India have defeated England by 66 runs in the first one-day international in a game that will once again provoke questions over England’s batting line-up.
England won the toss and chose to put India into bat, but the hosts rose to the challenge and performed incredibly well to set England a target of 318 to win from their 50 overs. Ben Stokes took three wickets but not before Shikhar Dhawan had hit 98, while KL Rahul, Virat Kohli and Krunal Pandya all scored half-centuries to put the pressure on an England side who always fancy themselves in a big run chase.
That chase of India’s 317-5 seemed even more achievable after a strong start from the English batsmen. Jason Roy and Jonny Bairstow put together an outstanding partnership to reach 135-0 as the pair looked almost invincible in the middle, reaching that figure after just 14.1 overs. India and Virat Kohli looked to be well on the back foot, but the turning point came when Roy was caught by Suryakumar Yadav at point for 46 to break the opening partnership.
Captain Eoin Morgan defiantly said after the loss: "We've done a lot of things right today. I thought the bowlers were outstanding, as were our two openers. We failed to continue building. We play an aggressive brand of cricket, we just need to execute better than we did today. This is the way we play and this is the way we'll continue to play."
Roy’s 46 came from just 35 balls, and with no Joe Root on the limited-overs leg of the tour, Ben Stokes came in at No.3 and was dismissed for just one two overs later as the wheels quickly began to come off. Bairstow, who had batted phenomenally to reach 94 in just 66 balls, went big in an attempt to make it to a century but came up short. His swing for a six was gratefully caught by Kuldeep Yadav at deep midwicket, and in truth India knew they had the visitors on the ropes.
At that point, 169-3 with 22.1 overs bowled, England were way ahead of schedule to reel in that Indian total. They had plenty of balls in hand and just needed a steady pairing to come into the middle and settle a few of the nerves that had started to emerge. Yet they completely lost their way, as Eoin Morgan edged to Rahul and Jos Buttler departed for lbw just three balls later, the complexion of the entire game changing entirely as a result.
From 169-2 to 175-5. That is how you lose a one-day match in a matter of minutes. Sam Billings and Moeen Ali put up a rally of sorts but India soon cleaned up the tail-end with little fuss.
England have two one-day internationals against India to put this right and win this mini-series, but on today’s display there will be justified call for improvement. Billings didn’t take his chance when offered the perfect opportunity to stake his claim, with an injury sustained in the field perhaps partly at fault, while Morgan also batted despite splitting the webbing in his hand during the India innings.
It was a remarkable turnaround for India after England had been on top going into the death overs of the home side’s innings, but Root is a huge miss in this side. His calmness with the bat would have been hugely welcomed at number three, after the openers Roy and Bairstow had fired England to 135-0. The visitors had done a lot of the hard work yet seemed to lose their heads when a moment of clarity was needed.