England played like World Champions as they chased down the highest-ever total against India in ODIs to register a six-wicket win in Pune to level the three-match series 1-1.
The visitors rode on commanding performances from Jonny Bairstow and Ben Stokes to chase a mammoth 337-run target set by India, with 6.3 overs to spare.
This England win sets up a mouth-watering series decider to be played at the Maharashtra Cricket Association (MCA) stadium on Sunday.
Meanwhile, India will look up to their opening batting partnership of Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma for a better start in the final ODI after they were dismissed in the Powerplay overs in the last encounter. While KL Rahul, Virat Kohli and Rishabh Pant rescued the hosts to set-up a huge total, lack of bite in the bowling while defending their total is what cost them a series-clinching win.
For Jonny Bairstow, it was complete redemption as his 100-plus stand with Jason Roy in the second ODI put behind the disappointment of their partnership in the series opener. His century stands with Roy and Stokes got the Three Lions to 287 in 37 overs until his dismissal on 124.
I anticipate that the series decider on Sunday will have plenty of fireworks and some career-defining moments, and here are my four names who could script a Man of the Match performance in the third and final ODI.
India limited-overs vice-captain Rohit Sharma is undoubtedly one of the finest hitters of the cricket ball and he is due for a big score in the ongoing ODI series. The Indian cricket team opener might be struggling for runs in this ODI series, but he is someone who performs well under pressure. I’m expecting Rohit to bounce back in style in the final encounter on Sunday and add to his tally of 9168 runs in the 50-overs format.
Team India’s swashbuckling wicket-keeper batsman Rishabh Pant once again showed why he is an asset to any side in the second ODI on Friday. The left-hander smashed seven sixes and three fours in his 77-run knock off just 40 balls. Such has been the great depth of talent in Indian cricket, the 23-year-old Pant was playing his first ODI since January 2020. With the kind of form that Rishabh has displayed in the ongoing series against England, I believe Pant will play an important role in the series decider on Sunday.
Stand-in captain Jos Buttler has been a vital cog in England’s One-Day plans, but his recent scores of 1, 3, 8, 2, 0 are indeed alarming to a player of his calibre. The 30-year-old has piled up 316 runs in 18 meetings against India, and his decision to field first earned him a series-levelling victory in the second ODI. My gut feeling is that Buttler will strike back with a top-notch performance in the series decider in Pune.
Adil Rashid got the better of Virat Kohli once again in ODI cricket, as he dismissed the Indian cricket team captain for the fourth time in seven matches. Rashid has been a wicket-taker for England in the middle-overs despite being a little bit expensive in the ongoing ODI series. The pitch for the second ODI didn’t offer solace to spinners but he managed to grab the important wicket of the India talisman and I reckon he might have a plan to scalp more victims in the final ODI on Sunday.
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