England all-rounder Ben Stokes has opened up on one of the most controversial games of the 2019 World Cup. In his new book “On Fire”, the all-rounder has expressed that he was startled by India’s approach in chasing 338 against England at the Edgbaston in Birmingham. The lack of intent from their “finisher” MS Dhoni combined with Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma’s plan surprised him the most.
In a mammoth run-chase of 338, the men in blue got restricted to 306 for the loss of only five wickets. England’s new-ball bowlers Chris Woakes and Jofra Archer kept it tight from the get-go to keep India in check. The partnership of 138 runs between Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli consumed 38 overs after Woakes claimed the wicket of KL Rahul early on. The departure of Rohit, Virat, and Hardik Pandya significantly slowed down India’s progress.
Ben Stokes was baffled at MS Dhoni’s approach of taking singles even as his side needed 112 from the last 11 overs. He felt that even with a dozen balls India could have won; however, there was no intent from either MS Dhoni or Kedar Jadhav. The 28-year old believes that if the victory seems in sight, one should take the risk. Criticisms also followed from Pakistan, who accused India of losing the game knowingly to deter their chances of making into the knockouts.
“Arguably, the way MS Dhoni played when he came in with 112 runs needed from 11 overs was even stranger. He appeared more intent on singles than sixes. Even with a dozen balls remaining, India could still have won. There was little or no intent from him (Dhoni) or his partner Kedar Jadhav. To me, while victory is still possible you always go for broke.” the New Zealand-born wrote in his book as quoted by Times of India.
“They allowed their team to get so far behind the game.” – Ben Stokes on Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli
To add to the earlier criticism of Kohli’s “59-metre boundary” statement, the 28-year old couldn’t believe their captain’s and vice-captain’s tactics. Ben Stokes appreciated the efforts of their bowlers; however, it didn’t seem as if India had any desire to put pressure on the hosts. According to the all-rounder, their strategy was more in favour of England than of India.
“The way Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli played was mystifying. I know that we bowled brilliantly well during this period, but the way they went about their batting just seemed bizarre. They allowed their team to get so far behind the game. They showed no desire to put any pressure back onto our team, content instead to just drift along, a tactic that was clearly playing into our hands.” Stokes added, who played a key role in England’s successful World Cup campaign.