Chinaman Kuldeep Yadav bamboozled England batsmen with a mesmerizing spell before Rohit Sharma’s sublime century saw India cruise to a eight-wicket victory in the first ODI here on Thursday.
Kuldeep’s career-best figures of 6 for 25 allowed England to only score a modest 268 on good batting conditions.
The chase was a stroll in the park for as the runs were knocked off in only 40.1 overs courtesy Rohit’s (137 no off 114 balls). It was the opener’s 18th ODI hundred, which was beautifully complemented by skipper Virat Kohli (75, 82 balls) as he struck his first 50 plus score of the tour. The Kohli-Rohit duo added 177 runs in 25.1 overs to seal the issue.
Once Kohli opted to field, the English script unfolded very much on similar lines with the T20 series, where things went downhill as soon as Kuldeep was introduced into the attack.
None of the England batsmen were able to read him and a testimony to that was his brilliant figures of 10-0-25-6, the best ever by any chinaman bowler in the history of ODIs.
He bowled an astounding 38 dot balls and not once was he hit for a boundary. This was Kuldeep’s first five-for in ODIs after he had recently achieved the same feat in T20Is during the Manchester encounter.
The manner in which Kuldeep set up the match, there was no scoreboard pressure on the Indian batting line-up unlike the last ODI series, where England trampled Australia under a mountain of runs.
Rohit, who always takes time to get off the blocks and then accelerate, hit 15 fours and four sixes. He completed his century with an effortless hit down the ground off leg-spinner Adil Rashid. As if to celebrate the hundred, he also hit a one-handed six off Moeen Ali.
Kohli on his part hit eight boundaries and was ready to play the second fiddle during his 47th half century in ODI cricket.
Earlier, Jos Buttler (53 off 51 balls) looked the most comfortable while Ben Stokes (50 off 103 balls) played a painstaking knock as Kuldeep blew away the top order after a good start.
Together, they added 83 for the fifth wicket showing signs of recovery but he dismissed the two set batsmen in quick succession to bring about the home team’s downfall.
Moeen Ali (24) and Adil Rashid (22) added a few quick runs ro help England cross the 250-run mark before they were all out in the final over with a delivery left.
That Kuldeep was singularly responsible for England’s batting collapse was evident more so because the next best figures were 2 for 70 in 9.5 overs by Umesh Yadav.
Even Kuldeep’s spin twin Yuzvendra Chahal (1/51 in 10 overs) was not exactly economical.
The match started with both Jason Roy (38) and Jonny Bairstow (38) launching into Yadav and debutant Siddarth Kaul (0/62 in 10 overs) with a flurry of boundaries.
They added 73 for the opening stand before a wrong execution of reverse sweep brought about Roy’s downfall.
Kuldeep was not afraid to flight the ball and dipped viciously having the batsmen in two minds. Some played with the turn and some tried against the turn — both with dismal outcomes.
At the start of the 13th over, Joe Root (3) was completely befuddled by a ripping leg break and was trapped lbw. Four balls later, Bairstow was trapped lbw via DRS, failing to read the googly.
England had collapsed to 82 for 3, losing three wickets for nine runs in the space of 16 balls. Soon, it became 105-4 as Chahal got into the mix of things with Eoin Morgan (19) caught at cover.
This brought Stokes and Buttler together at the crease, and they put on 93 runs for the fifth wicket. Losing too many wickets meant that they had to take time and rebuild the innings, with Stokes in particular scoring at a very low strike-rate.
Buttler though continued his rich vein of form and smacked his 18th ODI half-century off 45 balls. In doing so, he put on 50 off 59 balls with Stokes, yet it was only a part-recovery for England.
Throughout his innings, Buttler batted with most ease against both pace and spin, and hit five boundaries in all. It appeared as if he was preparing for an assault in the death overs, but Kuldeep sucked out any momentum that he had built.