India's famed batting line-up faltered in a competitive chase after Joe Root returned to form with a classy century to guide England to a series-levelling 86-run win in the second ODI of the three-match rubber at Lord's in London on Saturday.
By virtue of this win, England have levelled the series 1-1 after India had won the first ODI by eight wickets at Nottingham. The series-deciding final ODI will be played at Leeds on July 17. England captain Eoin Morgan was bang on target with the toss as he decided to bat first after winning the toss on a wicket that slowed down as time passed by. Root responded to his captain's call and returned to form with a classy 113 off 166 balls, his 12th century of career, to steer England to a competitive 322 for seven. He was ably supported by skipper Morgan (53 off 51 balls) and all-rounder David Willey (50 no off 31 balls).
Left-arm wrist spinner Kuldeep Yadav (3/68) was again the most successful bowler while Umesh Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal and Hardik Pandya picked up a wicket apiece. But India never got going while chasing the target. Barring an 80-run fourth wicket stand between skipper Virat Kohli (45) and Suresh Raina (46), all other batsmen struggled as the visitors were bundled out for 236. Rohit Sharma (15) and Shikhar Dhawan (36) shared 49 runs for the opening stand before both perished in successive overs to put India on the back foot. KL Rahul too failed to get going, departing for a duck edging his second delivery to Jos Buttler behind the stumps off Plunkett's bowling in the 11th over.
Thereafter, Kohli and Raina raised visions of a victory, stitching 80 runs for the fourth wicket but that was not to be as both perished in quick succession to hurt India's cause. While Kohli was adjudged LBW to Moeen Ali, Raina was cleaned up by leg-spinner Adil Rashid few overs later. From there on, it was a difficult task for the rest of batsmen and veteran Mahendra Singh Dhoni (37) too struggled to rotate the strike scoring his runs off 59 balls. Dhoni's innings was a struggle from the word go as he tried to rebuild the chase in the company of Hardik Pandya (21) and the tail which never materialised. Plunkett picked up four wicket for England giving away 46 runs, while Willey (2/48) and Rashid (2/38) shared four wickets between them.
Earlier, Jason Roy (40) and Jonny Bairstow (38) provided a quick start to England's innings as they put on 69 for the opening wicket off 62 balls. Umesh (1/63) and Siddarth Kaul found some swing with the new ball, but failed to provide early breakthroughs. As the openers started to play more shots and boundaries flowed, India brought on Hardik Pandya (1/70) into the attack in only the fifth over. The move didn't yield any result as the all-rounder was taken for 21 runs in his first two-over spell.
Chahal (1/43) was then introduced into the attack in the ninth over, followed by Kuldeep two overs later and the latter struck with his second ball in the 11th over. Kuldeep bowled Bairstow as the batsman went for a sweep and the ball hit the stumps after ricocheting off his pads. England were then reduced to 86 for 2 as Kuldeep picked up his second wicket in 12 balls as Roy was caught in the deep trying to clear the fence. It was an unnecessary shot, much like his reverse sweep at Trent Bridge, which had triggered a collapse. But this time, Root and Morgan countered Kuldeep's threat in the middle overs with some sensible shot selection.
They rotated the strike and looked to pick up the odd boundary in between. In doing so they added 103 runs off 99 balls for the third wicket which put England back in contention for a 300-plus score. After the initial setbacks, the hosts crossed 150 in the 25th over. Morgan scored his 38th ODI half-century off 49 balls, while Root reached his fifty off 56 balls. But Kuldeep came back into the attack as the visitors searched for a wicket and duly delivered when Morgan was holed out in the deep of a full toss.
Even as 200 came up in the 33rd over, England slumped from 189 for 2 to 203 for 4 in the 34th over. Umesh and Pandya provided a double blow in the form of Ben Stokes (5) and in-form Jos Buttler (4), both of whom were caught behind the wicket by Dhoni, who became the fourth wicket keeper to complete 300 ODI catches after Adam Gilchrist (417), Mark Boucher (403) and Kumar Sangakkara (402). Chahal bowled a tight seven-over spell in this passage of play as England lost 3 wickets for 40 runs in the penultimate 10 overs. Moeen Ali (13) tried to break the shackles, but only managed to hole out off Chahal in the 42nd over with Rohit taking a fine catch. Willey then joined Root in the middle and together they turned the tables, scoring 82 runs in the last eight overs to propel their score.