England bowed out of the World Cup and ushered in the end of an era as their old stagers mustered one last victory over Pakistan.

The defending champions of 2019 were making their final stand in India, their timid departure from the tournament long confirmed and the break-up of a decorated team already in motion, but managed to sign off with a 93-run win at Kolkata’s Eden Gardens.

David Willey is the only member of the current squad to have formally announced his retirement – a direct consequence of being the only one without a central contract – but this is an old group, past its prime in the 50-over format and ripe for renewal.

That process will start on Sunday morning, when squads are announced for next month’s white-ball tour of the West Indies, but there was a final opportunity for this band of thirtysomething trailblazers to get over the line together and guarantee a spot in the 2025 Champions Trophy.

Ben Stokes took a familiar leading role in proceedings, following up his century against the Netherlands by top-scoring with 84 – a coincidental mirror image of his score in the World Cup final four years ago – with Joe Root making 60 in a final score 337 for nine.

Pakistan were 244 all out in reply, Willey writing his own farewell as figures of three for 56 left him with exactly 100 ODI wickets. The finishing touch was applied by Chris Woakes, who made Haris Rauf his 31st victim at World Cups, breaking Sir Ian Botham’s English record.

Stokes and Root have been standard bearers for this generation and they took the chance to put on 132 in what will probably be their last partnership together outside of Test cricket.

Returning to the scene of his personal heartbreak in 2016, when Carlos Brathwaite hit him for four consecutive sixes to snatch the T20 World Cup from England’s grasp, Stokes managed to bank a few good memories of his own at the famous old ground.

After being handed a life on 10, when Shaheen Afridi spilled a return catch, he reeled off 11 boundaries and two maximums of his own. One was reminiscent of the Brathwaite assault, clubbed over long-on, but the other was a work of even greater skill and imagination.

Switching his hands against Agha Salman, he slogged a reverse-lap all the way over the ropes at deep third and tumbled the floor as he followed through.

Root’s innings was a more workmanlike affair, but after a six-game lean streak he made sure to get a score on the board. His first 58 deliveries contained only one boundary – off a wayward full toss – but he kept Stokes company and caught up a little as he went on.

In the process he became the first England batter to pass 1,000 runs in World Cup cricket and levelled former captain Eoin Morgan’s record of 55 half-centuries.

Shaheen returned to dismiss both of them before further damage was done, Stokes losing his off stump to a yorker and Root miscuing a slower ball.

Earlier, England had enjoyed their most productive powerplay of the tournament as Dawid Malan and Jonny Bairstow piled on 72 without loss. Malan’s 31 took his tally for the tournament to 404 – a hundred clear of his nearest challenger – and Bairstow’s 59 was his best of the trip. But amid the clamour for change it is hard to see either man with a long-term role in the ODI setup.

Change is coming and neither 36-year-old Malan nor 34-year-old Bairstow, with a Test career to serve and a major leg break in his recent past, may be able to resist.

The last 10 overs there were suitably chaotic, with 97 runs scored, seven wickets falling and five sixes peppering the stands. Jos Buttler (27 in 18 balls), Harry Brook (30 in 17) and Willey (15 off five) were among those to play their part.

Pakistan had arrived with a tiny chance of reaching the semi-finals but needed to bat first to keep it even faintly realistic. By the time they began their chase all hope had gone.

But there was still time for Willey, who has enjoyed an unlikely lap of honour since announcing his retirement in the midst of England’s losing streak, to produce on his last turn with the new ball.

He had Abdullah Shafique lbw with an inswinger in his first over and the dangerous power-hitter Fakhar Zaman caught on the charge in his second.

Pakistan’s most reliable duo held things up with a 51-run stand but Babar Azam dragged a Gus Atkinson bouncer straight to short midwicket and Mohammed Rizwan was clean bowled by sharp turn from Moeen Ali.

That was the first of four successive wickets to spin as Moeen and Adil Rashid played tricks on a wearing pitch. Willey and Woakes were both able to celebrate their landmarks as England secured seventh in the table, Stokes settling underneath the match-winning catch.

Ben Stokes blasted 108 as England posted 339 for nine to take control of their bottom-of-the-table World Cup clash against the Netherlands in Pune.

With their semi-final chances a distant memory, both sides still had plenty to play for, with a place at the 2025 Champions Trophy the prize for a top-eight finish, and England had Stokes to thank for their putting them in the box seat.

At 192 for six they were making life extremely difficult for themselves, but Stokes raced through the gears to do the hard work his side so badly needed.

Having ground out a hard-working fifty in 58 deliveries, he exploded into life and took just 20 more to reach his fifth ODI century in a display of power-hitting that helped bring 114 runs in the last 10 overs.

Despite not hitting any boundaries as he dug in between the 29th and the 43rd, he finished with six sixes and six fours before holing out with two balls left.

Coming off the back of five demoralising defeats in a row, Stokes produced a show of skill and character that reinforced his status as his team’s “spiritual leader” – a title first uttered by under-pressure head coach Matthew Mott during his spell on the injured list at the start of the tournament.

Former England seamer Steve Harmison, Stokes’ close friend and former Durham team-mate, called on England to send the 32-year-old home ahead of this match to accelerate his forthcoming knee surgery, but it is hard to see who could have provided the impetus had they done so.

Chris Woakes provided good support as he made 51 in a seventh-wicket of stand of 129 with Stokes, while Dawid Malan (87) was on course for a ton of his own until a silly run out cost him.

