Stokes questions India’s approach in World Cup defeat against England

Published May 29, 2020
India's Mahendra Singh Dhoni plays a shot during the 2019 Cricket World Cup group stage match between England and India at Edgbaston in Birmingham, central England, on June 30, 2019. — AFP/File
India's Mahendra Singh Dhoni plays a shot during the 2019 Cricket World Cup group stage match between England and India at Edgbaston in Birmingham, central England, on June 30, 2019. — AFP/File

LONDON: England all-rounder Ben Stokes has opened up on one of the most controversial games of the 2019 World Cup. In his new book On Fire, the all-rounder has expressed that he was startled by India’s approach in chasing 338 against England at Edgbaston, Birmingham.

The lack of intent from their ‘finisher’ M.S. Dhoni combined with Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma’s plan surprised him the most.

In a mammoth run-chase of 338, India were restricted to 306 for the loss of only five wickets. England’s new-ball bowlers Chris Woakes and Jofra Archer kept it tight from the get-go to keep India in check.

The partnership of 138 runs between Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli consumed 38 overs after Woakes claimed the wicket of KL Rahul early on. The departure of Sharma, Kohli, and Hardik Pandya significantly slowed down India’s progress.

Ben Stokes was baffled at Dhoni’s approach of taking singles even as his side needed 112 from the last 11 overs. He felt that even with a dozen balls India could have won; however, there was no intent from either Dhoni or Kedar Jadhav.

The 28-year old believes that if the victory seems in sight, one should take the risk. Criticisms also followed from Pakistan, who accused India of losing the game knowingly to deter their chances of making into the knockouts.

“Arguably, the way Dhoni played when he came in with 112 runs needed from 11 overs was even stranger. He appeared more intent on singles than sixes. Even with a dozen balls remaining, India could still have won. There was little or no intent from him [Dhoni] or his partner Kedar Jadhav. To me, while victory is still possible you always go for broke.” the New Zealand-born Stokes wrote in his book as quoted by the Times of India.

To add to the earlier criticism of Kohli’s ‘59-metre boundary’ statement, the 28-year old couldn’t believe their captain’s and vice-captain’s tactics.

Stokes appreciated the efforts of their bowlers. However, it didn’t seem as if India had any desire to put pressure on the hosts. According to the all-rounder, their strategy was more in favour of England than of India.

Published in Dawn, May 29th, 2020

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