posted on 2019-05-15 12:06:03
posted by Michael Harrison
Image courtesy: The Telegraph
His latest onslaught at Bristol against Pakistan proves once again that nothing fazes Jonny Bairstow, not even a 350-plus target. While the modern trend of scoring has made 300-run totals common and 350-plus targets chaseable, it's not every day that teams go on to track them down, that too with such ease.
For the record, this was only England's second highest successful run chase in ODIs. So, for all the talk on the modern day flat pitches and easy scoring, Pakistan's score of 358 on an easy-paced surface would still have needed some doing. Bairstow had other ideas though, and along with his partner Jason Roy, made a mockery of the run chase.
Since he got the opening slot in ODIs, Bairstow has been unstoppable. Not only does he score at a freaking rate, but also the manner in which he does means that the opposition rare gets any chances of dismissing him. Unlike Roy whose game is more about unabashed aggression, Bairstow has a method to his madness and that makes him a frightening prospect.
What stands out with Bairstow is his eagerness to adhere to orthodox strokes to upset the opposition. It's rare that you'll see him move around the crease a lot or look for shots with deft touches, unless it's against the spinners. The margin for error is too less against Bairstow and Pakistan once again found that out in Bristol.
The first four boundary shots from the dynamic Yorkshireman all come on the leg-side with Junaid Khan the casualty on all occasions. A wristy flick through mid-wicket and a couple of leg glances through backward square leg all fetched boundaries to set Bairstow up before he launched a pick up shot over deep square leg - an outrageous shot to say the least.
This was enough to give Bairstow momentum and the rhythmic batsman that he is tore into the Pakistan bowling that lacked bite. True, the surface was extremely good for batting but the intent and plans from the visitors were shoddy. There was no consistency in the tactics and as a result, England's batsmen made merry.
Such was Bairstow's carnage that he brought up his century, 7th in ODIs, in only the 24th over and by the time he departed in the 29th over, England's required rate that was over 7 rpo at the start of the innings, had dropped drastically to less than 6 rpo. Talk about severe impact!
Going into the World Cup, England have plenty of ammunition in the batting department with Jos Buttler arguably their most destructive of the lot. However, he is a finisher and a lot of how England approach an innings will depend on how they start. Therefore, the form of the openers will be paramount to their chances.
Responsibility will be more so, on Bairstow who is the more solid of the two and therefore, can consistently demolish opponents with his fluid brand of strokeplay. Unless the surfaces are a bit slow or two-paced, opponents are likely to have massive headaches regarding containing this English batting line-up.
In a team that has batting superheroes of various kinds, Bairstow is England's red-headed Avenger, a man who can't be stopped once he finds his rhythm. Of course, England's bowling unit will be the biggest factor if they are to win the World Cup but if Bairstow doesn't have a great tournament, their chances will surely dip.