Indian top-order fell like ninepins as Reece Topley’s 6 for 24 headlined a fine England bowling performance in a series-levelling 100-run win while defending a modest target in the second ODI at the Lord’s.
With parity restored in the three-match series, the decider at the Old Trafford in Manchester on Sunday promises to be a mouth-watering contest.
When the Indian bowlers put up another impressive show to bowl out England for 246 in 49 overs, little did one know that the visiting batters would inexplicably implode for a paltry 146 in 38.5 overs in the face of nice seam and swing bowling from Topley.
David Willey (1/27 in 9 overs), seasoned Moeen Ali (1/30) and Liam Livingstone (1/4) also played their parts to perfection. Topley’s figures were the best by an Englishman at the ‘Mecca of Cricket’.
Having won the first game by 10 wickets, the Indian team couldn’t have comprehended that the wheels of fortune would turn so swiftly.
With Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli and Rishabh Pant all back in the dressing room just after the first Powerplay and only 31 runs on board, there was only one possible result.
Suryakumar Yadav (27), Hardik Pandya (29) and Ravindra Jadeja (29) did try their bit but the scores would certainly provide a bigger picture of the kind of plight Indian batters endured during the chase.
Dhawan (9 off 26 balls) and skipper Rohit (0 off 9 balls) looked distinctly uncomfortable as 6 feet 5 inch tall Topley hit the seam and, with his height, also extracted disconcerting bounce consistently.
Knowing that Rohit is a compulsive hooker and puller, Topley kept it full and a typical left-armer’s delivery that goes through with the angle found the Indian captain plumb in-front.
Dhawan, whose stay at the wicket was as painful as Rohit, tickled one down the leg-side to Jos Buttler.
Kohli’s 22-second brisk walk down the Lord’s Long Room was elegantly filmed by the broadcasters as he was seen getting his collars up while entering the playing arena.
It was followed by three picturesque shots — an off-drive, an on-drive and a cover drive — all out of top drawer but the propensity to play everything on front-foot brought about his downfall.
Left-arm pacer Willey angled one on the off-stump and once again the former India captain misjudged the length with his front-foot trigger. The resultant nick was gleefully accepted by skipper Buttler behind the stumps.
Rishabh Pant (0) in a blue Indian jersey has often been a pale shadow of what he is in white flannels. A full toss was deposited to the mid-on fielder off seamer Brydon Carse. It was 31 for 4 and suddenly a target of 247 looked mammoth.
Suryakumar Yadav (27 off 29 balls) seemed to start from where he had left in Nottingham during that incredible T20 hundred.
Along with Pandya, he added 42 runs before Topley, coming in for his second spell, got one to bounce extra and forced the batter to go for a non-existent cut shot when there was bare minimum room for execution.
Earlier, Yuzvendra Chahal’s clever variations complemented by Hardik Pandya’s steady fast medium bowling saw India bowl out England for a manageable 246 in 49 overs after opting to field.
However, it was Moeen Ali (47 off 64 balls) who took the attack back to the opposition camp with his audacious hooked and pulled sixes interspersed with slog sweeps as England’s total had some semblance of respectability after the feared top-order promised much but delivered little.
Moeen and David Willey (41 off 49 balls) added 62 runs for the seventh wicket to help set up a 250-run target after 200 looked improbable at one point in time.
On a two-paced track, Chahal (10-0-47-4) was brilliant in managing his lengths while giving the ball a lot of air as he got rid of England’s ‘Big Three’ — Jonny Bairstow (38), Joe Root (11) and Ben Stokes (21) — and then snuffed out Moeen just when he was looking dangerous.
At the other end, Pandya (6-0-28-2), who is slowly getting his bowling rhythm back, chipped in with wickets of Jason Roy (23) and Liam Livingstone (33) to choke the run-flow as Rohit Sharma had another fine day in office, maneuvering his six-man attack.
Mohammed Shami (10-0-48-1) was regal as usual as he castled rival skipper Jos Buttler (4) with a sharp inswinger that tailed in late.
Jasprit Bumrah (10-1-49-2) and Shami were once again in the zone although it wasn’t as big a debacle for England compared to the opening game.
It was during the middle overs that Chahal was excellent as he controlled the white Kookaburra like a yo-yo, at times pushing the delivery fuller and at times shortening the length.
The deliveries to dismiss Bairstow, Root and Stokes were all of varying lengths while Moeen Ali, towards the fag-end, was done in by the line of the delivery.
But it all came to a nought at the end of it all.