England post imposing 321/8 against India

Kolkata, Jan 22 (IANS) Ben Stokes remained unconquered with a cracking 57 runs as England consolidated a sound start with rollicking slog-hitting to post an imposing 321/8 in the third One-Day International (ODI) cricket match against India here on Sunday.

Put in to bat by Indian skipper Virat Kohli, England set India a chase of 6.44 runs per over for victory before a full house at the venerable Eden Gardens.

After some initial discomfort in the opening overs when the Indian pacers got help from the wicket, openers Jason Roy (65; 56 balls, 10×4, 1×6) and Sam Billings (35; 58 balls, 5×4) put on 98 runs to set a perfect launch pad for England.

Jonny Bairstow (56; 64 balls, 5×4, 1×6) and Eoin Morgan (43; 44 balls, 2×4, 3×6) negotiated the middle overs well with a 84-run stand, before Stokes (57 not out; 39 balls, 4×4, 2×6) blasted the cherry in the later stages, plundering 73 runs during a 40-ball partnership for the seventh wicket with Ben Oakes (34; 19 balls, 4×4, 1×6).

Roy continued his good form to get to his third consecutive 50 in the series, eighth in 35 One-Day matches. With Ravindra Jadeja brought into the attack in the 16th over, the 26-year-old Surrey right-hander welcomed him by getting to the pitch of the ball, and then hit the ball over long-on for the first six of the game.

However, the Indian left-arm spinner managed to break the opening partnership in his very next over, picking up Billings. England were 98 for 1 in 17.2 overs.

The 100-run mark was reached after two deliveries, but it was not long before Jadeja struck again, getting rid of the dangerous Roy for the third consecutive time in the series.

The South Africa-born cricketer misjudged the line and length of a fuller delivery, and attempting to cut was beaten all ends up, leaving his stumps shattered.

At 110/2, Morgan walked out to partner Jonny Bairstow in the middle. With right-arm offie Ravichandran Ashwin joining Jadeja, the double-spin attack slowed down the scoring rate, and the tourists reached 127/2 at the halfway stage.

Bairstow, playing his maiden game of the series, tried to break the shackles with a six off Jadeja, but the two batsmen survived two close calls against Bumrah in the 29th over.

First Morgan survived an appeal for a caught behind, umpire Dharmasena turning it down. An unimpressed Kohli reviewed the decision, but Ultra Edge technology found no evidence of a nick.

Two balls later, there was more drama. Bairstow’s uppercut was “caught” by Ashwin at deep third man, but as the batsman started his walk back the umpires stopped him, consulted the third umpire and after checking replays, ruled it a “no ball”.

With the batsmen having crossed, Morgan sent the free hit delivery scurrying over long leg for a six.

Morgan looked more confident with time, and hoisted Jadeja and Ashwin out of the ground, as the two batsmen enjoyed a rollicking time.

But just when it looked as if Morgan was in line for a big score, came the anti-climax. Morgan had only himself to blame, as he flicked an ordinary ball from Hardik Pandya straight to Bumrah. England were then 194 for three in the 34th over.

The 200 came in the next over, with Jose Buttler picking up a boundary off Jadeja.

The 38th over saw another review, this time by England, and they were spot on. Umpire Chaudhary had adjudged Bairstow — then on 46 — caught behind off a short ball from Pandya, but the review showed the ball had eluded the bat.

But Buttler (11) did not last long, becoming Pandya’s second victim.

Bairstow, who got his third half-century in 23 ODIs during the day, finally went back in the 42nd over, cutting the ball straight to Jadeja at backward point. Pandya was the most successful of Indian bowlers with figures of 10-1-49-3.

After Moeen Ali fell cheaply, Stokes and Woakes took over to take the score past 300, also helping England post 96 runs in the last 10 overs.

Brief scores: England 321-8 in 50 overs (Jason Roy 65, Ben Stokes 57 not out, Jonny Bairstow 56; Hardik Pandya 3-49, Ravindra Jadeja 2-62).