England had bossed the opening exchanges, Malan pounding out 10 boundaries in a 36-ball fifty in the powerplay, and even papered over Jonny Bairstow’s sloppy dismissal for 15 via a top edge.

The score was 133 for one when Joe Root attempted, for the second time, one of his trademark reverse scoops over the wicketkeeper. The first one had raced away for four, but this time he got his timings all wrong and was clean bowled through his own legs without even committing a full swing of the bat.

Root has struggled for runs for much of the last month, but falling to a Logan van Beek nutmeg was a new one on his bingo card.

Malan, who had driven expertly and swept two big sixes off Roelof van der Merwe, then fell on his sword in the very next over.

Setting off for a single despite tapping straight to cover, he was sent back by Stokes and caught an inch out of his ground by some smart work in the field.

Suddenly England looked vulnerable again, with the recalled Harry Brook (11) pulling Bas de Leede tamely into the leg-side to fluff his opportunity back in the XI.

Jos Buttler and Moeen Ali followed for single figures, the off-form skipper picking out mid-off and his deputy arcing the softest possible catch to long-off.

Stokes grafted hard to keep the innings alive, getting his eye in before finally indulging himself at the back end.

Aryan Dutt’s last over went for 24, De Leede’s final two shipped 34 and Paul van Meekeren delivered a steady stream of wides as the pressure told.

Stokes reached his hundred with a reverse sweep and finally departed in the closing moments looking for one last blow.

Jonny Bairstow is relishing his role in a rare World Cup double as England and South Africa prepare for high-stakes battles on the cricket pitch and the rugby field within a matter of hours on Saturday.

Bairstow will be leading from the front in Mumbai, where his side look to put their creaking title defence back on track against the Proteas, before attention turns to events almost 4,500 miles away in Paris and the Rugby World Cup semi-final between England and the Springboks.

Bairstow is a huge rugby fan and was even invited to address the England squad ahead of last year’s autumn international against Argentina at Twickenham, chatting to the squad for over an hour before observing training.

Now he hopes to set the tone for a day of English celebrations by the time Steve Borthwick’s men kick off.

“I think it’s going to be a great spectacle, it’s going to be a great day for both nations,” he said.

“They’re two extremely proud nations, whether that’s on the rugby front or the cricketing front, two teams on both sides that are very passionate about playing for their countries and are excited about playing for their countries.

“You’ll have people in South Africa, I’m sure, having a few brandy and Cokes and a couple of braais (barbecues), and you’ll have a few in England popping down the pub and watching – any excuse for them to just pop down there!

“It will be great – and hopefully both results go our way.”

 

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Bairstow can only directly impact one of them, of course, and the importance of his role at the top of the batting order is shaping up to be a key one.

Defeats to New Zealand and Afghanistan, either side of victory over Bangladesh, have put England firmly on the back foot and cranked up the stakes on their visit to the Wankhede Stadium.

Head coach Matthew Mott has called for more aggression in the first 15 overs of both innings and Bairstow has the track record and firepower to oblige.

But he is clear that swinging blindly for the fences is not on the cards, with conditions in India calling for more nuance.

“I don’t see anyone else in the world going out and scoring at nine runs an over. You look at India, they don’t go out and just go balls to the wall in the first 10 and they’re the host nation,” he said.

“They don’t just go out and go from ball one. So the importance of the first 10 is to yes score quickly, but also score in a way that’s sustainable over a long period of time, because we’re not playing a T20 game, we’re playing a 50-over game.

“Playing cricket in India compared to playing cricket in England is different. There’s different styles that work all around the world. I don’t think there’s one thing that fits all.”

While England are licking their wounds after being upset by the Afghans, South Africa are nursing a similar blow to their pride after defeat the Netherlands. That has added another layer of intrigue to the clash as both sets of players desperately try to reset the narrative.

“We know it’s a big game, we know they’re a strong nation and they’ve been playing well, but we also know now they’re coming off a loss as well,” Bairstow said.

“That was a great result to wake up to. But we’re actually just focusing on ourselves. That’s what we do.

“The confidence is there – it’s unwavering. There’s no lack of belief within this group. It isn’t something that’s been questioned one bit.”

Reece Topley insisted he was just getting started on his “unfinished business” in World Cup cricket after blowing Bangladesh away with four wickets in Dharamshala.

Topley claimed four for 43 as England coasted to victory against the Tigers, making a big impression after being recalled to the side following defeat to New Zealand.

It was a welcome day in the sun for a 29-year-old who has had to endure more than his fair share of dark times due to a litany of injury problems that could easily have ended his career.

Five different stress fractures in his back left him sidelined for long periods and denied him the chance to push for a place in the triumphant 2019 campaign, while his luck got even worse on the eve of last year’s T20 tournament in Australia.

 

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The 6ft 7in left-armer had been lined up to play a key role with the ball, only to trip on a boundary sponge during a fielding drill and rupture ligaments in his left ankle. When England went on to lift the trophy at a packed MCG, it was hard for him not to imagine his own hands on the silverware.

Now he has a real chance to control his own story. With his body holding up well and his game in good order, things are finally falling into place.

“When I came out here I certainly felt like there was some sort of unfinished business with World Cups,” he said.

“Last year it was certainly an opportunity missed, I was bowling really well in the lead-up and then sort of had the rug pulled out from under my feet.

“The last-minute injury was very disappointing, but I’ve been wrapped up in cotton wool this time and it’s nice to be here. Hopefully there are more contributions because I don’t feel like I’ve sort of scratched the surface with World Cups.

