India v England 2nd ODI: Bairstow and Stokes blow the hosts away - Barmy Army Menu
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India v England 2nd ODI: Bairstow and Stokes blow the hosts away

A brutal display of batting from Jonny Bairstow and Ben Stokes helped England chase down 327 with ease to pull the ODI series level ahead of Sunday’s decider.

Bairstow anchored the innings with a magnificent 124, bringing up his 11th ODI century in the process, while Stokes was unfortunate to fall on 99 – having accelerated to the score from 50 in just 11 balls.

With Eoin Morgan and Sam Billings missing due to the injuries they sustained in the game on Tuesday, Jos Buttler captained the side while both debutant Liam Livingstone and Dawid Malan were drafted into the XI alongside Reece Topley who replaced Mark Wood.

Buttler continued England’s impressive run of toss wins and opted to bowl first, with Topley removing Shikhar Dhawan in his second over.

When Rohit Sharma clipped Sam Curran to Adil Rashid at short fine leg the tourists looked in control but on a good batting pitch, Virat Kohli and KL Rahul fought back.

Rashid eventually did for the Indian skipper, who nicked one to Buttler, with the leg-spinner continuing his dominance over him – now only Tim Southee has dismissed him more times (Ali Martin).

But the wicket didn’t stop India’s momentum with Rahul bringing up a century and celebrating by putting his fingers in his ears in what seemed like a message to the doubters in the media, while Rishabh Pant raced to 50 himself.

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When those two fell we were left with a fantastic contest as at one point both Tom and Sam Curran were bowling while Hardik and Krunal Pandya were batting.

Topley returned at the death impressively but India moved past 300 before their 50 overs were up, setting England 327 to win.

It’s impossible not to feel confident when you see Bairstow and Jason Roy strutting to the crease and they were in outstanding form once again.

The duo are surely the greatest ODI opening partnership of all time and made yet another century partnership to kick off England’s run chase.

It took a run-out from a mixup and a smart bit of India fielding to break them up at 110/1, though the arrival of Ben Stokes provided little respite.

Up to three in the absence of Joe Root, England’s fiery all-rounder was in a belligerent mood from the get-go with bat in hand and alongside Bairstow, they kept Buttler’s side well ahead of the rate.

He benefitted from a rare third umpire decision going our way in what looked very, very right run out call and certainly made the most of being handed a second life.

Bairstow brought up his 11th century in style before taking the backseat and letting Stokes produce the sort of spell that only he can.

The left-hander unleashed with the bat, moving between 50 and 99 in a remarkable 11 balls before falling unlucky short of a century himself by gloving one behind – meaning he fell just short of the second-fastest ODI century by an Englishman.

Bairstow fell not long after before a brilliant yorker did for Buttler but just as the Indians seemed to be gaining in confidence, Livingstone took the game away from them with some fantastic hitting of his own.

In the end, he and Malan helped England over the line at a canter as they won by six wickets with 39 balls remaining to level the series.

What a fantastic prospect Sunday’s game looks now as we look to end the tour in style.