England batters must take charge of ODI decider with Kohli due to big score | England cricket team

JThe Heir Summer may not have caught fire like their resurgent Test equivalents yet, but after Reece Topley crossed India at Lord’s during the week, England’s white ball men are heading for a attractive international decision maker for a day.

Old Trafford are hosts on Sunday, with the ground exhausted, the Mercury pegged at the top 30C and Jos Buttler (perhaps unrecognizable to Lancashire supporters these days) looking for his first series win as captain of England’s white ball. If he can do that against a side with in-form Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Shami, any early worries about life after Eoin Morgan should evaporate faster than Nadhim Zahawi’s support for Boris Johnson.

However, it may be necessary for the English thunderbolts to reassert themselves a little. The first five World Cup winners did not draw in the first two ODIs and it was the supporting cast that made it 1-1. Moeen Ali’s 47 was as vital as it was icy, as was David Willey’s 41. Topley then stepped up the ball impressively.

Topley’s figures of six for 24 from 9.5 overs were not just the best for England in men’s ODIs, but an encouraging story to go with it. The attributes of the left arm are alluring, be it the ability to swing the ball, the angle or the rebound of his 6ft 7in frame (something that may suit Old Trafford). But his body – primarily his back and the scourge of stress fractures – has been horribly rebellious over the years.

So much so that in 2018, crushed by the repeated injections required just to enter the park, he felt he was “rotting” and told Hampshire, then his county, he was done.

“These are the times that are worth it,” he said, beaming on Thursday, after giving her one last crack via surgery and being rewarded for months of rehabilitation with a place on the honors roll of the Lord. “It’s an amazing high. I’m going to ride the wave but there’s still everything to play for.

Virat Kohli hasn’t scored a century in 77 international innings, but his clean shots suggest the run could soon be over. Photography: Ed Sykes/Action Images/Reuters

India, meanwhile, return to the scene of their ruinous World Cup semi-final collapse against New Zealand in 2019, but win here and they will have taken the spoils in the 50-over and Twenty20 stages. of this tour. Factor in last summer’s dominance before the Test break – even though he was stuck in the Bazball mixer a fortnight ago for a 2-2 draw – and that would represent a successful spell in the UK over the past 12 months.

Back home, there is only one talking point: Virat Kohli having gone 32 months and 77 innings without an international century. From the outside, it’s a curious drought considering some of the clean shots deployed in the Test match at Edgbaston or his sweet 16 at Lord’s the other night. Looking at the 33-year-old’s body language on the pitch, the fire in his stomach also appears intact.

Yet somehow the misjudgments keep coming, like Willey’s ball at Lord’s that rolled slightly downhill and tickled the rim with a lukewarm shot. It was good work from the left arm but – perhaps – the blow of a mind that needed a break. Since the start of 2016, Kohli has made 225 international appearances in all formats – 10% more than neighbor Rohit Sharma – and has spent most of that time as captain.

Considering the pressure cooker that is Indian cricket, the strains of the pandemic, its extensive business demands and its fatherhood, this lull probably shouldn’t come as a complete surprise. Free time is approaching, at least, with Kohli and Bumrah heading home when their teammates begin an eight-game limited tour of the Caribbean next week. Who knows, maybe sick of the debate and the unctuous well-wishers, Kohli will unleash a defiant final round before boarding that flight.

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Following India’s departure, the English side play six matches against South Africa, starting in Durham on Tuesday, with the first of three ODIs. The Proteas arrived as the cause of the sport’s latest angst after scrapping a three-game ODI series in Australia next year – and thus giving up potentially vital World Cup qualifying points – to their board’s latest move to organize a franchised Twenty20 league. It’s a bet.

But that’s the new reality then, with the next future touring schedule allowing more time for such bilateral tournaments and ODIs, like Sunday’s series finale, looking in jeopardy. That said, the ICC has planned more than 50 men’s World Cups for 2023, 2027 and 2031 – as well as two editions of the Lazarus-type Champions Trophy in 2025 and 2029 – and so total extinction remains far from over. .

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