CWC19: England vs India – Five Things We Learned

What did we learn from England’s win over India.

There were times when it looked like England would cruise to 400 and might even go for 500, but instead they finished with “just” 337. When an interesting statistic flashed up: India had never chased more than 300 to win in any World Cup match ever, and today they seemed to see it as too many runs.

Outside of World Cups, especially in India, they can chase down 300+ with ease, but not in England, not now, not in a World Cup. All tournament they’ve been getting and chasing scores around 250, and, in spite of not losing too many wickets, they just never looked likely as they were strangled out of the game, and the run rate required just kept getting higher and higher. In the end, MS Dhoni decided to just conserve the net run rate loss rather than to take the required risks at the end.

With 15 runs per over needed, and less than a 3% chance of victory, Dhoni made sure that the margin made it look close, so that, if every other match is washed out, they share the trophy with Australia. It sure looked strange, though, when they finished 5 wickets down and were hitting singles in the last 5 overs when 15 runs per over were required. They didn’t go for 6s or even 4s. They needed 2 boundaries per over to go with those singles but didn’t bother trying and in the end the match was over with 2 overs to go.

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Five Things We Learned:

(1) The best teams can win after all

Ever since Bangladesh shocked South Africa in the early stages of this World Cup, it was all said to be about form, not rankings or having the better team. Bangladesh have a better chance than Pakistan, we were told, because Bangladesh are higher on the table. England have no chance, we were told, because England had lost 2 matches in a row. Well, here we had it, as England, who are a marginally better side than India, and much better outside of the subcontinent, played according to their rankings, not their form, and won quite easily, just as South Africa had done against Sri Lanka. They were upsets, guys, one-off matches where everything went right for one team and wrong for the other.

(2) India can’t chase 300+

India have never chased over 300 to win a World Cup match and that looked obvious in this match as they just looked incapable of lifting their run rate high enough. Sure, we know that in India they can chase over 300, but not in England. So, for any team hoping to beat them, that’s what you do. Bat first and score over 300 and you’ve won. MS Dhoni won’t even try for the runs at the end and will make sure of it. A tip for Bangladesh who have to beat them to keep their slim hopes alive.

(3) Mohammad Shami may look bad but he’s pretty good

There was a clear plan by England to play defensively to Jasprit Bumrah and target Mohammad Shami, which resulted in Shami going for 21 runs off his first 3 overs, but then he conceded just 1 run off his 4th, 1 run and a wicket off his 5th and a wicket maiden off his 6th, and suddenly he had figures of 6-1-23-2 and was going at least than 4 per over. He finished with 10-1-69-5, as he was targeted against in his final 4 overs but took 3 more wickets, for 5 total, as part of it. He used bouncers to get wickets, targeting the aggression, and that was it. It was good bowling as he refused to allow himself to be intimidated. Perhaps England should have had a plan to him too.

(4) Jason Roy makes all the difference

There was a thought to leave Roy out as he was still recovering from injury but having him in the side made all the difference to England’s confidence, which grew the longer that that opening partnership prospered. While there were nervous moments in the middle of the innings, once Ben Stokes came in all of those nerves were settled again.

(5) Sometimes you can’t take risks

We saw with Pakistan’s innings against Afghanistan and again here with India against England, sometimes that run rate required pressure means that you simply can’t lift it. Pakistan were lucky enough to have Gulbadin Naib bowl and concede 18 runs off an over but India had no such luck. England had better plans and better bowlers. While the old adage of being able to accelerate with wickets in hand is usually true, they left themselves too much to do and that one big over never came.

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