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Bairstow, Stokes demolish India in high-scoring clash

Jonny Bairstow’s magnificent century and a ferocious knock of 99 from Ben Stokes saw England level the series with a thrilling six-wicket win in the second one-day international against India.

Facing India’s stiff target of 337 on Friday, based on a century from KL Rahul and a blistering 77 from Rishabh Pant, England’s fearless top order tore chunks out of it to take the series to a Sunday decider.

The tourists smashed 20 sixes between them and left 39 balls unused as they made India’s earlier efforts look like child’s play. Bairstow’s 124 – his 11th ODI hundred – was the cornerstone while Stokes fell one short of his own century after a furious blitz that saw him clear the ropes on 10 occasions.

After Jason Roy (55) had helped Bairstow put on an opening stand of 110, Stokes, batting in Joe Root’s familiar position of three, soared from 50 to 99 in just 11 deliveries before a flick off the glove denied him a breathtaking ton.

England had a late wobble with Stokes, Bairstow and Jos Buttler falling in a handful of deliveries, but the frenzied scoring that the top three left behind meant the hard work was already done.

The finishing touches were applied by debutant Liam Livingstone and Dawid Malan, both in as late injury replacements for captain Eoin Morgan and Sam Billings.

Earlier, Virat Kohli (66) and Rahul steered their side with a careful stand worth 121, but scored just 30 of their first 100 runs in boundaries and allowed Moeen Ali to run through his full allocation with a solitary four against his name.

Rahul, who scored 108 off 114 balls, assumed responsibility for steering things, taking the side to 210-3 after 40 overs, a base India used to pile on 126 in the final 10.

Pant smashed seven sixes in his 77 and were it not for two tidy death overs from Reece Topley, it might have been even more. Tom Curran suffered more than most as he shipped 83 from his share, though he did dismiss Rahul, and Hardik Pandya hit four sixes in a short cameo ended by Topley.

England’s reply began with a sticky start for Jason Roy, who managed just five off his first 17 balls, but the Surrey man soon shook off the cobwebs.

Coming in at No 3, Ben Stokes hammered 10 sixes in his ruthless 52-ball 99.

Both he and Bairstow passed 50 with sixes off Kuldeep Yadav but, with a 13th hundred partnership banked by the pair, their deep understanding gave way to a run out.

Either could have gone as they both erred in the middle, but it was Roy who fell on his sword for 55. The arrival of Stokes kept the momentum up, with left-arm spinner Krunal Pandya shipping three sixes in as many overs from the allrounder.

After taking 40 balls for his half-century, Stokes went ballistic, unloading six sixes in nine deliveries as Kuldeep and Krunal were treated with violent disdain.

An unbelievable century was there for the taking, only for Bhuvneshwar to tear up the script with a bouncer that took a glove on the way through.

AP/RSS

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