IND vs ENG: Tourists bounce back as Ben Stokes, Jonny Bairstow steal show with towering sixes

A commanding display by England opener Jonny Bairstow and Ben Stokes helped the tourists secure a resounding six-wicket win against India in the second ODI in Pune on Friday. The duo combined to wreak havoc on the Indian bowlers, spearheaded by Bhuvneshwar Kumar, as the tourists made mockery of a stiff 337-run chase and wrapped the proceedings inside 44 overs. 

With this win, the three-match series is now squared at 1-1, thus setting up an exciting series decider, which is all set to take place on Sunday at the same venue.

Bairstow along with fellow opener Jason Roy started the run-chase on a slow note, but the pair started firing big after spending substantial time at the middle. The pair provided the tourists with the perfect start as they combined to add 110 runs for the first wicket, before a superb effort by Rohit Sharma brought an end to Roy’s stay in the middle. 

The opener, who has been enjoying rich form since the T20Is, scored 55 from 52 balls, which included seven fours and one six. Following the dismissal of Roy, England’s premier all-rounder Ben Stokes joined Bairstow in the middle and what followed next was absolute carnage. 

The pair started off by fetching quick runs, thus not allowing the required run-rate to mount. Bairstow along with Stokes added 175 runs in just 113 deliveries for the second wicket, which literally took the game away from India’s hands. 

Bhuvneshwar broke the partnership when Stokes was batting at 99 off 52 balls but by the time the damage was already done. Batting at a strike-rate of a little over 190.00, Stokes went on to smash ten towering sixes and four boundaries. 

Following Stokes’ dismissal, Prasidh Krishna did provide the hosts with a late ray of hope as he went on to remove Bairstow and Jos Buttler in the following over. Bairstow completed his 11th ODI ton, while Buttler was sent packing for duck. 

Liam Livingstone, who made his ODI debut on Friday, along with Dawid Malan guided the visitors home and wrapped up the show with 39 balls to spare.  

Meanwhile, skipper Virat Kohli led India’s rescue act earlier in the day after the hosts were invited to bat first by skipper Buttler. The right-handed batsman arrived in the middle when the hosts were reeling at 9/1 in 3.5 overs, after being invited to bat first by Jos Buttler. 

Leading the rescue act for India, skipper Kohli went on to score 66 from 79 balls and stitched a crucial partnership with batsman KL Rahul. The pair added 121 runs for the third wicket, helping hosts gain a formidable position in the contest.  

Rahul, who was going through a rough patch in the recently-concluded T20I series against England, seems to finally get his groove back as the 28-year-old scored a fine century in the contest. The batsman initially began playing a perfect second-fiddle to skipper Kohli and reconstructed India’s innings after losing two early wickets. 

Rahul went on to notch his fifth ODI ton, before he was dismissed by Tom Curran on 108 off 114 balls, which included seven fours and two sixes. During the course of his innings, Rahul stitched a crucial 121-run stand with his skipper for the third-wicket and added another vital 113 runs with wicketkeeper-batsman Rishabh Pant, who scored a swashbuckling 40-ball 77, for the fourth wicket as hosts piled a gigantic 336/6 in 50 overs.

After Rahul’s dismissal, Pant continued to fetch quick runs and found a similar tempo by Hardik Pandya batting at the other end. The pair added 37 runs in twelve balls for the fifth wicket, which also included two one-handed sixes by the 23-year old. 

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Sagar Biswas

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