James Taylor and Jos Buttler tamed a tricky pitch as England claimed victory over India in Perth to set up a Tri-Series final against Australia on Sunday.
With India all out for 200 and England at one stage slumping to 66 for 5, runs were at a premium throughout the match. But Taylor and Buttler were the coolest customers on show as they took the initiative with a mature, match-winning stand of 125. Taylor’s 82 was a hard-fought innings, the No 3 digging deep for 122 balls, while Buttler’s 67 off 78 deliveries bristled with intent.
England may yet come to view their success, with 19 balls remaining, as a mixed blessing, with the dominant host nation waiting in Sunday’s showpiece, also at the Waca. Their Ashes nemesis Mitchell Johnson will be back and will have eyed the occasional examples of variable bounce with glee. But for now they can celebrate consecutive wins over India, who have gone 10 matches without victory since arriving Down Under.
While England’s sixth-wicket pair will take the plaudits, the bowling attack was also in rude health. All five took wickets, with Steven Finn’s 3 for 36 continuing his recent renaissance. The way England recovered from their mid-innings wobble also served as a test of character, which they passed.
Taylor said: “In a perfect world it wouldn’t have got that tight – 66 for 5 isn’t ideal – but we showed some real character. It’s a great result for us. We definitely didn’t play our best cricket with the bat but in a tough situation we showed the character to get through it and win the game.”
Taylor’s knock was a triumph of will, with just four boundaries. It was not an innings for the purists but he was proud to have made tough runs on a tricky pitch. “I’m delighted to make a score in a pressure situation. That’s what I pride myself on, finishing games and winning games,” he added. “The way I was playing until 60-odd for 5, I was struggling myself. But I managed to get through that and work the ball around.
“I wasn’t playing my best cricket but I did a job and that’s what I do. It’s not the prettiest but I like to think it’s effective a lot of the time.”
Had Ian Bell got into his stride, England’s chase would surely have been a simple one. He lingered only 13 balls but seemed comfortable until Mohit Sharma persuaded one to stay low for an lbw. That should have been a minor setback but it quickly became apparent that India’s total was competitive.
Moeen Ali made a sketchy 17 before holing out to long-off. Joe Root should have been an ideal candidate to restore calm but lasted just two balls as the innocuous Stuart Binny gathered a simple caught and bowled. Eoin Morgan made just two runs before chipping Binny to mid-on, a soft way for the captain to go, and Ravi Bopara was even more timid in making just four.
Earlier, Indian openers Ajinkya Rahane and Shikhar Dhawan had endured a nervy start but with England bowling a fraction short they were able to hang on. Gradually Rahane and Dhawan wrestled control of the situation, posting 50 in 82 balls and steering their side to the 20-over mark at 83 without loss.
That should have formed the basis of a strong total but all 10 wickets fell for 117 runs, starting when Chris Woakes prised out Dhawan.
India’s long, winless tour is not yet finished, with the small matter of a World Cup still to go, but after 10 matches without success there is a window to gather their thoughts.
“This will be a much-needed break and it will be important for the guys to lock their kit bags and be away from it,” captain M S Dhoni said.Reuse content