Bairstow-Stokes partnership blew India away, admits Kohli

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27 Mar 2021 | 05:25 AM
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PTI

Bairstow-Stokes partnership blew India away, admits Kohli

India skipper Virat Kohli had no qualms in admitting that his team was blown away by some "amazing batting" as England chased down 337 with ease.

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India skipper Virat Kohli had no qualms in admitting that his team was blown away by some "amazing batting" from Jonny Bairstow and Ben Stokes as England chased down 337 with consummate ease to level the three-match ODI series. Put in to bat, India posted 336 for six but Bairstow and Stokes butchered the Indian bowlers, adding 175 runs off 117 balls, as England gunned down the target in just 43.3 overs.

"I think we set quite a decent total on the board. It was going to be challenging if we stayed in the game for long periods. I think we started off really well with the new ball but still, England found a way to get a 100 run partnership," Kohli said.

"We didn't execute too well but I thought they batted brilliantly tonight. It was some of the most amazing batting you'll see when chasing. They totally blew us away during that partnership of Jonny and Ben Stokes. We didn't even have a chance during that partnership."

Asked if dew played a role, Kohli said: "I don't think the dew played any role at all. The ball wasn't difficult to hold. You could say the wicket settles down a bit under lights but that's no excuse. "When two of the best teams in the world collide, one of them is going to win convincingly. Last time we came back. This time England didn't give us anything at all.

"It's quite rare that if you play with that strike rate and give no chances. It shows the quality of batting."

Kohli, however, was happy with the batting effort of his team, especially centurion KL Rahul (108 off 114), Rishabh Pant (77 off just 40) and Hardik Pandya (35 off 16). "We lost two wickets early on and needed a partnership. That happened with KL and me. KL carried on, really happy for him. Then Rishabh changed the game, and Hardik finished it off as well," said the India skipper, who scored 66 off 79.

Kohli has been scoring crucial fifties in the ongoing white-ball series but a century has eluded him so far. Asked if he ever gave it a thought, Kohli said: "I never played for 100s in my life, that's probably why I ended up getting so many (70) in such little time. "It's all about contributing to the team cause. If the team doesn't win when you get three figures it doesn't mean anything. You're not going to sit back at the end of your career and look at numbers, it's more about how you played the game."

England skipper Jos Buttler was delighted at the way his team made a comeback after losing the opening ODI by 66 runs. "I think the most pleasing thing for us as a team is we didn't go away from our values as a team. We were bitterly disappointed after the first ODI," he said.

"Great chase and happy we were able to go over the line fairly easily despite India putting up a big total."

Buttler said his team didn't move away from their brand of aggressive cricket despite the loss. "Better wicket to be honest but we don't really fear any totals to be honest. It could have been easy to rein ourselves in after the last game but from a personal and team point of view, it was important to play as we do," he said.

Adjudged Man of the Match for his 112-ball 124, Jonny Bairstow said it was good to get to three figures after missing out the last time. "Disappointed to miss out in the last game, delighted to get over the line in this one," said the England opener, who had scored 94 in the first ODI.

"The thought process was the same like the last game, exactly the same game plan. Ben played some entertaining strokes down the ground, Jason (Roy) was going all guns blazing at the top. 

"They bowled well at the start, especially Bhuvi. The relationship we (Bairstow and Roy) got at the top of the order is great, hopefully, it continues. The shot I played over deep cover, I enjoyed that the most."

'Part of workload management'

Kohli said star all-rounder Hardik Pandya has not bowled in the ongoing ODI series as part of his workload management ahead of crucial assignments like the tour of England later this year. Pandya had bowled well in the T20I series, giving India an extra option. In ODIs, India have stuck to the usual five-bowler strategy.

The series is currently tied 1-1 after England chased down 337 in the second ODI here on Friday with Jonny Bairstow (124) and Ben Stokes (99) combining to decimate the home attack. "We need to manage his (Hardik) body. Need to understand where we need this skill set. (We) did utilise him in the T20Is but in the ODIs, it's about managing his workload," Kohli said in the post-match presentation.

"We have Test cricket in England coming up too. So it's important for us to have him fit," added Kohli, hinting that Pandya could be in the scheme of things for that high-profile series in August. The 27-year-old Pandya underwent a back surgery in October 2019 and made a comeback with the IPL last year but did not bowl.

He did bowl once during the limited overs series in Australia but that was that. He was part of the Test squad for the home series against England and used the time on the sidelines to get ready for his full fledged bowling comeback with the T20s.

He last played Test cricket for India back in 2018, incidentally in England. His appearances in the longest format add up to only 11.

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India vs EnglandEngland tour of India, 2021EnglandIndiaJonny BairstowBen StokesVirat Kohli

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