“Root stuck to his basics and came out hard against the pumped up Indian bowling”
Prior to the start of the series, both the teams stood an equal chance of winning the series. In fact, India were the favourites going into the series by looking at the way they fared in the Twenty20 Internationals. Their spinners were the talk of the town and reawakened England’s old spin problems with some guile. But England defied all the odds and came out fighting in the ODI series to seek revenge; they won the three-match competition 2-1.
This series was of utmost importance for both the sides with the World Cup being just a few months away and scheduled to be played in England. It gave a good idea where both the teams needed improvement. England once again gave a testament to their supremacy in this format and played like champions. This series win has certainly infused a lot of confidence in this English side and now they can strongly believe that they can win the World Cup. They have beaten one of the most formidable sides in world cricket.
England’s premier batsman Joe Root had a key role to play behind England’s successful campaign. He played two crucial innings in both the games that England won and helped them emerge victorious. Root is a big match player and a champion; when the going was getting tough for the elegant Englishman, he bounced back emphatically to silent his harshest critics. Root smashed a match-winning century at Lord’s and then continued his food form in the final game at Headingley.
In ODIs, a team’s best batsman bats at number three, it is a crucial position in the batting line-up. Root is by far England’s best batsman in contemporary cricket and delivered what was expected out of him. For England to succeed, it was mandatory for their best batsman to rediscover his lost mojo and get the scoreboard ticking. Root had a terrible time in the T20 series, where his parched runs column also saw him being dropped in the final encounter.
Coming to the ODI series, he was low on confidence and needed to overcome a huge mental barrier. Things went from bad to worse for Root, when he was dismissed for a single digit score in the first encounter at Nottingham. England lost the first game by a massive margin and another series defeat looked on the cards. Most importantly, Root was feeling the pressure. He desperately needed a big score under his belt, there were questions being raised on his ability.
Coming to Nottingham, England needed a total of over 300 to pose any kind of challenge for the formidable Indian batting. The pitch was flat and had a lot of assistance for the batsmen. England’s biggest challenge was to overcome India’s wrist-spinners. Root is the kind of a batsman, who is equally effective against pace as well as spin. His survival in the middle was important for England in order to tackle the Indian spinners.
Root stuck to his basics and came out hard against the pumped up Indian bowling. He scored a tenacious century and anchored the English innings with perfection. England successfully defended the total and squared the series. Root was the architect-in-chief behind this English win and signs were pretty clear that he regained his mojo. The final game was a do-or-die one for both the sides.
England restricted India to a modest total of 256, but the visitors had the bowling to defend such total. After a solid start, Jonny Bairstow was dismissed for a brisk 30. Root walked in and assessed the situation to perfection. England had all the time in the world to chase down the target and needed their batsmen to spend time in the middle. Root played his natural game. Instead of taking any risks, he stuck to his guns, rotated the strike and played some elegant strokes. He didn’t lose faith from his game or his technique, he stuck to it. He replicated his magic at Headingley by scoring another scintillating ton in a nail-biting situation.
Root and English skipper Eoin Morgan stitched a match-winning partnership to carry the English side over the line. After a series of poor outing, Root now has two centuries from two games and has found rhythm just before the Test series. England will be happy to see their best batsman peaking at the right time, which will be crucial from their point of view. They also demonstrated that they could work a way out against any team as they successfully did it against India. They are still the No 1 ranked side in ICC ODI rankings. With the shorter-formats coming to an end, all eyes are not set on the Test series and Root.