“Obviously being injured and not being able to do what you are good at, what you love, is awful. Watching others take your wickets or score your runs is another horrible thing.

“But you have to ask yourself what are the choices? Do you sit around and feel sorry for yourself or do you just have to crack on and get yourself back to full fitness?”

England’s circuitous route around India sees them playing in eight different cities across nine group games – with Ahmedabad and Dharamashala already in the rearview and Delhi up next for Sunday’s game against Afghanistan.

The constant cycle of internal flights and coach transfers means rotation has been discussed, especially among the fast bowling department, but Topley has already missed enough games for a lifetime and has no desire to sit out.

He described his omission in favour of spinner Moeen Ali against New Zealand as a “take your medicine” situation, but is willing to be a workhorse if required as the competition unfolds.

“There’s a lot of chat about the schedule. To be honest, it’s one game every five days, it seems,” he said.

“I mean, county cricketers do much worse. If we play for Surrey, we’d be more tired. It’s not really an excuse for us. Sevens games is 70 overs maximum.

“In our changing room, we’ve all played county cricket, which can be quite a torrid time. You have to play a lot more regularly than this seven weeks, so I think everyone in our team can handle it pretty well.”

Dawid Malan vowed to “keep silencing people” after his century helped England get back to winning ways at the World Cup with a convincing display against Bangladesh.

Now 36, Malan has had to scrap hard for every opportunity he has had in international cricket and only inked his name into the World Cup side a matter of days before jetting out to India.

As recently as last month he was viewed as a versatile reserve batter for the tournament rather than a starter, but Jason Roy’s untimely battle with back spasms and Malan’s own player-of-the-series showing against New Zealand finally saw him nail down a spot at opener.

A false start in the tournament curtain-raiser against New Zealand put the pressure on England as defending champions, but for someone who has felt his credentials being placed under the microscope regularly Malan was well placed to stand up and be counted in Dharamshala.

He put on 115 with Jonny Bairstow (52) and 151 with Joe Root (82) on his way to 140 from 107 deliveries, three more than the final winning margin as the Tigers failed to live with a target of 365.

It was his sixth hundred in just 23 ODI appearances – the same number Sir Andrew Strauss managed in 127 caps and the explosive Alex Hales in 70 – but he still feels motivated by the struggles he has faced to find a place with England.

“I’m just hungry, hungry to play, to play well, hungry to score runs and win games of cricket,” he said.

“I’ve wanted to be part of this team for so long and it’s been impossible to break into with players that have been so good. I’m desperate to do well in this format and prove a point that I deserve to be in there.

“I feel like every series I’m under pressure. For me to keep silencing people is all I can do. If I can score as many runs as I can and help contribute to wins hopefully eventually people’s opinions might change.

“To be able to score a hundred and say that I’ve been able to score a hundred in a World Cup game for England is fantastic.”

Malan is, in many ways, an unlikely magnet for critics given his outstanding 50-over record. He boasts an average of 63.15 and a strike rate of 98.44, with exactly 1,200 runs on the board, but he is all too aware of those who remain sceptical about his ability to accelerate.

“There’s been a lot of strange narratives around over the last couple of years,” he said.

“But the majority of my cricket for England has been T20 cricket and I’ve always said, I can play it like a T20 game if you want me to. Just ask me to do what you need me to do and I’ll do it.”

Ahead of the game England had expressed concerns over the state of the outfield at the HPCA Stadium, with the loose, sandy soil composition making for uncertain conditions underfoot.

But the scale of their victory meant they were not forced to take any undue risks in the field and were able to bank the points without any scares.

“It was pretty bad. We’re pretty happy to get through that game without any injuries – both teams, I think,” said all-rounder Sam Curran.

“We don’t have to come back here. But hopefully the outfield does get better: it’s not very nice, what’s happened to it. But I thought the wicket was really good.

“Luckily, there weren’t too many balls we had to sprint after, we’re just pretty happy that no-one’s injured coming into the next game.”

An outstanding century from Dawid Malan and Reece Topley’s eye-catching return put England’s World Cup defence back on track as they hammered Bangladesh by 137 runs in Dharamshala.

The 2019 champions were bruised by a thumping loss to New Zealand in the tournament opener but banked a handsome win of their own to cap their visit to the outer ranges of the Himalayas.

Malan was the architect, rolling out a career-best 140 in 107 balls as he carried England to 364 for nine with a fourth century in his last nine innings.

At one stage they would have backed themselves to post 400, but a flurry of wickets at the back end kept them to a less flashy figure.

It was still their biggest World Cup total on foreign soil and easily enough to get the job done against outmatched opponents who were railroaded by Topley on his recall to the starting XI.

England bolstered their pace attack by swapping out spin-bowling all-rounder Moeen Ali for the 6ft 7in left-armer and it proved an inspired decision as Topley blew away the Bangladesh top order and finished with four for 43.

He took two in two balls in his opening over, clean bowled captain Shakib Al Hasan with a wonderful ball and circled back for the battling Mushfiqur Rahim.

He was the pick of the pack throughout and will take some budging from the teamsheet now.

Bangladesh lost their way entirely with the bat, ambling aimlessly to 227 all out and helping repair much of the previous damage to England’s net run-rate.

Malan was only inked into the starting XI last month, embarking on a compelling run of late summer form just as the selectors were losing faith in the form and fitness of Jason Roy.

A lethargic start against the Black Caps in Ahmedabad did not show him at his best, but the 36-year-old removed any doubt about his readiness with a wonderfully-paced knock.

