An eight-wicket win with 27 balls to spare meant this was not far off a perfect day’s work for England.
They won the toss, reduced India to 20 for three in the powerplay, and limited them to a limp 124 for seven in their 20 overs, before making light work of the chase. Roy gave England’s chase impetus with 49, then his ODI opening partner Jonny Bairstow thrashed 26 to finish the job.
One of England’s problems is powerplay wickets. And when they left Moeen Ali out and saw India had picked a left-handed opener, Shikhar Dhawan, they might have been frustrated. But, by opting for ultra-aggressive tactics, they got off to the dream start – and never looked back.
Morgan used two overs from his best bowlers, Adil Rashid – who had never opened the bowling before – and Jofra Archer, straight up. And they rewarded him with a wicket each; Archer bowled KL Rahul, then Virat Kohli miscued Rashid to mid-off for his second duck in a row. India were 3-2, and England were flying.
All four bowlers Morgan used started with a brilliant first over. Rashid conceded just two, Archer bowled a wicket maiden, Wood conceded two and bowled Shikhar Dhawan slogging, then Chris Jordan finished off with another over costing just two. Even with a remarkable reverse-scooped six from Rishabh Pant off Archer thrown in, India limped to 22 for three after six.
India never fully recovered. Pant fell to Ben Stokes at halfway, then Archer picked up Hardik Pandya, just as he threatened to fizz, and Shardul Thakur in successive balls.
The only Indian to find his timing was Shreyas Iyer, the least certain of his place in the top six. Iyer played beautifully, setting himself on his way by turning boundaries to fine leg, but was soon playing more expansively. He may not have the raw power of his team-mates, but his mix of flicks and punches made him tough to bowl to. Eventually, he fell in the final over – but not before giving India something to bowl at.
England caught brilliantly. Jonny Bairstow did well to catch Pant, Dawid Malan showed he had safe hands in the deep, while Jordan took Pandya low at mid-off at a vital moment.
India showed their class in the field too, with KL Rahul pulling off a stunning diving save to deny Buttler a six.
Since the 2019 World Cup, Roy’s had a stop-start time of it. He has not played much, and when he has, he’s struggled for form. He has had trouble with left-arm orthodox and leg-spin, making India’s attack a challenge. England have lavish top order options, Bairstow camped at No4, and cause celebre Alex Hales on the outside looking in.
The pressure on Roy is broadly external, with Morgan his biggest fan and considering him a talisman at the top of the order who drags the rest of the team with him.
And England’s brilliant bowling gave Roy the perfect opportunity to remind everyone else just how good he is. He started a little shakily, but a couple of miscues landing safely helped him get his eye in, and he was soon launching sixes off the spinners (the ones who were supposed to cause him trouble) and driving Thakur down the ground. India’s seamers particularly were made to look a little pedestrian.
Roy eventually fell to Washington Sundar’s first ball, but by then England had broken the back of the chase.
In the company of Dawid Malan, Bairstow saw England home in an eventful few minutes. The Yorkshireman had a spat with Washington, then nearly Malan ran out. But he also played some stunning strokes, including lofting Yuzvendra Chahal – who had dismissed Jos Buttler earlier – for a pair of sixes.
These were welcome runs for Bairstow, too. He made three ducks in four innings in the Tests, but showed no signs of any lingering concerns now the formats have changed. For England, that is very good news.