37th over: England 219-2 (Root 78, Morgan 73) Back comes Bhuvi Kumar, as Kohli fiddles with the stable door and the horse heads off into the distance. That’s drinks, with England needing only 38 off 13 overs, at a rate fractionally below three. I’m not sure they could mess this up if they were managed by Sam Allardyce.
And here’s Ian Copestake. “Can cricket be used to explain Brexit, or used to cure the divisions?” he wonders. “Do Brexiters despair watching English Indian fans at Headingley (and elsewhere)? I think I have answered my own questions. Carry on.”
36th over: England 213-2 (Root 75, Morgan 70) Another decent over from Kuldeep, but decency is not enough. It’s all over bar the presentation.
35th over: England 210-2 (Root 74, Morgan 69) Reprieved by the no-ball, Root celebrates with a lofted on-drive for four to leave Chahal nursing some wounded pride and figures of 10-0-41-0.
It’s a no-ball. Got to feel for Chahal there – it would have been out.
Mid-35th over: England 200-2 (Root 68, Morgan 69) Morgan thumps the first ball of Chahal’s last over for four to deep square, only to be beaten by a beauty that turns like something out of a song by Duckworth-Lewis. Then there’s a review for a stumping against Root…
34th over: England 196-2 (Root 68, Morgan 64) A better over from Kuldeep, who has answered the commentators’ plea and dropped his pace below 50. His series average, once in single figures, has ballooned to 15.
33rd over: England 193-2 (Root 67, Morgan 62) A few more singles off Chahal, who has kept the boundaries down, to just two off his nine overs, without providing the cutting edge that India were crying out for.
“Brexit metaphors?” snorts Ravi Nair. “Brexit is going as well as an eggless flourless cake being cooked by focussed sunlight in an Antarctic winter snowstorm.”
32nd over: England 188-2 (Root 65, Morgan 59) Kuldeep returns too, but he has gone from a magician to something manageable. England’s two captains take four off the over, which is now marginally more than they need.
An email entitled “Machines of doom” arrives. It’s Brian Withington. “Would that dastardly Fate-Tempt-o-Meter [27th over] share any design features with the Mockers-Max-o-Matic (patent pending)?” Ha.
31st over: England 184-2 (Root 62, Morgan 58) Chahal commands respect, as he has all afternoon, without finding the breakthrough. In the absence of a decent contest, we need a new topic of conversation. How do you feel Brexit is going, then?
30th over: England 181-2 (Root 60, Morgan 57) Morgan plays a pull for four off Thakur, who is then a touch unlucky as he persuades Root to edge a leg-glance and Dhoni misses a half-chance. That looks like that, but Kohli is trying spin again.
29th over: England 175-2 (Root 59, Morgan 52) Root drives Pandya, loosely but not dangerously, to third man, to bring up the hundred partnership off 119 balls. It’s the second game in a row that Morgan and Root have done that. Root is heading for Man of the Series, but Morgan would be just as good a choice, after that brave decision to bat first at Lord’s.
28th over: England 170-2 (Root 58, Morgan 50) Morgan, noticing that there’s no slip for poor old Thakur, plays a dinky deflection for four. A couple of singles later, he plays a more full-blooded shot outside off to reach fifty off 58 balls. Come on India, do something.
27th over: England 165-2 (Root 57, Morgan 43) Back comes Pandya, who doesn’t concede a boundary. The trouble is, it’s all about wickets now. Only a classic English collapse will do, and there’s no sign of one – at the risk of setting off what was known in the press box during the 2005 Ashes as the Fate-Tempt-o-meter.
26th over: England 159-2 (Root 55, Morgan 40) Thakur continues, for reasons I can’t explain, and Morgan helps himself to a cut that is more of a shredding.
And here’s Kimberley Thonger again. “Hugely impressed with John Starbucks’ filmic knowledge [19th over]. Have started plagiarism action against Lasse Halleström, the movie’s director, although due diligence suggests if he’s prepared to settle out of court he could be an excellent reserve wicketkeeper for the tour, and could make a fly on the igloo wall documentary to boot, thus immortalising the actual combatants.”