His first 50 runs came in a hurry, taking just 39 balls, and, after taking 52 more to convert his half-century, he showed off some extra gears by slamming 40 off his last 16 deliveries.

Malan’s ambitious streak was evident from the outset, with two glorious sixes off Mustafizur Rahman the highlight of England’s 61-run powerplay.

The first saw him stoop low enough to engineer a slog-sweep over deep square, a shot requiring equal parts bravery and timing, and the second saw him stand tall and pull hard.

When Bangladesh retreated to spin he took a different method, rarely allowing himself to go aerial, threading his shots into gaps and pulling out a reverse sweep against the steadying hand of Shakib.

He took the lion’s share of a 115-run partnership with Jonny Bairstow (52), who had earlier joined England’s 100-cap club after a presentation from former captain Eoin Morgan and was looking solid until Shakib snuck one into his leg stump.

Malan also outscored Joe Root in the decisive third-wicket stand of 151 that kept England ticking for almost 20 overs.

Root, who emerged alone in credit against the Black Caps thanks to a well-made 77, was calm and controlled again, cutting loose only briefly to reverse ramp Mustafizur for six.

In reaching 82 he moved past Graham Gooch as England’s leading run-scorer in World Cup cricket, easing past his mark of 897.

When Malan departed in the 38th over, after unloading a torrent against Mehedi Hasan, he had left the power-hitters in the middle order a perfect platform of 266 for two.

To score 98 more for the loss of seven wickets was an underachievement, down in no small part to Sofiul Islam, who removed Jos Buttler, Root and Liam Livingstone in the space of nine deliveries.

Despite that, they already had more than enough, with Topley’s new ball showing settling the issue.

Having watched from the sidelines as England took a single wicket last time out, he doubled that tally in his first over.

His fourth delivery swung enough to take Tanzid Hasan’s outside edge and carried to second slip and his second left Najmul Shanto as he sprayed to backward point.

Shakib survived despite misreading the hat-trick ball but was soon undone by something even better, beaten on the outside edge by one that held its line and clipped the top of off.

When Chris Woakes nicked off Mehidy Hasan Miraz it was hard to see a way back from 49 for four and they never really attempted to tackle the spiralling required rate.

Liton Das (76) and Mushfiqur (51) made England work before Woakes and Topley returned to add to their hauls, but the sense of any danger had long disappeared.

Livingstone countered his first-ball dismissal with the bat by producing a first-ball wicket of his own and Adil Rashid opened his account in his 16th over of the tournament.

Bangladesh’s passivity saw them survive almost until the end, but Mark Wood and Sam Curran hit the stumps late on to wrap things up.

Dawid Malan’s superb century did the hard work for England as they racked up 364 for nine against Bangladesh in Dharamshala, a game they hope can kickstart their World Cup defence after a sticky start.

Malan reeled off a perfectly paced 140 in 107 balls at the top of the order, a career-best knock from a man who only inked his name in the first-choice XI a matter of days before the squad was finalised, to give his side their highest ever World Cup total away from home.

The 36-year-old, frequently an afterthought in England’s white-ball revolution but now a leading man in his own right, shared stands of 115 and 151 with Jonny Bairstow (52) and Joe Root (82) as the reigning champions recovered some of their swagger following a nine-wicket thrashing by New Zealand in the tournament opener.

At one stage, with a power-packed middle order queuing up in the dugout, they looked ready to shoot for 400 but their over-exuberance allowed Bangladesh to find a way back in the closing stages.

England lost five for 27 at one stage, but still walked away with a new record total at the HPCA Stadium, with Malan overtaking Indian superstar Virat Kohli’s 127 as the biggest individual score at the ground.

He paced his run perfectly, scoring his first fifty off 39 balls in the powerplay, taking 53 more to convert his half-century and then smashing 40 off his last 16 as he cut loose. With 16 fours and five sixes, it was an eloquent response to critics who worry about his ability as an aggressor.

For Bairstow there was a fifty to mark his 100th ODI cap, handed over in person by his former captain Eoin Morgan in the team huddle, while Root made his second telling contribution in as many games.

He was alone in emerging in credit from the thrashing in Ahmedabad, making a measured 77, and here moved past Graham Gooch’s mark of 897 runs in World Cup cricket.

England are on alert due to concerns over the state of the ground in Dharmashala, where they hope to kickstart their World Cup campaign against Bangladesh on Tuesday.

Worries are mounting over the suitability of the picturesque HPCA Stadium, which sits on the edge of the Himalayas, thanks to a loose, sandy outfield that represents a potential safety risk to players.

The venue hosted its first game of the the tournament on Saturday, with Afghanistan’s Mujeeb Ur Rahman fortunate to escape unscathed after his knee jarred in the turf as he slid to prevent a boundary.

Former England batter Jonathan Trott, now head coach of Afghanistan, said after the match that players were “unsure” of their footing and that Mujeeb had been lucky to avoid serious injury.

It is understood Trott has been in touch with friends in the England camp to share his thoughts in more detail and they received a close-up look of their own during a training session on Sunday.

The International Cricket Council’s pitch consultant Andy Atkinson and head of events Chris Tetley were also in attendance, seen in conversation with the head groundsman as they assessed conditions.

An ICC spokesperson told the PA news agency: “The process for assessing the condition of the pitch and outfield lies with the match officials under the ICC pitch and outfield monitoring process and the outfield at Dharamshala was rated as average after the Afghanistan v Bangladesh match.

