Pushed to the wall, England bounced back in style to stay alive and skipper Eoin Morgan says that the hosts are very much in contention for a maiden World Cup trophy, provided they produce their A-game in the remaining matches.
Back-to-back defeats to Sri Lanka and Australia threatened to derail England’s World Cup campaign but they came up with a great show when it mattered and defeated India by 31 runs on Sunday to stay afloat.
“Yeah, it is. The closer we can get to playing our A-game, the more of a chance we have of going the whole way. If were scraping our way along, not playing the type of cricket we played in the last four years, I wouldn’t be as confident,” Morgan said at the post-match press conference.
“I think the manner in which we played today, particularly with the bat, was outstanding. It certainly resonates with everybody in the change room to the identity which we wanted to play with in this tournament. It’s come at a really good time and against an extremely strong team. So were delighted.”
England have jumped to the fourth spot with 10 points from eight games and will need to beat New Zealand in their last league match on Wednesday to be assured of a semifinal spot.
The Indian wrist spin duo of Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav were taken to the cleaners by English batsmen on Sunday. While Chahal conceded 88 runs off his 10 overs without any success, Kuldeep went for 72 runs and picked up just one wicket.
Morgan said their strategy to put pressure on Chahal and Kuldeep from the onset made the difference. “Well, to start, there never is one particular strategy to a bowling attack just simply because on any given day anybody can have a bad day and we can’t account for that. So we want to put them under as much pressure as possible,” he said.
“That period from 10 to 20 overs was probably the difference between the game. I think we scored about 90-something runs in 10 or 11 overs. And it was quite evident to see, when the seam was run, the ball was not coming onto the bat, a little bit too pace, a little bit of purchase from cutters, slower balls.”
Morgan said who better than Jonny Bairstow and Jason Roy to execute that plan.
“So Jonny and Jason can make a wicket seem flat at different stages, and they did through that period. So it was a great period for us and obviously got us off to an unbelievable start. So we felt we were ahead of the game at that time,” he said.
Highlighting Jason Roy’s importance up the order, Morgan said Bairstow thrives in the right-handers company.
Opener Roy, who hit 153 in his last innings against Bangladesh, missed England’s defeats against Sri Lanka and Australia with a torn hamstring. “When he was batting, he got hit on the arm and had quite a big bruise. It is just a bruise, and he should be fine. Obviously, having him back on the team is quite a big confidence booster for everybody, particularly when he plays like the way he did today. He’s very intimidating, hard to bowl to, and he’s a gun player,” the skipper said.
“I think they (Bairstow and Roy) complement each other. I think today off their partnership it sort of ebbed and flowed for quite some time. I think Jonny (Bairstow) took a little bit more time to get himself in but obviously capitalised on the start more so than Jason, but the two certainly looked to take the game to India.”
Morgan was also effusive in his praise for England bowlers for keeping the famed Indian batting unit in check in the first 10 overs. “I thought we bowled really well, and I don’t think it was an easy wicket to hit 6s on,” he said.
“I don’t know how many 6s were hit today, but it felt like it was down on probably a normal Edgbaston game where the wicket was normally quite good. So that’s a good indicator.”