25th over: England 152-2 (Root 54, Morgan 35) Root, spotting Kuldeep’s length early again, takes a big confident stride and cover-drives for four to bring up yet another fifty, his 41st in 116 ODIs (including the 12 hundreds). Morgan, not to be outdone, whacks a straight four with a shot that’s straight off the hockey field, all eye and wrist and self-belief.
24th over: England 143-2 (Root 49, Morgan 31) Kohli, in desperation, goes back to seam in the form of Thakur. He concedes a few singles and when he tries a bouncer, it’s given as a wide, which rather sums up India’s day. They need to manufacture a wicket, by hook or by crook: then they’re down to Ben Stokes, who is well out of form.
23rd over: England 138-2 (Root 47, Morgan 29) Kuldeep returns, and after a couple of dots Root plays a classy sweep, all along the ground and fine enough to beat short fine leg.
“Afternoon Tim.” Afternoon, Nick Parish. “This is a slightly different riff – obviously this is a terrible cover but it firmly crosses over into ‘so bad it’s good’ territory. After all, who wouldn’t want to hear Lemmy singing about how hard it is to be a woman on this cover of Stand By Your Man?” Who indeed.
22nd over: England 134-2 (Root 43, Morgan 29) Chahal keeps it tight again. He’s conceded only 21 off seven overs, but he hasn’t been able to give Kohli the one thing he craves: a wicket.
21st over: England 131-2 (Root 41, Morgan 28) Morgan, facing Raina again, is like a man returning to the hotel buffet. He gives himself room outside off to play a lofted cover drive, and follows it up with something more orthodox, and just as clinical, in the same direction.
“Here’s the link,” says John Starbuck [previous over].
20th over: England 121-2 (Root 40, Morgan 19) A tidier over from Chahal, but it will take more than tidiness to turn this round.
19th over: England 119-2 (Root 39, Morgan 18) Kohli turns to his third spinner, Raina – the option Morgan didn’t go for with Root. Raina drops too short and after Root misses out, Morgan thumps him to the square-leg fence. That’s drinks, with England nearly half-way to a big win.
And John Starbuck is back for another spell. “If Kimberley Thonger [11th over] wants to know what a Nordic version of ‘I’ve got a lovely bunch of coconuts’ sounds like, he should check out the film My Life as a Dog (1985), where the Swedish version is the only record played.”
18th over: England 112-2 (Root 38, Morgan 12) Chahal half-deceives Morgan, twice, but fortune is favouring England after their bold start.
“Afternoon Tim.” Afternoon, Brian Withington, where on earth have you been? “Talking of Iceland and cover versions, you would need to travel a very long way indeed to find a better cover of anything than this collaboration between Todmobile and Jon Anderson. Like a Vince cover drive on a sunny afternoon – sublime.”
17th over: England 112-2 (Root 38, Morgan 12) More of the same. Kohli is trying to make something happen, but it’s just not working: the spin twins have none for 38 off eight overs.
16th over: England 108-2 (Root 35, Morgan 11) Root plays an uppish tuck, not unlike the one that did for Bairstow, but he evades the man at midwicket. He’s motoring along at a run a ball, right back in form.
15th over: England 103-2 (Root 31, Morgan 10) The Indians have been guilty of a few misfields and another one brings Root two overthrows, to turn a single into three. Morgan feels relaxed enough to pull out the reverse sweep, which brings another three, and that’s the hundred up, off 88 balls. England are well on top, but they still have a wobble in them.
14th over: England 96-2 (Root 27, Morgan 7) Root, using his feet like a dancer, spies a low full toss from Chahal and sweeps it for four. That’s five overs of spin that England have survived already, and they’ve taken 22 off them, which is all they need.
13th over: England 91-2 (Root 22, Morgan 7) Root is continuing with the masterclass in footwork that he began at Lord’s. He goes right forward to cover-drive Kuldeep for four, then right back to work him to midwicket’s right.