“Additionally, the ICC independent pitch consultant has taken a look at the outfield today and is comfortable with the conditions as is Javagal Srinath, the match referee for the next game.”

There are three ratings below the ‘average’ grade the ground received: below average, poor and unfit.

Jonny Bairstow made it clear England were aware of the situation and suggested they may need to exert some caution in the field to avoid trouble.

“There’s been a lot of chat about it hasn’t there? Touch wood we don’t have any major incidents,” he said.

“The last thing you want is two guys going off with knee injuries or something. It can contribute to shoulders as well, if you’re diving and your elbows get stuck in the ground. But it’s like the pitch being different one venue to another, you’ve just got to adapt to it.

“When you’re out there fielding with spikes on it will naturally become clear what you can and can’t do. It might just be a case of boxing a bit clever with how you go about it.

“People need to make sure you do everything possible to make sure those areas – calves, Achilles – are loose and are able to cope with the stresses of a sand-based outfield.

“But I think it’s one of those where it will be very difficult to hold someone back if they see a ball and they try to stop it – it’s a natural reaction to go for it.”

The uncertainty underfoot makes it virtually inconceivable that Ben Stokes will be risked. He missed England’s heavy defeat by New Zealand with a left hip problem and is being assessed on a day-by-day basis.

He returned to the nets for the first time in 10 days, batting against throw downs and sidearms from fielding coach Carl Hopkinson for around half-an-hour but looked in discomfort at times. He later emerged for some light running drills, jogging gently for another five minutes, but appeared some way from match readiness.

For Bairstow, the game against Bangladesh will mark his 100th ODI appearance. The 34-year-old will become the sixth member of the squad to reach that landmark, joining Jos Buttler, Joe Root, Adil Rashid, Moeen Ali and Chris Woakes, bringing up his century 12 years after an eye-catching debut in Cardiff.

“I’m very proud to play 100 games. Since I made my debut in 2011 there’s been a few ups and downs hasn’t there? But to reach that milestone and join that club is a huge achievement,” he said.

“To be playing my 100th game in India at a World Cup, having won it in 2019 and played a decent part in that, the journey this white-ball team have been on is something I’m immensely proud of.”

England may look to add an extra seamer to the XI that was defeated in Ahmedabad, with left-armer Reece Topley pushing for inclusion as a possible alternate for spin-bowling all-rounder Moeen Ali.

Liam Livingstone unleashed a six-hitting spree the last time he visited the Himalayan city of Dharamshala and believes it could be the perfect place for England to put their World Cup campaign back on track.

The reigning champions had a stuttering start to their title defence, thrashed by nine wickets after a timid performance in the curtain-raiser against New Zealand, and will be eyeing a much-improved performance against Bangladesh on Tuesday.

The game takes place at the picturesque HPCA Stadium, framed against the backdrop of the Dhauladhar mountain range and sitting 1,500 metres above sea level.

The altitude provides a boost for big-hitting batters, with the ball travelling further in the thinner air, and Livingstone had a chance to test the theory in the IPL earlier this year. He smashed 94 in just 48 balls for Punjab Kings, launching nine sixes along the way.

And, after labouring to an under-par 282 against the Black Caps in their opener, there could not be a better venue for England to rediscover their power-hitting mojo.

“It’s an incredible ground and an incredible place to bat if it’s anything like it was that day,” said Livingstone.

“Conditions here should suit us and the boys are really excited. We want to get over what happened the other day and almost go twice as hard. We want to put on a really good show and get things kickstarted in this tournament.

“Because of the altitude the ball just flies really well here. You can feel it, it makes you more confident to take on the boundaries.

“They aren’t that big anyway and the altitude just makes it better with the power we’ve got in our line-up. It certainly helps as a batter, standing there knowing you can take the fielders on.

“It’s the kind of place you can really set up the back end of the innings and score highly. Personally, I’ve got good memories here and hopefully I can repeat it.”

Despite the remote nature of Dharamshala, an area better known for its proximity to the Dalai Lama’s residence just 10km away in McLeod Ganj, Livingstone is not the only squad member to have played here.

Sam Curran and Jos Buttler have also passed through on IPL duty, while Buttler, Joe Root and Chris Woakes all played in England’s first ever international at the venue in 2013.

England beat India on that occasion, taking seven wickets with fast bowlers, and they are likely to be tempted by an extra seamer this time.

Left-armer Reece Topley was unlucky to miss out against New Zealand and heads the queue to come in, while Gus Atkinson and David Willey also stand by with Moeen Ali’s spot vulnerable.

“It’s a good pitch, with good pace and carry and it can nip around,” Livingstone said.

“It’s probably as English a pitch as there is out here and will probably suit us more than many grounds around the country. Hopefully that can play in our favour.”

The one change England would most like to make, bringing Ben Stokes back in to bolster their middle order, is unlikely to happen as he continues to struggle with a hip problem.

Without him the onus will fall on others to fashion a fitting response to their loss in Ahmedabad and Livingstone insists they are ready to oblige.

He was part of the team that lost to Ireland in the group stages of last year’s T20 World Cup and went on to lift the trophy and is unfazed a single setback.

“There’s no point looking back and regretting. We could have lost by one run or the way we did, either way, we move on,” he said.

“One game doesn’t define a tournament and if you’re going to lose a game like that you’d probably rather it was the first one.

“You can lose games and win a World Cup, we’ve shown that before. The one thing this group does well when we’ve lost a game of cricket is double down on our aggressive approach and we’ve got a chance to do that on Tuesday.”

