Brett’s watch list: Possible Man of the Match contenders for 2nd India-England ODI
A batting collapse from 135/0 in 14 overs to 251 all-out was definitely not a performance England would want to look back, but the trend of their middle-order crumbling down has been identified from the T20I series itself.
England are known for their blistering headstarts and Tuesday was no different as Jason Roy and Jonny Bairstow had kicked-off like they were going to chase down the target themselves. But, it wasn’t meant to be. Call it India’s bowling brilliance or England’s inability to build on an already set momentum, the better team won at the end of the day.
I’ve always loved watching these kinds of games and I’m expecting more of the same when these two teams square off in the 2nd ODI at the same venue on March 26. Having said that, here I give you four names who I believe could muster a Man of the Match performance in the upcoming ODI.
It never really looked like Shikhar Dhawan was playing his first ODI in almost four months. The southpaw shook off his rust to play a Man of the Match innings. As we approach the 2nd ODI, I reckon Dhawan will once again be the wrecker-in-chief for the hosts. The way he batted in the tricky conditions of Pune - I say tricky because the ball actually swung and seamed early on in the game - was a visual delight. One can very well argue about the dropped catches, but the opener made most of the opportunities presented to him.
Pacer Shardul Thakur has developed a trend of picking important wickets at the crucial moments of the game. Just as we saw in the final T20I, where he dismissed both Dawid Malan and Bairstow in the same over, Thakur was at it once again on Tuesday as he scalped the wickets of Bairstow, Eoin Morgan and Jos Buttler in the span of just two overs. One cannot help but notice a pattern here. Thakur concedes more runs early in the game, but comes back well and becomes increasingly hard to play against later on. He may have not gotten the limelight he deserves, but the second ODI could present him with an opportunity to do so.
It’s been eight months since Jason Roy last hit an ODI half-century. The last time he had scored a ton was against Australia in July 2019, and there was no stopping the England opener then as he had hit his fourth consecutive fifty-plus score. A dry run of form ever since was about to end in Pune on Tuesday when a poor shot culminated in an eventual England collapse. Roy has been prolific alongside Bairstow, with the duo averaging 60.45 and scoring 7.04 runs an over. This figure, right now, is the best amongst any other opening pair, which includes Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma. I believe it’s high time for Roy to get back to his best, and a decent score, by which I mean at least a half-century, would arguably work in his favour.
The quality that Ben Stokes brings to the table is next to none really. He may have struggled for runs in the 1st ODI, but he more than made up for that with his three-wicket haul, which had wickets of Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan and Hardik Pandya. These were three crucial wickets. While Dhawan was on course to his century, Pandya has been in prolific form in ODIs of late. Hence, it goes without saying that Stokes will once again remain a key component for England and the likely absence of Eoin Morgan and Sam Billings will require him to step up in the 2nd ODI.
I believe a Stokes masterclass is in the offering.