Cricket World Cup 2019: England 'were pretty good with bat, ball, and in the field' to defeat India and keep semi-final hopes alive

Jonny Bairstow thrilled to score hundred that ensured Eoin Morgan-led tournament hosts won by 31 runs at Edgbaston

England fast bowler Liam Plunkett, second left, celebrates the dismissal of India captain Virat Kohli at Edgbaston on Sunday. Aijaz Rahi / AP Photo
England fast bowler Liam Plunkett, second left, celebrates the dismissal of India captain Virat Kohli at Edgbaston on Sunday. Aijaz Rahi / AP Photo

So it turns out England are not so pathetic after all. And that Jonny Bairstow can play a bit, too.

Whether the England opener picked a fight with Michael Vaughan, the English cricket media, or any other perceived adversary this week just to psyche himself up for the task ahead, or because he really did feel genuinely wronged, it did the trick.

The Yorkshireman scored a belligerent century to pave the way for a 31-run victory over India at Edgbaston, which got England’s World Cup campaign back on track.

The win meant they leapfrogged back above Pakistan and into fourth in the points table.

It means that if they beat New Zealand in their final pool match in Durham this week, they are guaranteed a place in the semi-finals.

“It has been frustrating a little bit for the guys, as we know how well we can play, but today we were pretty good with bat, ball, and in the field,” Bairstow said after receiving the match award.

“There are still things we can improve on going forward to New Zealand next week. It was the closest we have had to a complete performance in the competition.

“We know now we have three must-win games in the next few weeks.”

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Between scoring 111 in 109 balls, and charging around the outfield with all the athleticism of a Kenyan distance runner, Bairstow covered the best part of 18 kilometres.

It was almost as if he had a point to prove. Bairstow attracted headlines earlier in the week when he said it felt like people in the UK did not want England to win their home World Cup.

According to a variety of testimonies by England players in the aftermath of Bairstow’s rant – which met with the appraisal of “pathetic” by former England captain Vaughan – he must have been living in his own world if he was not feeling the goodwill from the general public.

Or maybe he just arrived at Edgbaston early. This is supposed to be a home tournament for England, but their supporters were heavily outnumbered in this fixture. As is always the case when India play, of course.

It proved to be a weird day for those who are said to “bleed blue”. Not least because their heroes were playing in luminous orange.

Then because their side tasted defeat for the first time in the tournament. And, most peculiarly, because of a go-slow by MS Dhoni at the end of the innings, when his side really needed a go-very-fast.

He hit the first six of his side’s innings in the 50th over of it. By that point, the game was long since over as a contest. By contrast, England hit 13 sixes between them, of which Bairstow managed six on his own.

England amassed an imposing total of 337-7, built on a sparkling opening partnership worth 160 between Bairstow and Jason Roy, who made 66, and a late-overs dash worth 79 by Ben Stokes.

India’s start was tough, as Chris Woakes sent down three consecutive maiden overs, but Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma were able to build a platform.

The two superstars put on 138 for the second wicket, before Kohli carved a cut to James Vince, the fielder substituting for Roy, who was off nursing an injury to his right forearm.

It was Kohli’s fifth half-century in a row in the tournament. Yet he has failed to convert any to three figures.

Once he went, Rohit maintained the fight, and brought up his third century of the tournament, but his demise left the task up to Hardik Pandya and Dhoni.

Although they each made it into the 40s, at healthy run-rates by normal standards, but not nearly enough given the situation they had been left in.

Updated: June 30, 2019 11:21 PM

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