England’s best bowling performance of World Cup restricts India to 229 for nine

By Sports Desk October 29, 2023

England produced their best bowling performance of the World Cup, restricting hosts India to 229 for nine in Lucknow.

Jos Buttler’s side headed into the match with nothing to lose, rock bottom in the standings after four defeats from five and with their semi-finals chances up in smoke, and finally put in a performance worthy of their reputation.

David Willey took three crucial wickets, including star man Virat Kohli for a nine-ball duck to silence a partisan 50,000 crowd, while Adil Rashid and Chris Woakes took two apiece.

India, who boast a 100 per cent record after five games, relied on captain Rohit Sharma’s 87 and will need to bowl well under lights to retain their unblemished streak.

After Buttler won the toss the day began with an intriguing skirmish between Willey and Sharma. The Englishman started the match with a maiden over, only for Sharma to blast two sixes and a four from his next visit.

Before the pair had the chance for a third round, Woakes landed a blow of his own that floored Shubman Gill. Attacking the stumps and finding a big slice of seam movement, he snaked the ball between bat and pad to get England on the board.

The crowd’s momentary disappointment was eased by the knowledge that Kohli was next up, with the stadium announcer hailing the arrival of ‘the King’ to deafening roars.

Yet his response was anything but regal, unable to get off strike as Willey ploughed away on an awkward length and waited for a mistake. It came sooner than he might have expected, with Kohli’s patience failing him.

Attempting to break the shackles with a smash down the ground, he got a poor connection and popped a gentle catch to a delighted Ben Stokes. Willey’s howl of celebration pierced the deathly quiet from the stands, which were filled with thousands of replica ‘Virat’ shirts, while the man himself was forced to vacate the stage.

England’s control in the powerplay was outstanding, with India failing to score off 47 of their 60 balls as they crawled to 35 for two. Woakes was backed to keep the pressure on and did just that, hurrying Shreyas Iyer with a short ball that sailed to mid-off via a top edge.

Rohit proved more durable, surviving a run out attempt from Stokes and overturning an lbw on 33 thanks to DRS. He exuded calm as he shepherded KL Rahul in a stand of 91, assuming almost full responsibility for building a total.

Rahul (39) clubbed the returning Willey straight to mid-on and Sharma’s spirited knock ended with a slog-sweep off Rashid. Liam Livingstone held on well in the deep, despite jarring his knee in the process.

India managed 49 for four in the last 10 overs, Suryakumar Yadav cut off in his prime on 49 as Willey landed the last of his three big scalps.

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