This post is devoted to the events of yesterday’s final and deciding ODI between India and England.
England decided to retain both Malan and Livingstone, so Billings missed out. They also opted to replace Tom Curran with Mark Wood, a decision that would have been indisputable had Wood been fully fit, but it rapidly became clear that he was not. India replaced Kuldeep Yadav with T Natarajan, changing the balance of their bowling attack. Jos Buttler won the toss and decided to bowl.
THE INDIAN INNINGS
India got off to a flying start, with Sam Curran and Reece Topley both somewhat wayward. Mark Wood bowled fast in spite of obviously not being well. It took the arrival of the spinners Adil Rashid and Moeen Ali at the bowling crease to stem the flow at all. Rashid accounted for both openers, one bowled and one caught and bowled, in successive overs, while Ali clean bowled Virat Kohli. Liam Livingstone had made his first contribution to the game with a fine piece of fielding out on the boundary that saved two runs. KL Rahul and Rishabh Pant maintained the momentum and for a while it looked like something close to 400 was on for India, but then Livingstone got Rahul, as the batter could only put a filthy full toss straight into the hands of a fielder. Thereafter England picked up wickets regularly, and India were all out for 329 in the 49th over. At that stage it looked anyone’s game, with England possibly favourites.
THE ENGLAND REPLY
For once neither Roy nor Bairstow managed a substantial score, and Stokes and Buttler both also went fairly cheaply. At that stage it was 95-4 and England looked in deep trouble. Livingstone and Malan batted well however and at the end of the 20th England were 132-4, two fifths of the way to the target after two fifths of the overs and having lost two fifths of their wickets. Livingstone was fifth out, having batted well, and then Malan having completed a fine 50 was sixth to go. That brought Sam Curran in join Moeen Ali, with England in deep trouble. At the end of the 30th England were 196-6. Moeen Ali’s departure seemed to be the final nail, but Rashid provided Curran support, and then extraordinarily, Mark Wood, for all that he was obviously not well, continued the support work, while Curran was playing a very special innings. Wood was ninth out, but even Topley, the most genuine of genuine number 11s, did his bit, and at the end of the 49th England were 316-9 needing 14 to win, and crucially Curran was at the strikers end. He did his best, but the task was just too much, and England were beaten by seven runs, with Curran 95 not out off 83 balls.
PLAYER OF THE MATCH
Sam Curran was named Player of the Match for his fighting knock, a decision which Indian skipper Kohli disapproved of. Shardul Thakur with 30 and four wickets was the obvious alternative candidate, and normally I would say that this award should go to someone from the winning side. However, at the point at which Curran came in to bat England were staring an absolute hammering in the face, with a three figure margin looking likely, and Curran turned that around to the extent that the game ended as a nail biter. Also most of Curran’s batting was done with the support of a no9, a sick no10 and a n011. Thus on this occasion I think the decision to give the award to someone from the losing side was justified, although I would not have quarrelled with the award going to Thakur.
This match was conducted at a tempo that to borrow from the world of music could only fairly be described as ‘adagio molto’ – very slow. 100 overs occupied eight and a quarter hours of actual playing time, with England being in the field for three hours fifty minutes and India for four hours twenty five minutes. This leads me to revisit an old idea of mine in slightly revised form: based on the 15 overs per hour officially required in test matches I would allocate each team a fixed time slot to bowl their overs of three hours and 20 minutes, and for each over they have not bowled in that period the batting team get awarded penalty runs at a rate of ten per over or double the scoring rate, whichever is the greater. Obviously umpires would have to watch out for batters deliberately wasting time in the hope of securing penalty runs. If this was adopted there might be one ODI series/ tournament in which extras had a Bradmanesque aggregate but I reckon over rates would speed up pretty quickly. Here is a very famous slow tempo piece of music, Albinoni’s “Adagio for Organ and Strings”, from youtube:
My usual sign off…