The English summer is heating up and so is the cricketing action in the United Kingdom. England pipped India in a hard-fought three-match ODI series, to win 2-1. This was an eagerly awaited contest as both the sides were unbeaten in the bilateral series in 2018. Moreover, this series was also billed as the battle of the best, as the world number 1 ODI team was pitted against the world number 2. Needless to say, the series was full of action, both with the bat and the ball. It saw some stupendous innings by the likes of Joe Root, Eoin Morgan and Rohit Sharma, while breath-taking spells by Kuldeep Yadav and Adil Rashid bamboozled the batsmen in 1st and 3rd ODIs, respectively. Some of our players like Jos Buttler and Ben Stokes too played a crucial role for England to seal the series.
The conclusion of the ODI series means it is time for the business end of the tour to begin. A battle for supremacy will now commence between the two sides while donning the white jerseys. A hard-fought 5 match long test series is set to commence at the beginning of August. This means our captain Ajinkya Rahane will once again be donning the India jersey.
The all-rounder from Durham marked his return to the international scene with a decent showing in the recently concluded 3 match ODI series against India. Fans of the Royals and the England team would have been pleased to see Ben not only wielding the willow effectively but also bowling regularly in the series. This is an indication that he has successfully recovered from the hamstring injury suffered during the ODI series against Australia.
His batting performance in the first ODI was somewhat uncharacteristic of the Ben Stokes that we know and love, but it was effective nonetheless. His patient innings of 50 off 103 balls helped England post a decent score on the board. His ability to curb his natural game and grind it for his team reflected the Rajasthan Royals spirit. Here is hoping Ben stays fit and fares well in the upcoming Test series too.
In the same match in which Ben Stokes returned to form with a defiant half-century, Jos Buttler gave him ample support at the crease. It was the Rajasthan Royals duo who came together and helped England’s batting. The partnership was particularly impressive as they mixed caution with aggression. While Stokesy was cautious in his approach, the in-form Jos Buttler played a fluent innings of 53 using up only 51 balls. Buttler’s innings gave the English side some much-needed impetus which eventually led them to post a fighting score. It also lifted the dressing room as his innings comprised of some confident shots. If he continues his purple patch, he will definitely be one man to watch out for, come the next season of the Indian Premier League.
Captain of the Rajasthan Royals outfit is raring to go and perform well for the Indian team again. The last time India were in England, Rahane was one of the standout performers for the side. This time too, a lot will be expected from this dependable middle-order batsman from Maharashtra. To ensure that he hits the ground running in the first test Edgbaston, he is already in England, representing the India A side against the England Lions. This will provide some much-needed match practice for him in English conditions.
His astute technique means that India will count on him in England where the ball tends to swing a lot. He may therefore be required to stabilize the innings in case of early fall of wickets. This was exactly the situation that he faced in the unofficial test match between India A and England Lions. He walked in to bat when his side was precariously positioned after Murali Vijay, Mayank Aggarwal and captain of the side Karun Nair fell cheaply. Once again he showed a lot of maturity and patience to stitch a useful partnership with youngster Prithvi Shaw. He not only constructed his innings but also guided Shaw. He successfully negotiated threats posed by England internationals Sam Curran and Chris Woakes. He looked set for a big innings, however, unfortunately, a beautiful delivery by Curran cut short his innings. His 49 off 137 balls included six boundaries and more than the runs scored by him, what will particularly be well received by the Indian and the Rajasthan Royals fans is that he got to spend close to three and a half hours at the crease. We hope this innings help him in his preparation for the crucial test series.
In the coming weeks, India will be playing a four-day practise match against Essex. We will be closely monitoring the performance of our captain Ajinkya Rahane, while keeping an eye on all the other Royals around the world. Halla Bol!