India 198 for 8 (Hardik 51, Suryakumar 39, Hooda 33) beat England 148 (Moeen 36, Hardik 4-33) with 50 runs
Hardik was a minor player at the World Cup due to back and shoulder injuries, putting up 45 balls and bowling just four overs in five games, but at Thursday night’s Ageas Bowl he was the driving force behind India’s 50 run victory. † He scored the highest score with 51 from 33 as India scored 198 for 8 playing with plenty of attacking intent, then took three wickets with the new ball to dismantle England’s top order, finishing 4 for 33.
Rohit Sharma, who returned to competitive cricket after contracting Covid-19, chose to bat first on an excellent pitch and set the tone with 24 out of 14 before pushing Moeen Ali’s armball to Jos Buttler, in his first match as full-time English player limited-overs captain after Eoin Morgan’s international retirement.
Hardik struck twice in his first over, clearing Dawid Malan and Liam Livingstone, then clearing Jason Roy with the first ball after the power play for an unusually scratchy 4 out of 16 balls. Moeen and Harry Brook added 61 for the fifth wicket in six overs to keep England’s hopes alive, but Yuzvendra Chahal cleared them both in the space of five balls to end the game as a match.
High risk, high reward
India went hard against England in the power play, and Moeen in particular. Buttler suggested his offspinner throw in the third, making him face lefthanded Ishan Kishan, but after Kishan singled, Rohit hit him through the square leg for consecutive fours.
He fell immediately afterwards and advanced to Buttler, but Hooda continued to attack Moeen, launching consecutive sixes over long-on to go to 12 off 3 balls. Kishan fell on his second ball from Moeen, as Buttler had planned, with a sweep to the short, fine leg, but India finished the power play 66 for 2, with Moeen’s two overs worth 26.
Hard lengths pay off
England have struggled with death over the past year, epitomized by their defeat to New Zealand in the World Cup semi-final last year, and have made a notable shift in their plans to tackle that problem. Jordan tends to rely heavily on his Yorkers, but used the long square boundaries at the Ageas Bowl to his advantage, hitting the ball into the field and reaching a speed of 89 mph/144 kph.
From 150 to 4 after 14 overs, India’s innings dropped a bit. Matt Parkinson, playing as England’s foremost wrist spinner with Adil Rashid making the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca, dragged his figures back after a pricey start but was thrashed by Hardik for six to spawn a 30-ball half-century.
He fell to Reece Topley shortly afterwards and cut to a low point, and despite a few late limits from Dinesh Karthik, India was left with the 200+ score that had seemed inevitable for much of the innings.
Win the power play, win the game
Bhuvneshwar’s first over was a masterpiece, moving four balls away from Roy before throwing an inswinger through Buttler and into the top of his leg stump. Arshdeep, the left-armed sailor who starred for Punjab Kings in the IPL this year, shared the new ball on his debut and moved it both ways, kicking off his international career with a girl from Roy.
Malan hit England’s first four boundaries, three of them in the space of four balls when he found his timing against length balls, but then dragged Hardik’s nip backer on his own stumps as he watched to lead him away through the third. Hardik struck again in his second over, following Livingstone as he shuffled across to shovel, luring a gauntlet to Karthik, and when Roy missed the first legal ball after the power play to third, India had screwed the game .
Moeen and Brook kept England alive by attacking Chahal and Axar Patel, but Brook picked out midwicket and Moeen found himself in the same Chahal to put an end to any dim hopes of a comeback win. Hardik claimed his fourth wicket when Sam Curran fell behind and Arshdeep marked his debut by sacking Topley, who was caught behind a slower ball, and Parkinson, who hit to the point.
The margin of victory would have been even wider, had it not been for India’s field mistakes, with Karthik dropping three catches, particularly guilty, but a 50 point win reflected their dominance. With five members of the Test squad returning for Saturday’s game in Edgbaston, they are sure to round out the series.
Matt Roller is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @mroller98