Kuldeep Yadav picked up his maiden five-wicket haul in One-Day International cricket to derail England in the first match of the three-match series at the run-filled Trent Bridge as the hosts ended with a below-par 268 all out on Thursday (July 12). Jos Buttler stroked a fine half-century but with others struggling, England fell way short of replicating the mayhem they unleashed on Australia when an ODI was last played in Nottingham.
With the outfield laid to put a billiards table to shame, the boundaries short enough to give the bowlers nightmares and a flat pitch on offer, both teams arrived at the venue hoping for a run fest. As things panned out, India’s wrist spinners dominated proceedings to put England’s struggles against quality spinners under the spotlight.
If the misery of watching the Three Lions getting knocked out of the FIFA World Cup semifinal wasn’t enough, Kuldeep and Yuzvendra Chahal collaborated to scratch the wounds left on the batting line-up after the T20I series loss. The England think-tank had already decided to drop Alex Hales despite the batsman averaging 88.2 at the venue to accommodate Ben Stokes. The decision became a lot easier after Hales injured his side and was rushed for scans. Stokes, however, failed to repay the faith bestowed on him with an uncharacteristic innings that pulled the team down even further.
England openers – Jonny Bairstow (38) and Jason Roy (38) – gave the team a solid start after they were put in. While India were exceptional in the first five overs, despite missing three chances, both Roy and Bairstow made up for a cautious start and stitched a 73-run stand inside the powerplay. But it became quite clear pretty early that walloping Ashton Agar to all parts of the venue on their way to 481 – the highest score in ODIs – wasn’t the best of preparation to face the India spinners.
Kuldeep drew first blood as he dismissed Roy in the 11th over. The England opener tried to reverse sweep the ball but was beaten in the air and could only manage to lob it to point. Joe Root, keen to prove a point after being dropped from the T20 side, looked clueless and troubled during his short stay before he was trapped in front trying to defend a Kuldeep stock delivery on the backfoot. Bairstow suffered the same fate as England’s Test captain after he failed to read the googly from the left-arm spinner. At 82 for 3, England were wobbling and in a lot of trouble on a good surface.
They were dented further soon after when Eoin Morgan chipped a Chahal delivery to midwicket in the 19th over. Jos Buttler walked in and immediately gave the innings the much-needed impetus even as Stokes continued to struggle from the other end. Make no mistake, the Indian spinners extracted just a hint of turn and that was enough to pose serious questions of the opposition.
Stokes and Buttler raised a half-century stand off 59 deliveries with the latter doing most of the damage. Buttler looked at ease and cantered to his half-century off 45 balls before eventually falling to Kuldeep. Trying to flick a delivery on the pads, he played a tad too fine allowing MS Dhoni to move to his left and complete a sharp catch.
Stokes kept grinding but failed to find a way to tackle the spin challenge. While he did dig in and held one end up, his slow strike rate meant the pressure continued to mount. As it turned out, Stokes’s efforts were futile as the final flourish he was looking for never arrived. He fell soon after getting to his half-century to give Kuldeep Yadav his five-wicket haul. David Willey, probably frustrated by how the batsmen had performed, became the sixth of Kuldeep’s victims. He ended with 10-0-25-6 – the fourth-best figures for an Indian in ODI cricket.
Brief scores: England 268 in 49.5 overs (Jos Buttler 53, Ben Stokes 50; Kuldeep Yadav 6-25) vs India.
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