The total ultimately proved more than enough as the Men in Blue romped home by 100 runs on a tricky track.Having aced five chases, the batters may have been itching for a different sort of challenges.
They got it in spades — the brilliance of Chris Woakes, David Willey and Adil Rashid on a helpful wicket. Rohit, who had been striking at 134.01 in the Powerplay coming into this game, played out a maiden to Willey, at that point only the second maiden bowled by a team against India in this World Cup.
The skipper realised early that the pitch may suit England’s attack, that their fielding was on point on the day, that this was not a surface to drive on the up. He switched to ‘Plan B’ and adapted accordingly, playing a measured, patient knock interspersed with moments of sublime artistry and some belligerent hits.
One shot off Adil Rashid was particularly memorable, a slight opening of the bat face as the ball pierced the off-side cordon. Rohit fell just short of scripting an epic but it was the top-order succumbing around him that will worry the team.
Woakes got Shubman Gill with a wobble-seamed beauty that nipped 1.28 degrees back in and zipped through the gap between bat and pad, the opener playing the straight line.
Did England target an existing technical weakness?
A bizarre Kohli dismissal followed, the star batter unable to soak up dot-pressure pressure from David Willley. After a brilliant piece of fielding at cover by Dawid Malan denied him an opportunity to open his account, Kohli fell for a nine-ball duck, his first such instance this year.
Then came the by-now predictable pattern of a Shreyas Iyer dismissal, set up by a short ball. Again, there was dot-ball pressure, forcing the batter to charge at Chris Woakes, who expectedly banged it in and simply waited for the miscued pull to follow. How long before the team management’s patience runs out if Iyer keeps making the same mistakes at this level?
At the halfway stage of the innings, 57 of the 89 runs scored by India had come off Rohit’s bat. KL Rahul played a nice second fiddle with a crucial 91-run stand with his skipper, but then threw his wicket away in the 31st over, charging inexplicably at Willey.
Finally, the ease with which Suryakumar Yadav played on this pitch (49 off 47b; 4×4, 1×6) begs the question: shouldn’t he be a regular in the XI and not just a replacement option?
India chokes England in a low-scoring match | ICC World Cup 2023 | England out of World Cup?
India are on a roll but any chinks that remain in their plans may need to be eliminated before the knockout stage of the World Cup, a stage they are now almost certain to make. And with Pakistan’s semis spot highly unlikely, India set to play their last-four clash in Mumbai.