A game of differing philosophies, impressive debuts and busy physiotherapists ended with India winning the first one-day international in Pune by 66 runs after a harrowing collapse from England’s batsmen under lights.
Things had looked so promising for Eoin Morgan’s world champions as they set about chasing 318 at the Rose Bowl-inspired MCA Stadium. The newcomer Krunal Pandya had swollen the target with an emotional 58 not out but when Jonny Bairstow emerged in bristling form, cracking 94 to go with 46 from Jason Roy, England were 135 for no loss in the 15th over and the remaining runs appeared to be a formality.
Step forward Prasidh Krishna, the 25-year-old seamer who recovered from a chastening start to his first international appearance to finish with figures of four for 54 as England crumbled to 251 all out in 42.1 overs. Losing 10 for 116 was an alarming demise and one that sat in contrast to India’s earlier slow burn, even if Morgan was typically unrepentant afterwards.
“This is the way we play and this is the way we will continue to play,” the England captain said. “Our top seven have all scored under 60-ball hundreds in international cricket – it is something we pride ourselves on, being able to take the attack to the opposition.
“We want to continue to try and push the envelope in that regard and take our game forward. Sometimes that doesn’t work but for us, losing like that is way better than losing by 10 or 20 runs playing in a different manner that doesn’t suit us.”
For all this talk of aggression, the manner of the defeat highlighted the absence of Joe Root. After such a breakneck start, England’s rested Test captain would have been the ideal man to stride out at No 3 and set about chiselling away the rest of the target after Krishna had Roy caught at backward point.
Instead it was Ben Stokes who emerged, fresh from earlier figures of three for 34 with the ball in his first ODI since the 2019 World Cup final and keen to stamp his authority after a low‑key Twenty20 series. The all‑rounder lasted 11 balls, however, handing Krishna a second wicket when a checked drive flew to extra cover.
Having clubbed six fours and seven sixes with some typical bottom‑handed brute force, Bairstow was in no mood to throttle back. But when the Yorkshireman holed out attempting to bring up his 11th ODI century with a flourish, it gave Shardul Thakur the first of three strikes that swung the pendulum back to India.
Morgan was Thakur’s second, surviving a drop by Kohli first ball only to feather a pull shot behind on 22, before Jos Buttler was trapped lbw for two. Although Sam Billings and Moeen Ali offered some resistance, the latter returning to the side with a glossy 30, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Krishna snuffed them out to leave the tail exposed.
This was an undulating game of 50-over cricket and one that resembled a field hospital at times. Morgan split the webbing on his right hand and needed stitches, missing the back end of India’s innings as Krunal Pandya and KL Rahul piled on 112 runs in 61 balls, while Billings jarred his collar bone attempting a tumbling stop in the outfield.
Billings got off lightly compared with India’s Shreyas Iyer, who looks certain to miss the remaining two matches after a similar fall resulted in a partial shoulder dislocation. Rohit Sharma may also be battling for fitness, having struggled to grip the bat after a nasty blow to his right elbow from a Mark Wood thunderbolt.
Sharma’s injury came during a cautious start to proceedings by India. Unlike England, their approach to ODI cricket remains set on laying an initial platform before exploding and though the impeded Sharma fell to a Stokes long hop on 28, opening partner Shikhar Dhawan ploughed on with Kohli (56) in a controlled stand of 105.
With the pitch not helping the spin of Adil Rashid and Moeen, and both Jofra Archer and Chris Woakes back in the UK, Morgan looked short on in the middle overs. But when he turned back to Wood and Stokes India suddenly stuttered from 169 for one in the 33rd over to 205 for five in the 41st.
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Among these was the demise of Dhawan, two runs short of his 18th ODI century when he pulled Stokes to midwicket. Though he had earlier been dropped by Roy on 16 and Moeen on 59, an otherwise fine knock from the left-hander had been prevented from truly accelerating at the back end of the innings.
Not that India squandered Dhawan’s good work, Krunal Pandya following the dismissal of his brother Hardik with a 26-ball half-century on debut that, along with Rahul’s return to form with unbeaten 62, took the total past 300.
This was a stirring display from Pandya in particular and one that brought him to tears during a mid‑game interview as thoughts turned to the father he and Hardik lost in January. The pair embraced on the outfield, with Krunal then regathering his composure and going on to claim the solitary wicket to fall to spin – Sam Curran caught attempting a six – as India went 1-0 up with two to play.