India 269 for 2 (Rohit 137*, Kohli 75) beat England 268 (Buttler 53, Stokes 50, Kuldeep 6 for 25) by eight wickets
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This is fast turning into the summer of Kuldeep Yadav. As in his first T20I in the country, Kuldeep flummoxed the vaunted England batting in his first ODI in England, registering the fourth-best figures for India in ODIs - 6 for 25 - to keep the hosts down to 268 at a venue where the last two completed ODIs featured scores of 481 and 444. England's bowling, plain and lacking in guile, failed to make India sweat in pursuit of a target at least 40 short of what is required to stretch them on such flat tracks.
Rohit Sharma scored his 18th ODI century, and for a change Virat Kohli managed only 75, but the brightest shone Kuldeep. He repeated the dose of the T20I - removing two of England's Test mainstays, Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow, in the same over; Root with a traditional legbreak and Bairstow with the wrong'un. This was high-quality spin bowling, but the slide for England began in a moment of what now looks as rash bravado from Jason Roy.
England made an excellent start against India's second string of quicks - Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah were missing - and had forced India to resort to spin inside the Powerplay. Kuldeep came in to bowl with England at 71 for 0 in 10 overs. Roy coolly paddled the first ball fine for a couple. You immediately thought of the numbers this side has against wristspinners in ODIs since World Cup 2015: strike rate way better than others and average only under India's.
India moved the slip to leg slip for the second ball. You wondered if Roy had the audacity to go for a reverse hit immediately. If he was anxious to impose himself on Kuldeep after an assault on him in the second T20I had resulted in his exclusion from the third match. Roy went for the reverse, and almost fell over trying to adjust to the drift, and the top-edge settled with point. Another day, it comes off and you sit in awe, but was this the right day to do it so early, considering spin is India's big strength?
Whatever it was, floodgates were now open. In the 14th over of the first T20I, Eoin Morgan had done that by slogging Kuldeep against the turn. Here, Roy had left Root exposed to Kuldeep after the latter's first-ball duck in the T20I. Here, to the first ball of the 13th over, Root went back and was beaten on the inside edge by the orthodox legbreak by at least six inches. By some counts this was the third ball of left-arm wristspin Root had faced in official cricket for two comprehensive dismissals and a run.
Bairstow soon repeated his dismissal from Old Trafford: beaten on the outside edge by a wrong'un he didn't pick. Both the balls were accurate enough to be hitting the stumps; Kuldeep was so confident of that he talked Kohli into successfully reviewing the Bairstow not-out call. All of a sudden 73 for 0 had become 82 for 3, and you didn't know where the next run would come from.
Seeing two left-hand batsmen at the pitch, India even snuck in three overs from Suresh Raina, one of them a maiden. When Morgan found a way to score against Raina, it turned out he made things worse for himself. It brought back the other wristspinner, Yuzvendra Chahal, and with him Morgan's dismissal, caught at short midwicket. No. 6 Jos Buttler was in inside the 20th over, and a top-heavy unit now had to walk the tight rope of trying to bat out the overs without bringing their scoring down to a crawl. Add to it the struggles of Ben Stokes, who collected England's second-slowest hal-century since 2001.
It was only the phenomenal touch that Buttler is in that momentarily threatened India. The two added 93 for the fifth wicket. India went back to a lot of pace bowling between overs 30 and 40 so that they had enough spin available to run through the rest should there be an opening. England could sense that, and batted a little circumspectly against the quicks. In the end, Kuldeep did what he did in the Manchester T20I: take out Buttler after he had repaired the innings. This time, Buttler just tickled one down the leg side, having been kept away from the strike for 10 straight balls by a scratchy Stokes.
Stokes and David Willey completed Kuldeep's six, and despite some stick to Umesh Yadav towards the end, India had kept England down to a total well below par without using the services of Bumrah and Bhuvneshwar. Clearly, the side that has invested in bowling more than power-hitting on flat decks was calling the shots even on a flat deck. Not that the Indian batting was half hot. It was sizzling.
Coming off a T20 international century in the series decider, Rohit, who almost limped through the second half of his innings, made a mockery of the target by treating the bowling with the disdain befitting the pitch and the small boundaries. Shikhar Dhawan and Kohli were in excellent touch themselves, but they knew they had been trumped on the day by a ruthless innings that carried the trend of one of India's top three going big. That India finished the chase off with nearly 10 overs remaining was a clear sign England needed to score 320 or upwards to stay competitive in the series. And to do so, they needed to find a way past Kuldeep.