Bowlers rescue England as David Willey shines to send India ODI series to decider

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Bowlers rescue England as David Willey shines to send India ODI series to decider
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It was not always pretty, it certainly did not follow the plan they laid out, and it was their unheralded bowlers, not their star batters, who got the job done. But England levelled the ODI series against India at Lord’s, setting up a decider on Sunday.

This feels a significant win for Jos Buttler and Matthew Mott, the post-Morgan captain and coach. They were blown away in the first two T20s last week, but won a dead rubber when India rested their top bowlers. Now, against a full strength India side, with the series on the line after a heavy defeat, they toughed out a victory, by 100 runs.

Their two left-arm seamers, David Willey and Reece Topley, were at the heart of the win. Willey helped England reach 246 having come in at 148 for six with more than 20 overs remaining.

Then the pair provided the perfect start to the defence, bowling four maidens up top. Topley dismissed the openers, Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan, then Willey had Virat Kohli – who looked in ominous form – caught behind. When Brydon Carse followed up with the wicket of Rishabh Pant in the 12th over, India were 31 for four, and the game was all but over.

Topley would return, twice, and pick up a wicket in the opening over of his spell. First, came the big scalp of Suryakumar Yadav, then Mohammed Shami, whose slogging was beginning to irritate England at the top of a long tail. Next ball, Liam Livingstone, with his first delivery of the match, bowled Ravindra Jadeja to truly end India’s hopes.

Topley completed his maiden international five-wicket haul by skidding one through Yuzvendra Chahal’s defence, then finished he job by bowling Prasidh Krishna. He finished with remarkable figures of 9.5-2-24-6, the best ODI figures for England and the best by any bowler in an ODI at Lord’s.

Having been asked to bat first again, England’s 246, bowled out with an over to spare, was a disappointment. But it represented a decent recovery from 102 for five, with their top five gone, at which point they were threatening another meltdown of the sort we saw at the Kia Oval on Tuesday. Then, they were skittled for 110 and lost by 10 wickets. This time, they started better and scrambled harder.

After four of the top six made ducks last week, England needed a calmer start, and Jason Roy and Jonny Bairstow provided just that. They shared 41 before Roy, who had been skittish once again, picked out the single figure in the deep on the legside off Hardik Pandya.

It was the introduction of Yuzvendra Chahal that sent England, insistent on sweeping, to pieces. Bairstow was bowled bowled, sweeping, then Joe Root was plumb in front. For a while, Ben Stokes’ reverse sweeping worked very well, but he was soon lbw too and, like Root, took a review with him. By then, Mohammed Shami, who troubled Roy up top, had returned to bowl Buttler.

Moeen and Liam Livingstone began the rebuild, sharing 46. But Livingstone was drawn into a battle of egos with Pandya, and lost. Having crunchy a pair of brilliant boundaries, four then six, Livingstone took the long boundary on once more and was caught.

That paired Moeen and Willey, who put on 62 from 13 overs, the biggest stand of the match. Each landed two big sixes, before being caught on the fence. A few flays and slogs from the tail added a final few runs that felt vital. In truth, England already had enough.

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