England’s World Cup defence began with a punishing nine-wicket defeat in Ahmedabad as New Zealand helped themselves to a slice of revenge four years in the making.

Organisers scheduled a repeat of the 2019 final to kick off this year’s tournament, but rather than a nail-biter to match the tension of that Lord’s classic, they had to settle for a thoroughly one-sided affair.

England needed a super over and a boundary countback to get their hands on the trophy last time around, but two majestic hundreds from Devon Conway and Rachin Ravindra meant the Black Caps romped home in the rerun with almost 14 overs to spare.

Conway finished 152 not out while his Wellington team-mate Ravindra reeled off an unbeaten 123 – more than double his previous ODI best.

The absence of Ben Stokes with a hip injury robbed the reigning champions of some middle-order firepower but their score of 282 for nine was nowhere near enough to constrain an outstanding Kiwi chase.

Where England relied on a composed innings of 77 from Joe Root, who managed four boundaries and a six while a series of unforced errors unfolded around him, Conway and Ravindra cut loose under lights.

Empty seats in the 134,000-capacity Narendra Modi Stadium could be tallied in the tens of thousands but the fans who did show up witnessed a remarkable stand of 273.

The pair came together in the second over after Sam Curran strangled Will Young down leg for a golden duck and proceeded to pile on 30 fours and eight sixes in a major statement of intent.

England, meanwhile, were chaotic with the bat, lethargic with the ball and sloppy in the field.

Put in to bat first they relied on Root to spare the blushes of his mis-firing top-order team-mates.

Dawid Malan was first to go for a scratchy 14, caught behind flashing hard at the impressive Matt Henry.

Jonny Bairstow (33) enjoyed a smoother start – including a flicked six off Trent Boult from the second ball of the day – but he offered a tame catch off Mitchell Santner just as he looked to take control.

Harry Brook, deputising for Stokes, also burned brightly and briefly. He clattered two fours and a six off Ravindra as he dropped three successive deliveries short, then lifted the next one straight down Conway’s throat at deep midwicket.

When Moeen Ali lost his off stump hacking across the line at Glenn Phillips, England had slipped to 118 for four, but a stand of 70 between Root and Buttler (43) offered some stability.

Root had unleashed a trademark reverse ramp for six off Boult early in his stay, but for the most part he played conservatively rather than looking dominate. Measured against the rest of his side, it was a cut above. Measured against the opposition, it was not enough.

He departed in the 42nd over, nutmegging and yorking himself in one swift movement as he tried to reverse sweep Phillips.

Chris Woakes set the tone for a chastening reply, kicking off with a half-volley that Conway gratefully stroked through cover and shipping 10 from his opening over.

Young’s cheap exit raised English spirits, however briefly, when he grazed a leg-side loosener from Curran into Buttler’s gloves but that merely brought the match-winners together.

Ravindra, promoted to number three for the first time in his ODI career, made an early target of Woakes as the experienced seamer served up a sequence of gentle four balls.

When England sought to reclaim control through the blunt pace of Wood, it only made things worse.

Conway drove his first ball straight past him for four before Ravindra peeled off a pair of lovely strokes, a swivel pull that raced flat through the night sky for six and a perfectly-timed punch through point on top of the bounce.

Wood looked rattled as he continued to crank up his speeds only for the ball to disappear with regularity, Conway eagerly showing off his prowess against the quick stuff.

By the end of the 10-over powerplay the Kiwis had roared to 81 for one, a clear 30 past England’s score at the same stage.

Ravindra had Moeen in his sights now, clubbing him for six in each of his first two overs, and even the arrival of Adil Rashid’s leg-spin could not slow things down.

Stokes emerged from the dugout to deliver some words of encouragement at the first drinks break but, even at that stage, it seemed too late.

The required rate continued to come down as both men reached celebrated centuries, Conway first over the line but Ravindra one ball quicker in just 82.

The closing stages of the chase were a procession, with runs flowing at will and a weary England side barely able to contain them before the finishing touches came off the second ball of the 37th over.

Reece Topley is ready to play the long game as he looks to put his World Cup woes behind him, but the seamer admits England’s interrupted preparations have left him “undercooked”.

England get their title defence under way in Ahmedabad on Thursday when they face New Zealand in a replay of the 2019 final, but their lead up to that curtain-raiser has been less than straightforward.

A 38-hour trip to their warm-up base in Guwahati was branded “utter chaos” by Jonny Bairstow, before their first practice match against India was rained off without a ball being bowled.

They were able to get some game time in against Bangladesh on Monday, but their four-wicket win came in a game reduced to 37 overs and none of their bowlers delivered more than five.

That is a light load to take into a flagship fixture, but for Topley simply arriving at the Narendra Modi Stadium fit for duty would be a success of sorts.

Little over a year ago, just days before the start of the T20 World Cup in Australia, he tripped on a boundary sponge and was ruled out of a tournament England went on to win.

“If anything I would say that I’m pretty undercooked, but going into a long tournament I don’t necessarily think that is the worst thing,” the left-armer said after tuning up with a three-wicket haul.

“I feel like I’m just about to come into my stride, hopefully. It’s not about tearing in at the warm up game and impressing the right people, it is about delivering in the nine group games.

“That last group game is still pretty far away so I feel like I’m where I should be, but there is still some work to be done for sure.

“After missing the first game due to the weather it was good for us to be able to get out on the field and for people to get what they needed from the experience which is a positive outcome.

“We’ve all been doing our training after having a couple of weeks without matches so it is nice to get back in the groove with playing in the middle and it helps to assess what you still need to work on before that first proper match.”

