David Willey's sparkling maiden ODI 50 displays England's batting depth
Joe Root finds way to negate Kuldeep Yadav as England draw level in series and make Tuesday's clash with India in Leeds a decider
By David Ruse
Last Updated: 15/07/18 2:37pm
David Willey can sometimes feel likes a bit-part player for England but at Lord's he was one of their most important.
Willey had only bowled his full allocation of 10 overs eight times in his 40 ODIs prior to Saturday's fixture, with skipper Eoin Morgan often looking elsewhere once any early-innings swing has dissipated.
The all-rounder often struggles to make vital contributions with the bat, too, with England's power-packed line-up frequently ensuring he only comes in for a late dart from the No 8 berth.
Willey bowled his full 10 at HQ, though - removing Shikhar Dhawan as the India opener threatened to go on and get a big score and then completing an 86-run victory for England by having last man Yuzvendra Chahal caught at long-on to finish with figures of 2-48 on a swing-less day.
But it was his 31-ball impact with the blade that proved most valuable.
When he came to the crease, England were 239-6 in the 42nd over and looking in danger of falling short of 300 for the second game running.
When he walked off, they had set India 323 for victory, a total that ultimately proved beyond the tourists, thanks to four wickets for Liam Plunkett, a cracking one-handed catch from Jos Buttler behind the stumps and a peculiarly ponderous innings from MS Dhoni.
The Yorkshire star dominated an 83-run stand with Joe Root for the seventh wicket in 8.2 overs, reaching his maiden ODI fifty from 30 balls.
Willey began his onslaught against the headband-wearing Siddarth Kaul in the 46th over, with cow corner, deep midwicket and square leg his favourite areas to blaze the ball as he finished his innings with five fours and a six and ended England's with a flourish.
What it reaffirmed is the depth England are dealing with in their one-day side - their No 8 is often a top-order performer in Yorkshire's white-ball set-up. With this England batting cabal, someone can always get you.
India would have expected to restrict the hosts once Eoin Morgan (53) was back in the shed and Buttler (4), Ben Stokes (5) and Moeen Ali (13) failed to ignite in the middle order, but Willey gave England a second wind, in an innings glued together by Root (113 off 116 balls).
Root matched Marcus Trescothick's record of 12 ODI centuries for England and, in a week where he was dropped for the T20 decider against India and had some wondering whether he was a necessity in the 50-over side, proved he is an adhesive Morgan's men cannot do without.
On the day Sky Sports broadcast episode one of a series on the Master Blaster, Sir Vivian Richards, Root showed there is always a spot for master technician in a one-day line-up.
England's Test skipper picked up boundaries, ones and twos with supreme timing - something that had just deserted him a tad over recent weeks - with neat clips off his toes, cover drives and open-faced steers behind point, with the added panache when he thudded Umesh Yadav for six.
What may please England most, though, is the way he dealt with Kuldeep Yadav, who seems all-but-certain to be picked in India's Test squad and perhaps even the starting XI at Edgbaston on August 1.
Root walked past a delivery from the left-arm wrist-spinner in the opening T20 at Old Trafford to fall first ball and then failed to pick him at Trent Bridge on Tuesday to be pinned lbw for three as Kuldeep scythed through the home side - England failing to hit a boundary off him in 10 overs.
Yet, manipulation of strike, being busy and looking to score off Kuldeep and not just survive worked out well for Root in the capital. It probably explained why the spinner lost his control somewhat and offered up a few juicy wide deliveries outside off that Root dispatched with glee.
If everyone else fires in the England team, Willey may go back to being a bit-part player but Root should remain a main man.
As for Kuldeep, after being devastating in Nottingham with 6-25, he was relatively ordinary by comparison at Lord's - sure, he snaffled three wickets but his first flicked Jonny Bairstow's leg and gloves before it disturbed the stumps, while Morgan and Jason Roy were caught on the boundary by men who may not necessarily be stationed there in a Test.
If England keep him quiet again in Leeds on Tuesday, an eighth straight bilateral ODI series win on the spin could be theirs - and so will the belief they can negate Kuldeep in Tests and the 2019 World Cup on home soil, which is now under a year away.
Watch the ODI series decider between England and India, at Headingley, live from 12pm on Tuesday on Sky Sports Cricket (channel 404) and Sky Sports Main Event (channel 401).
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