Shikhar Dhawan (98) and Virat Kohli (56) might have set the platform at the top, but it was KL Rahul (62*) and Krunal Pandya's (58*) blitz in the end that propelled India's score to 317/5 against England in the first ODI of three-match series on Tuesday here at the Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium in Pune.
The duo added 111 of their 112 runs in the last nine overs as they sent the English bowlers on a leather hunt. The 57-ball partnership saw the Indians switch gears and take the driver's seat on a day when England suffered twin injuries while fielding -- Sam Billings sprained his collar bone joint and Eoin Morgan split the webbing between his right thumb and index finger and had four stitches.
Asked to bat first, India got off to a cautious start as openers Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan put on 39 runs inside the first ten overs. The score would have been more but England's ground-fielding was up to the mark and the visitors clearly saved 20 runs in the first ten.
Ben Stokes, who was playing his first ODI after the 2019 World Cup final against New Zealand, provided the first breakthrough to England as he had Rohit (28) caught at the hands of wicketkeeper Jos Buttler in the 16th over of the innings, ending the opening partnership of 64. Stokes had bowled a wide half-volley and had the right-handed Rohit left it, it would have probably been called a wide. But the batsman went after it and he ended up edging the ball.
Skipper Virat Kohli next joined Dhawan in the middle and the duo started accumulating runs at a brisk pace. The left-handed Dhawan started off the 24th over with a six and as a result, he brought up his half-century. Both Kohli and Dhawan put on 105 runs for the second wicket, and it also saw Kohli going past his 50. But in trying to accelerate further, skipper Kohli (56) ended up giving his wicket away to Mark Wood, reducing hosts to 169/2 in the 33rd over.
Shreyas Iyer, who came out to bat at number four, was not able to impress with the bat and he departed after scoring just six runs. England managed to bog down Dhawan when the left-handed was in his 90s, and this brought about his dismissal in the 39th over. The left-handed Dhawan (98) went for a pull shot off the bowling of Stokes, but he ended up handing a simple catch to Morgan at mid-wicket, reducing India to 197/4.
Soon after, Hardik Pandya (1) also ended up giving his wicket to Stokes and this left the hosts in a spot of bother with 9.3 overs still left in the innings. Making his debut, Krunal did now show any nerves and he smashed boundaries consistently to help India rocket along in the final overs. The left-hander also registered a half-century in his first ODI and he created the record for the fastest fifty scored by a debutant in ODI cricket -- 26 balls.
In the final five overs, the hosts managed to score 67 more runs and India cruised past the 300-run mark. Krunal and Rahul clearly took the English bowlers by surprise as they kept matching each other shot for shot.
Brief Scores: India 317/5 (Shikhar Dhawan 98, KL Rahul 62*, Krunal Pandya 58*; Ben Stokes 3-34) vs England.
( With inputs from ANI )
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