Topley, who has lost long spells of his career due to injury problems, has spoken openly about the trauma of his late withdrawal from last year’s trophy-winning side and has been doing everything in his power to avoid a repeat. Mercifully, his luck has held so far.

“I’ve been steering clear of any mishaps and playing it quite safe, and I’ll continue to do so ahead of the first game,” he said.

“Obviously I don’t want any repeat of what was so gutting last year in Brisbane at the T20 World Cup. It was a tough period to go through and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone because these are the moments and the events that you dream of being a part of and playing your part in.

“Hopefully I can play my part this year and make up for lost time if anything and make a contribution to England going all the way again. I’m looking forward to getting some game time, just as I was anticipating last year, and this time hopefully I can help the team retain the trophy.”

There is stiff competition for places among the England bowling ranks, with Topley joining Chris Woakes, Mark Wood, David Willey, Sam Curran and Gus Atkinson in a well-stocked pace attack.

England expect it to be a group effort in India, with a draining schedule that involves new venues and internal flights for every group match, but everyone has their eye on the opening match as the first signs of a pecking order emerge.

“I think everyone is fighting for a spot in that final XI. You’ve just got to do all you can to put your case forward to feature in that side,” Topley explained.

“I felt like I gave a good account of myself in the run out. Whatever 11 they end up picking, the whole squad is right behind each other, it is going to take a squad effort to be successful out here and the side that goes out in each match will continue to live up to the exciting way we play our cricket.”

The World Cup gets under way on Thursday with the status of one-day internationals dwindling as Twenty20 continues to take precedence.

England have played fewer ODIs heading into this tournament than for any World Cup in almost 30 years and here, the PA news agency looks at the changing nature of the international calendar.

Has the ODI bubble burst?

The first two World Cups, in 1975 and 1979, were played with ODIs barely yet an established format – the first fixture took place on January 5, 1971 but only 53 were played all decade outside of those tournaments.

Post-1979, England’s 42 ODIs in the four-year cycle leading up to this World Cup marks their third-lowest total and their fewest since the 1996 tournament, when they had played only 38 in between World Cups. They played 40 leading up to 1983.

The picture is similar for the other leading ODI nations, with India’s 66 ODIs also their third-lowest in a World Cup cycle in that time and exceeding the four-year periods up to 1996 (63) and 1983 (27).

Australia’s 44 is their lowest excluding the 1970s tournaments, with 64 leading up to the 1983 World Cup and at least 75 on every other occasion since.

The four-year cycle was briefly broken by a switch to even-numbered years in the 1990s. There were five years between the tournaments in 1987 and 1992 and only three up to 1999, when the regular pattern was re-established.

Twenty20 vision

The decline of the 50-over game has been brought about by the rise of the shortest format and this cycle is the first time T20 internationals have made up the largest share of England’s fixtures.

With 68 games, excluding those abandoned without a ball bowled, T20 accounts for 40.8 per cent of England’s games since the 50-over World Cup final against New Zealand on July 14, 2019.

They have played 58 Tests in that time (34.3 per cent) and only 42 ODIs (24.9 per cent), the lowest share of England’s fixtures for the latter format since the years leading up to the 1975 World Cup when they played 50 Tests to 17 ODIs.

T20 was only introduced for the first time in 2005 and made up just 2.8 per cent of England’s games between the 2003 and 2007 World Cups. That had jumped to 20.4 per cent in the next cycle and has doubled in the years since.

Feeling the squeeze

With all three formats battling for their place in the calendar, something has to give.

Ben Stokes, the hero of England’s 2019 World Cup win, shockingly announced his retirement from the format last year with a warning that “there is too much cricket rammed in for people to play all three formats now”.

He has returned for this World Cup – but as a specialist batter, with knee problems inhibiting his bowling – but his prolonged absence hinted at a wider trend.

Eight of the 2019 World Cup-winning squad also appear in the group this time around – captain Jos Buttler, Stokes, Joe Root, Jonny Bairstow, Moeen Ali, Adil Rashid, Chris Woakes and Mark Wood.

They had played an average of 74.1 per cent of England’s games between the 2015 and 2019 tournaments, with Rashid at 94.3 per cent, but none have even reached that average mark in the years since.

Moeen’s 73.8 per cent is the leading figure, with the average down to 48.8. Wood has played just 19 per cent, below even Stokes’ 31 per cent.

A one-man batting show from Jonny Bairstow was not enough for England as New Zealand sealed a six-wicket win at Trent Bridge to level the T20 series 2-2.

England captain Jos Buttler rested himself for the decider and would have been happy with what he saw as Bairstow smashed 73 from 41 balls at the top of the order, with six sixes and five fours to his name.

That conjured memories of his match-winning Test century against the same opponents at the same ground last summer, but after he holed out in the 12th over England ran out of steam as they slowed to 175 for eight.

Dawid Malan and Liam Livingstone both made 26 but neither were fully fluent as the Black Caps reasserted control with their spin contingent, who shared six wickets.

Meanwhile Harry Brook, whose hopes of forcing his way into England’s World Cup squad puts both Malan and Livingstone at some risk, could only manage four.

After finishing the England innings with five for 38 in the last five overs, New Zealand came out firing and made a confident pursuit to complete their comeback from 2-0 down with Buttler making an unexpected substitute’s outing behind the stumps after Bairstow reported a niggle.

Tim Seifert (48), Glenn Phillips (42) and Mark Chapman (40no) combined to take down England, who could not keep a check on the boundary count.

