Stunning Stokes and brilliant Bairstow blast England to victory

By Sports Desk March 26, 2021

Ben Stokes' stunning innings and a century from Jonny Bairstow led England to a dominant six-wicket ODI victory over India in Pune on Friday.

While Bairstow was unquestionably impressive in compiling his 124, Stokes' 99 came at a blistering pace, requiring just 52 balls as he bludgeoned 10 sixes.

India had set England 337 to win and level the three-match series, with the tourists – deprived of the injured Eoin Morgan's services – wasting little time, getting the job done with 39 balls to spare.

Bairstow and Jason Roy put on 110 for the first wicket to lay the foundations, with the former then enjoying a front-row seat for the Stokes show as they combined for 175 runs.

It meant that, by the time Stokes and Bairstow fell in consecutive overs, England only required another 50 to seal the win, with Dawid Malan and Liam Livingstone finishing things off.

All the fireworks in England's innings eclipsed what had been a solid 50 overs from the hosts, for whom KL Rahul top-scored on 108, with Rishabh Pant providing eye-catching entertainment in the form of a 40-ball 77 to help India to 336-6.

Having put themselves in a strong position to chase down 318 in the first match before collapsing to 251 all out, England made sure they had an even firmer footing this time to ensure a late-innings wobble would not prove pivotal.

Bairstow's 18 boundaries included seven maximums, with Roy's 55 coming at roughly a run a ball to further cement England's excellent start.

Stokes, having survived an early run-out scare, escalated things drastically with a display of explosive hitting that had India chasing their tails.

Krunal Pandya, who enjoyed such a fine debut in the opening clash, came in for particularly harsh punishment as he posted figures of 0-72 off six overs, while Kuldeep Yadav (0-84 off 10) conceded eight sixes, including three in a row at the hands of Stokes in a punishing 33rd over.

England's procession was slowed but not halted by a flurry of wickets across the 36th and 37th overs, with Stokes agonisingly falling short of a deserved century before Bairstow and Jos Buttler also had to go.

But it only delayed the inevitable, Malan and Livingstone steadying the ship and getting England across the line to set up a series decider on Sunday.

 

STOKES CAPITALISES ON LET-OFF

There was a mightily close run-out call against Stokes in the 26th over, when he was on 33.

He soon accelerated his knock at break-neck speed, having brought up his 50 off 40 deliveries before adding another 49 from only 12.

Stokes' dismissal, caught behind by Pant off Bhuvneshwar Kumar, saw him denied the third-fastest century in ODIs for England.

SERIES SET FOR FINALE IT DESERVES

This was a mouthwatering series on paper, pitting the world's best two one-day teams against one another, and it has delivered on the field across the first two matches.

World champions England flexed their muscles on Friday, having been chastened by an opening loss in which India showed why they are so highly fancied.

A winner will be crowned this weekend and, having seen the best of both sides, how fitting it would be if they could each bring their 'A' game on Sunday.

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    For a long time, West Indies ODI skipper Shai Hope was looked at as a batsman who would struggle in the shortest form of the game because of what many described as an inability to score quickly.

    Over the last couple years, however, Hope has rubbished those sentiments thanks to some destructive batting performances in the CPL as well as in leagues around the world.

    His evolution as a T20 batsman was none more evident than during the West Indies’ game against the USA at the ICC T20 World Cup on Friday in his home country of Barbados.

    Looking to bounce back from a loss to England in their first game of the Super 8 on Wednesday, the joint hosts dismissed their American counterparts for 128 after losing the toss at the Kensington Oval.

    The West Indians then needed only 10.5 overs to reach 130-1, with Hope finishing 82* off just 39 balls. In a brilliant display of power hitting, Hope hit eight sixes and four fours on the way to his highest score in T20 Internationals.

    “Clinical,” was how Hope described the team’s performance on Friday in a post-match press conference.

    “Especially coming off the loss that we had a couple days ago. It's great to see the guys understood the assignment today and we played the cricket that we wanted to play. It's important for us to continue in this vein because we see what's at stake now. But yeah, very happy with the bounce back that we did today and there's a lot more cricket to play and we're looking forward to it,” he added.

    On his own individual performance, Hope was happy to perform in front of his home crowd.

    “Yeah, it was an amazing crowd. It's nice to see everyone came out and support us today. Something that we get in the Caribbean when we're doing well, we tend to see a lot more supporters out there. So that means we must be doing something right if you've got a solo crowd. But yeah, the crowd was rocking today,” he said.

    “I thought that the support was amazing. Again, I'm from Barbados so playing in front of this lovely crowd meant a lot more to me. Scoring some runs and winning the game for the team felt even more special so I'm very happy to do that,” Hope added.

