India lose her first match but nothing is lost ”“ really

By Kersi Meher-Homji

The end of financial year was also the end of India’s invincibility in the ongoing Cricket World Cup (CWC) 2019.

India lost her first match in this CWC to England by 31 runs at Birmingham last night [30th June]. But every team has lost at least one match, India and Australia are the only teams to lose only once. Some consolation!

England won the toss and batted. And batted brilliantly! Openers Jason Roy (66 runs) and Man of the Match Jonny Bairstow (111) put on 160 attractive and aggressive runs. Later Ben Stokes smashed 79 runs and England totalled 7 for 337. Mohammad Shami took 5 for 69 and Jasprit Bumrah bowled economically.

Twelfth man Ravindrasinh Jadeja took two spectacular catches.

Indian openers seemed dazed by the huge target and started shakily. Lokesh Rahul was out for a duck. Then Rohit Sharma (102) and captain Virat Kohli (66) put on 138 precious runs for the second wicket, cheered lustily by their supporters, waving the Indian national flag with pride.

But the rest could not keep up the tempo and India could manage 5 for 306 to lose by 31 runs. What a shame that Rohit’s splendid century was in vain. The middle order ”“ including MS Dhoni ”“ just could not accelerate.

But no excuses, England out-batted and out-bowled India.

Kohli was philosophical about this defeat. He said at the press conference, “Look every team has lost a game here and there. No one likes to lose but you have to accept the other side played better. The mood is absolutely same in the change room, we understand as professional cricketers it’s a setback.

“(The toss) was vital, specially looking at the boundary that was quite short. I think it was 59 metres which coincidentally is the minimum amount required in an international match. Quite bizarre on a flat pitch. It’s crazy that things fall in place like that randomly. But we should have been clinical because the wicket was flat. We could have accelerated and got closer to their total. If batsmen are able to reverse sweep you for six on a 59 metre boundary there is not much you can do. And one side was 82 metres. Look they had to be a bit smart in the lines they bowled, but you can’t do much with a short boundary.

“I thought they were going towards 360 at one stage and we did quite well to pull them back. We could have restricted them more but Ben [Stokes] played a good innings. We were quite happy at the break. We thought if we get a start we can get it but that didn’t happen, we still had a partnership. When [Rishabh] Pant and [Hardik] Pandya were in there we thought we had a decent chance. But England were better on the day.”

India still has two matches in hand; against Bangladesh tomorrow (2nd July) and Sri Lanka on Saturday the 6th. I am confident that India, currently second on the Table after Australia, will make it to the semi-final.

I hope India includes all-rounder Jadeja in these two matches. He has that X-factor.

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