A tweet from Ravi Nair. “If we’re talking about cover versions of cricketers [8th over], then the grand daddy of them all is Sachin Tendulkar as the cover version of Sunil Gavaskar – The Little Master handing the baton over to the Little Master.” A rare case of the cover being even better than the original. Like Tainted Love.
12th over: England 85-2 (Root 17, Morgan 6) Chahal has another shout for LBW against Morgan, but his leg-break is doing a bit too much. But he gets a moral victory, and a row of five dots before Morgan pushes up to long-on.
11th over: England 84-2 (Root 17, Morgan 5) Kohli, spotting that England only need four and a half an over, goes for spin at both ends. Root seizes on a short one from Kuldeep, goes right back and somehow pulls it for four without hitting his wicket.
Meanwhile Kimberley Thonger is getting ever keen on the idea of an Icelandic tour. “Combining the Iceland and cover version themes, I vouchsafe the proposed touring side team song could be I’ve Got A Luvverly Bunch Of Coconuts in a Björk style, accompanied by Sigur Rós on the marimba.”
10th over: England 78-2 (Root 12, Morgan 4) Chahal’s first over has it all: the run-out, a strong shout for LBW as Morgan misses a big leg-break (off-break to him), and then a cracking four as Morgan latches onto a long hop. “Indian curry,” says a banner, “make England worry.”
Wicket! Vince run out 27 (England 74-2)
It was tight, but not tight enough to save Vince, who was undone by some smart work from Dhoni, grabbing a throw and flattening the stumps in one motion. So Dhoni redeems himself, and poor old Vince, who hesitated fatally after Root’s call, is left to rue yet another elegant 20-odd.
An appeal for run out against Vince, which looks very tight.
9th over: England 74-1 (Vince 27, Root 12) Root pulls Thakur for an imperious four, then takes a single and tells Vince that Thakur has resorted to cutters. Kohli is so grumpy that he’s off the field, presumably discussing what the hell he can do next. It looks straightforward from here: either the Indian spinners rip through England, or the series is lost. It’s all down to Kuldeep and Chahal.
8th over: England 67-1 (Vince 26, Root 5) Vince at his Vinceyest, standing up straight and creaming an off-drive, before going back to whip to long leg. Kumar has now gone for eight fours off four overs, and to add insult to insult, Dhoni is standing up to him.
“My brain has been trying to take the intersection of cricket and cover versions to a new level,” says Peter Salmon, “by thinking about cricketers who are cover versions of earlier cricketers.” Nice. “For instance it seems that it is the law that you can’t talk about Josh Hazlewood without mentioning Glenn McGrath. When James Vince came into the side he was always shackled to Michael Vaughan. Abdul Qadir and Mushtaq Ahmed. Any others?”
7th over: England 57-1 (Vince 17, Root 5) Root at his Rootiest, going up on his toes to subject a perfectly respectable ball from Thakur to his back-foot caress for four. That brings the fifty up off 38 balls, and it’s followed by four leg byes as Dhoni adds a bit of incompetence to his intransigence. Has he lost it, do you think?
6th over: England 49-1 (Vince 17, Root 1) Joe Root nearly perishes to a comedy run-out – Vince’s revenge, perhaps, for being made to bat at three in Australia. Then Vince has a near-miss too, playing a Harrow cut for four. A better over from Kumar, who has changed ends in a bid to shake off the rust.
5th over: England 43-1 (Vince 12, Root 0) So Kohli was rushed into his first bowling change, but it worked, as Shardul Thakur nabbed the big wicket. Game on.
John Starbuck’s mention of possible tour of Iceland gets Kimberley Thonger going. “If there’s a requirement for a short portly military medium right arm over with Devon Malcolm tendencies in the batting department, I’m your man,” he says, irresistibly. “Available weekends until 18th December when I’m assisting SWMBO on a Hapsburg historical research venture in Segovia.”
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