England were back to their old selves at Edgbaston on Sunday as they beat India to keep their World Cup hopes alive.
After back to back defeats against Sri Lanka and Australia, the hosts were teetering on the brink of oblivion going into the game against unbeaten India with anything other than victory ending their involvement in the tournament. But the return from a hamstring injury of Jason Roy was a boon that helped them rediscover their touch of recent seasons. The opener scored 66 as he and Jonny Bairstow put on 160 for the first wicket, and when Roy went Joe Root arrived to continue the rapid run-scoring.
England, who appeared on course for a mammoth total, stalled midway through their innings when the wicket of Bairstow, caught on the boundary after a superb 111, was followed by that of Eoin Morgan for just 1. But Root and the in-form Ben Ben Stokes steadied the ship and the latter smashed a quickfire 79 as England compiled the formidable score of 337-7.
India’s pursuit of what would have been the highest run chase in World Cup history got off to a disastrous start when KL Rahul was caught and bowled by Chris Woakes for 0, who, together with Liam Plunkett, was the pick of the England bowlers. But Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma then shared a partnership of 138 to give the vocal Indian supporters belief that history was in the making. But when Kohli went tamely for 66, India’s innings began to subside and despite Rohit’s 102, they fell 31 runs short of their target.
The victory means that if England beat New Zealand at Chester-le-Street on Wednesday then they will finish second or third in the group and will be drawn in the second semi-final, probably against India or Australia, at Edgbaston on 11 July. Should England lose to the Black Caps they will be eliminated if Pakistan then beat Bangladesh at Lord’s on Friday.
India require victory from one of their final two games against Bangladesh (tomorrow) and Sri Lanka (Saturday) to be certain of a place in the semi-final.
Reaction to England’s victory
Eoin Morgan: “We had an outstanding day right from the very beginning. We took on the spinners and that’s the way we want to play our cricket. Hopefully this kick starts it for us.”
Jonny Bairstow: “It came together today. The closest to a complete performance we have had. To win the toss and bat first it was important to set the platform.”
Michael Vaughan on BBC Sport: “It was a tremendous performance. They just looked different and they have given themselves a great chance of making the semi-finals. You could just tell when they were coming out this morning the swagger was coming back.”
Michael Atherton in The Times: “It was the kind of performance – confident, assertive, aggressive with the bat – that will have restored their dented confidence and reminded others why they were so feared a few weeks ago. Most of all it was a performance full of courage.”
Rob Key on Sky Sports: “Roy played an extraordinary knock. He has saved England’s campaign really. Those first couple of boundaries he hit, immediately things were better for England.”