AFP| Joe Root’s composed hundred laid the platform for England’s 86-run win over India in the second one-day international at Lord’s on Saturday.
Victory saw 2019 World Cup hosts England, first in the ODI rankings to India’s second, level the three-match series at 1-1 ahead of Tuesday’s finale at Headingley — Root’s Yorkshire home ground.
Test skipper Root’s 113, allied to fifties from white-ball captain Eoin Morgan and David Willey, guided England to 322 for seven.
This was significantly more than their 268 all out during an eight-wicket loss in Thursday’s series-opener at Trent Bridge and meant even India’s powerful batting line-up faced a degree of scoreboard pressure.
England’s pacemen then followed up by reducing India to 60 for three before they were all out for 236, with fast bowler Liam Plunkett taking four for 46.
Rohit Sharma, fresh from back-to-back hundreds, including a superb 137 not out on Thursday, and Shikhar Dhawan shared a brisk first-wicket stand of 49.
But England were gifted a breakthrough when Sharma (15) was bowled by fast bowler Mark Wood after an ugly slog across the line.
Dhawan made a rapid 36, including six fours, before carving a wide ball from left-arm quick Willey to Ben Stokes at backward point.
KL Rahul then fell for a duck when he was brilliantly caught by wicket-keeper Jos Buttler, who dived low to his left to hold an inside edge off Plunkett.
But while India captain Virat Kohli, one of the world’s leading batsmen, and Suresh Raina were at the crease, the tourists’ hopes were intact.
India needed at least one of the duo, however, to make a really big score but instead they both fell in the 40s.
Kohli’s patient 45, featuring just two fours, ended when he played across the line to a Moeen Ali off-break that kept low and was plumb lbw.
With the run-rate climbing, leg-spinner Adil Rashid, who took an impressive two for 38 in 10 overs, bowled Raina for 46 with a ball that spun past the left-hander’s intended sweep.
And when Buttler, diving well down the legside, caught the big-hitting Hardik Pandya (21) off Plunkett, India were deep in trouble at 191 for six with 11 overs left.
With India’s situation increasingly desperate, MS Dhoni (37) holed out off Plunkett before Yuzvendra Chahal was out off the last ball of India’s 50 overs.
– Root shows his class –
England fans among a packed crowd at a sunny Lord’s might have feared the worst when India left-arm wrist-spinner Kuldeep Yadav, who finished with stunning figures of six for 25 at Trent Bridge, again took early wickets.
As he had done in Nottingham, Kuldeep struck with the second ball of his first over but this time his final figures were a more modest three for 68 after again removing openers Jonny Bairstow (38) and Jason Roy (40).
This time Bairstow was unlucky to see the ball deflect off both his pad and the back of his bat before hitting the stumps.
Roy fell when he slog-swept straight to Umesh Yadav at deep midwicket.
Kuldeep had taken two wickets for nine runs in 12 balls and England were 86 for two.
But the watchful Root, who was dropped for the final match of the preceding Twenty20 series, and Morgan kept Kuldeep at bay.
Root completed a 56-ball fifty and Morgan, who won the toss, followed him to the landmark in 49 balls.
But left-hander Morgan failed to press on, falling for 53 when he holed out off a Kuldeep full-toss to end a third-wicket stand of 103.
England dangermen Stokes and Buttler managed just nine runs between them.
Root, however, held firm, completing a 109-ball century and then hoisting Pandya for six over midwicket.
Willey has not had many chances to showcase his batting ability in a strong England side.
But the son of former England batsman Peter Willey, took his opportunity on Saturday with a maiden ODI fifty off just 30 balls, including five fours and a six, before Root was run out off the last ball of the innings.