Excitement was never in short-supply in another high scoring thriller between India and England at Cuttack on Thursday. Like in Pune, India recovered from the loss of early wickets at Cuttack as well. The difference lay in chasing the target at Pune against setting one at Cuttack. After long, Yuvraj Singh and MS Dhoni brought back old memories of their scintillating partnerships of the years gone by. The most cherished Yuvraj memory took us 6 years back, when India beat Sri Lanka in the 2011 ICC World Cup final at Mumbai and the Punjab star bagged the award for the Player-of-the-World-Cup for his 362 runs and 5 wickets. Yuvraj also scripted his name as only the third player after Aravinda de Silva and Lance Klusener to win four Man-of-the-Match awards in one World Cup. In that World Cup, Yuvraj and Dhoni played 7 innings together in partnerships, scoring 50-plus scores 4 times. In all, they collected a total of 321 runs and remained not out on two occasions. At Cuttack, those moments were brought back, when the two star batsmen took control after India lost 3 wickets for just 25 runs in the 5th over. Both scored centuries and their explosive batting took India to 381/6. However, when everyone thought of an easy victory for India, England batsmen, led by their skipper Eoin Morgan, took the India bull with both its horn and scared Virat Kohli and his men before falling 15 runs short of the target.

England Fight Bravely in Cuttack’s 2nd ODI after Vintage Yuvraj & Dhoni Lift India to 381/6

The Cuttack crowd enjoyed a great day’s play in Thursday’s second ODI between India and England. Like India did at Pune, England captain Eoin Morgan also asked Kohli to bat first after winning the toss. Morgan’s decision looked justified, when KL Rahul, Virat Kohli and Shikhar Dhawan went back to the pavilion by 5th over. As India tottered at 25/3, seasoned campaigners Yuvraj Singh and MS Dhoni assumed command. Putting their disappointing performance of Pune ODI behind them, Yuvraj and Dhoni stayed at the crease for the next 38 overs and completely dominated England bowlers.  The two stars began their swashbuckling act as soon as opening English bowlers ended their first spells. Yuvraj used the room offered by Ben Stokes, Jake Ball’s bowling line was faulty and Liam Plunkett was plundered by Dhoni, who smacked him for three sixes in 48th over. Chris Woakes had laid a great platform for England by taking the first three wickets but he too proved ineffective until he removed Yuvraj in the 43rd over. In between, the celebrated duo of Yuvraj Singh and Dhoni made the most of a flat track, fast outfield and short boundaries. Yuvraj was the dominant partner, whose career-best innings of 150 was peppered with 21 fours and 3 sixes lasting 127 balls. After Yuvraj fell as Woakes’ fourth victim, the unstoppable Dhoni continued and was the last Indian wicket to fall in the 48th over. By then, the ex-India captain had reached a 122-ball 134 with 10 fours and 6 sixes. After Dhoni’s departure, Indian batsmen scored another 23 off the last 12 deliveries to take the total to a monumental 381/6 in 50 overs.

When England came on to chase 382, they stopped thinking about the herculean task ahead of them. Opener Jason Roy took on from where he left at Pune as he blasted the Indian bowlers at will. After he lost his partner Alex Hales, the rollicking Roy was joined by Joe Root, who complemented Roy’s stroke-making with his own. The two of them took England to 128 in the 20th over before Root’s innings of 54 off 55 balls was ended by R Ashwin. However, there was no stopping England as skipper Eoin Morgan came to the crease and began his own blast straightaway. At 170 in the 27th over, Roy fell for a superlative 82 scored off 73 balls. But Morgan was unperturbed and despite also losing Ben Stokes and Jos Buttler cheaply, he continued with Moeen Ali. The sixth wicket stand of 93 between Morgan and Moeen was broken by Bhuvi Kumar but England had already reached 299 by then. Chris Woakes also fell 5 runs later but the mercurial Morgan refused to throw in the towel. From 45th to 49th over, Morgan raised hopes of an English overhaul of India in the company of Liam Plunkett. In the 49th over, however, when England needed 28 off 10 balls, Jaspit Bumrah ran Morgan out. Plunkett faced Bumrah’s Yorker and played back to the bowler but Morgan had already started off and went too far down the track. Bumrah calmly collected the ball and had all the time in the world to dismantle the stumps before Morgan could make his ground. England’s hopes evaporated with Morgan’s unfortunate dismissal and India coasted to a 15 run victory to take an unassailable 2-0 lead in the 3-match series.