The pick of the home side’s bowling attack was 18-year-old Rehan Ahmed, making his debut on home soil after his rapid rise over the winter.

He was sharp and economical with two for 27 in his four-over allocation and also completed a run out, a timely reminder of his promise almost six months since his last England appearance.

The real business is now set to begin, with a ODI series starting in Cardiff on Friday in what represents a final warm-up for next month’s World Cup in India.

But England, whose evening ended with 16 balls unbowled as Luke Wood mis-fielded to gift the winning runs, will need to sharpen up.

Jonny Bairstow hammered 73 as he carried England to 175 for eight in their T20 series decider against New Zealand.

Bairstow was in bruising form at Trent Bridge, giving the Black Caps an unwanted reminder of last summer’s memorable Test century in Nottingham, nailing six sixes and five fours as he made the most of a 41-ball stay.

With England leading 2-1 at the start of this fourth and final match, Bairstow threatened to drag the game away from the tourists but his departure in the 12th over heralded a shift in momentum.

With captain Jos Buttler resting himself New Zealand snapped up four for 35 to chip away at the middle order and finished well as England managed just 38 off the last five overs. Six wickets fell to spin, with Mitch Santner claiming three for 30.

Bairstow began in electric form as he came out swinging and rendered his opening partner Will Jacks a virtual bystander.

The Yorkshireman, favouring the leg side, jabbed Matt Henry for six over midwicket, milked Santner’s first visit, then greeted Kyle Jamieson by twice heaving him over the ropes. When Tim Southee attempted to exert some contol with a fuller length, he was pumped over long-on.

Jacks, who would later nick Ish Sodhi for 16 to complete a quiet series, was confined to rotating the strike as his partner accounted for 43 of the first 50 runs.

No English batter has ever reached a half-century inside the six-over powerplay before but Bairstow came within two runs of the feat, all at a flamboyant strike rate of exactly 200.

With Jacks gone, Bairstow continued to carry the show, bringing up the England hundred by stepping back and lifting a Santner drag-down for his sixth six. He was gone next ball, looking for another big blow down the ground, but he had left a formidable platform.

England threatened to waste it somewhat as Dawid Malan and Harry Brook – the former in possession of a preliminary World Cup spot that the the latter covets – both failed to convince.

The Brook bandwagon has put pressure on the selectors since he was omitted from the provisional squad for next month’s tournament, but he made four from eight balls and was caught off a modest Sodhi delivery.

Malan made his way to a sluggish 26 but picked out deep square when he tried to pick things up against Santner in the 16th. Moeen Ali went the same way moments later as England threatened to fall away and Sam Curran also came and went quickly.

Liam Livingstone hit a couple of sixes as he chipped in 26 before Henry dismissed him with the closing ball of the innings, while Rehan Ahmed also cleared the ropes on his home international debut. But New Zealand finished strongly, keeping the total well below the predicted peak during Bairstow’s assault.

Jonny Bairstow admits there is no substitute for international cricket as he looks to get his game in shape for England’s World Cup defence.

Bairstow looked in fine touch as he hit an unbeaten 86 from 60 balls to lay the platform for an emphatic 95-run win over New Zealand in the second Vitality International T20 clash at Old Trafford on Friday.

The World Cup begins in India in just over a month’s time and, having played only four matches in the Hundred since the Ashes ended in July prior to this series, Bairstow is pleased to be back in action.

“I just wanted to play, to be quite honest with you,” said the 33-year-old. “I wanted to be back out playing white-ball cricket because I think that the natural rhythms of the games, whether it’s T20 or 50-over cricket, is something that, especially when you’re playing internationally, is something that’s very hard to replicate.

“You can play the Hundred, you can play for Yorkshire, but the different bowlers, the pressures, the crowds, the pitches – everything that comes with playing international cricket – is very difficult to replicate.

“So I was very keen to play these T20s leading into the ODIs and then, naturally, leading into the World Cup in a few weeks’ time.”

Bairstow combined in a thrilling 131-run partnership with Yorkshire team-mate Harry Brook from just 65 balls.

Brook, who was controversially omitted from England’s provisional World Cup squad, hit five sixes in a blistering 36-ball 67.

Debutant Gus Atkinson then took an impressive four for 20 as New Zealand slumped to 103 all out in reply.

They now head to Edgbaston for the third encounter of the four-match series on Sunday with a 2-0 lead after an equally-comfortable win in Durham on Wednesday.

The sides will also play four one-day internationals this month and Bairstow expects the Kiwis – coincidentally England’s first World Cup opponents in Ahmedabad on October 5 – to bite back.

“They’re a blooming good team, New Zealand,” Bairstow said. “They’ve been an exceptional team for a long period of time and we know how dangerous they can be.

“We can’t take for granted how good these two performances have been. We’ve also got to look at how good they actually are as well, but we’ve played some exceptional cricket these last two games.

“And if we can keep doing that – and keep doing that over a longer period of time – then that can only be a good thing.

“It builds confidence, it builds an environment within the dressing room that enhances people’s performances when they go out in the middle.

“They feel like they can hit the ball for six, they feel like they can take a wicket each ball. They feel confident enough to take a risk.”

New Zealand seamer Adam Milne accepts his team need to pick themselves up for the games to come.

He said: “I think we’ll have to just regroup, but we like to keep things pretty calm in our changing room – not get too high, not too low.

“I think we’ll have a bit of a review of the game and just try and find those little bits of improvements in our games and hopefully come out at Edgbaston and throw some shots from our end.”

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