    At the start of the tournament, Hope was on the outside of the XI looking in. He missed the first three games before coming into the side ahead of Roston Chase in the third game against Afghanistan where he 25 batting at number four.

    The 30-year-old was then left out once again for the Super 8 opener against England. A side strain suffered by Brandon King during that game meant Hope was given an opportunity at the top of the order against the USA, an opportunity that he grabbed with both hands.

    “Yeah, it's a great feeling. Again, whatever the team requires, that's me. Unfortunately, King had to leave us. Hopefully, he recovers quickly. But yeah, I had to go at the top this time around and the aim was just to get off to a good start. You see the importance of finishing the game early as well. So yeah, I had a good time in the middle, good surface and I enjoyed batting tonight,” he said.

    “Just have to stay ready in a tournament like this. There's a reason why we have 15 players. All of them need to be ready whenever the time comes,” he added.

    Finally, Hope issued a plea to the fans of the West Indies to continue supporting them on their journey to a third ICC T20 World Cup title.

    “Keep rallying. That's our motto. We always talk about rallying around the West Indies. That's exactly what we need to keep doing. The team rallying around each other. The fans need to do the same. We're out there fighting for each and every one of us. So, you understand the importance and the magnitude of the tournament. We're playing a home World Cup, something that I'm sure a lot of cricketers over their careers may not get the opportunity to do. We understand the importance of this in particular and we know how much the fans really want us to win so we're fighting, we're doing it for them and it's great to see the support I hope that it continues for the rest of the tournament,” he said.

    The West Indies will take on South Africa in their last Super 8 match on Sunday in Antigua.

  • Hope on fire as West Indies thrash fellow T20 World Cup hosts USA Hope on fire as West Indies thrash fellow T20 World Cup hosts USA

    West Indies hammered their fellow T20 World Cup hosts the United States by nine wickets to put themselves in the driving seat for a semi-final spot.

    Having lost their opening Super 8s match to England, the Windies bounced back in style in Barbados on Friday.

    Shai Hope's unbeaten 82, which came from 39 balls and included eight sixes, three of which came on the bounce, saw West Indies surpass the target of just 129 within 11 overs.

    Hope was recalled to the team after an injury to Brandon King, but will be a tough drop for Rovman Powell now.

    The USA had made a promising start, but slipped from 51-1 to 65-4 in the space of three overs, with Andre Russell the pick of the Windies' bowlers (3-31).

    They were skittled out for 128, with Hope, Johnson Charles (15) and Nicholas Pooran (27 not out) wasting little time in securing a margin of victory that sends West Indies above England in Group 2, while their net run rate is also superior to South Africa's.

    The Proteas are West Indies' final opponents, while defending champions England face the USA in their last Super 8s match.

    Data Debrief: Windies in fine fettle

    West Indies have now won nine of their 11 T20Is in 2024, after winning eight games in each of 2022 and 2023.

    Their tally of victories this year matches 2021 as their best effort in a single calendar year.

    They have also won five of their last seven T20Is at Kensington Oval, and their last three in a row.

  • 'It is our destiny to win this World Cup': Chase says win over United States a testament of Windies intent to go all the way 'It is our destiny to win this World Cup': Chase says win over United States a testament of Windies intent to go all the way

    West Indies all-rounder Roston Chase believes it is his country's destiny to win the T20 World Cup following their nine-wicket victory over fellow co-hosts the United States.

    The 32-year-old took 3-19 as the USA were bowled out for 128, with Shai Hope hitting an unbeaten 82 from 39 balls as the Windies leapfrogged England in the race for the semi-finals. 

    "It is our destiny and our goal to win this World Cup," Chase said after the victory. "We want teams to know they have to beat us to win this World Cup."

    Rovman Powell's side equalled the record for the West Indies' most wins in a single calendar year (W9 in 2021) in T20Is, and face South Africa in Antigua next Monday. 

    The triumph continued their impressive T20 record at the Kensington Oval in Bridgetown, and they have now won five of their previous seven T20Is at the venue. 

    The last and only previous time they won more consecutive games in Barbados was a four-game streak from May 2010 to March 2014, which has got the West Indies believing they can claim a third title. 

    "It's very special," captain Powell said. "Kensington brings special memories for us. We had no better opportunity to come out and play some good cricket."

    The USA still holds on to the hopes of qualifying for the competition's semi-finals but knows their hopes of progression lie elsewhere. 

    Having lost their opening Super 8 fixture to South Africa, they will be hoping the Proteas can do them a favour in defeating the West Indies but would need a comprehensive victory of their own against current champions England. 

    "We lost wickets in clusters," captain Aaron Jones said. "I don't think we ever truly recovered from that. It was bad in the middle.

    "We'll go back to the drawing board and come back hard against England on Sunday."

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