ch­ester-le-street in their last group game.

Eng­land’s Jonny Bairstow cel­e­brates reach­ing his cen­tury dur­ing the ICC Cricket World Cup group stage match against In­dia at Edg­bas­ton, which the hosts won by 31 runs

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