Kohli marvels at Stokes and Bairstow: The most amazing batting you're going to see!

By Sports Desk March 26, 2021

Virat Kohli had few complaints about India's performance against England on Friday, acknowledging Ben Stokes and Jonny Bairstow "blew us away".

India set England 337 to win and level the three-match ODI series, a total the tourists sped to carried by Stokes and Bairstow.

While opener Bairstow contributed 124, Stokes stole the show with 99 off just 52 balls - including 49 off the next 11 after reaching his half-century. He has averaged 56.4 over 42 ODI innings since the start of 2017.

The stand of 175 - after Bairstow and Jason Roy had put on 110 for the first wicket - saw England have two hundred partnerships in the same ODI for the first time since the Cricket World Cup in June 2019.

Although Stokes and Bairstow fell in consecutive overs and briefly gave India hope, Dawid Malan and Liam Livingstone completed a six-wicket triumph with 39 balls to spare.

"I think we set up quite a decent total on the board," said captain Kohli, who scored 66 and remains one century shy of Sachin Tendulkar's record of 20 in men's ODIs in India.

"But England found a way to get that 100-run partnership and we hardly had any chances come our way.

"I thought they batted brilliantly well tonight. Yes, we did not execute some things as well as we wanted to, but that was some of the most amazing batting that you're going to see while chasing a total.

"You have to give credit where it's due and tonight they totally blew us away with that partnership of Jonny and Ben Stokes.

"We didn't even have a chance, that's how good they were together and they thoroughly deserved to win."

Bairstow has 20 sixes over his past three ODI innings against India and no England batsman has more maximums against them in this format than his 26.

The Yorkshire wicketkeeper was enthused by Kohli's praise, responding: "I'll take that! It's very kind of him to say that.

"He's been one of the best players around the world for a period of time. I'm very pleased, and likewise, pleased to be striking the ball the way I am at the moment."

Bairstow and Roy now have 13 century stands together, the most by an England pairing, while no opening partnership in men's ODIs can top their average of 61.6 (from 20 innings or more).

It is certainly a role Bairstow is enjoying, as he added: "I'm happy. Since opening the batting, I've got 11 [centuries], I think I've only opened 56, 57 times.

"I'm happy with those figures but those figures mean nothing if you don't keep converting them in the future. I'm happy with how I'm playing my cricket at the moment, really enjoying it."

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    Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal have paid tribute to the "charismatic" Jo-Wilfried Tsonga after the 37-year-old brought his 18-year professional career to a close.

    Tsonga, who reached a career-high ranking of world number five in 2012, confirmed in April that he would retire at the culmination of his French Open campaign.

    That duly came in the first round on Tuesday as he bowed out to world number eight Casper Ruud 6-7 (6-8) 7-6 (7-4) 6-2 7-6 (7-0).

    He retires having won, according to Opta, 464 Tour-level matches since September 2004.

    Tsonga is one of just three players, along with Andy Murray and Juan Martin del Potro, to have beaten Nadal, Federer and Djokovic while they were ranked world number one.

    He is also one of three players, alongside Stan Wawrinka and Tomas Berdych, who have defeated Nadal, Federer and Djokovic at grand slams.

    A video tribute was played on court after his defeat to Ruud, which featured messages from the sport's most iconic players.

    Federer said: "I wanted to congratulate you on an amazing career and it was a pleasure to share the court with and play against you, even to lose against you!

    "We had some great battles. Enjoy the moment in Paris with all your friends and family, in front of all your adoring spectators."

    Djokovic added: "Jo is one of the most charismatic tennis players ever to play the game. I was very happy to share the court with him many times.

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    "I wish him all the best, and he definitely should be happy about his career and his achievements. He's made his mark and his legacy in our sport."

    Nadal said: "He is very charismatic. I've known him since we were kids; he is a good guy and I think he brings a lot of positive things to our sport so I'm sad to see him going but we are getting old so it's going to happen for everyone."

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    "This is what I'm going to miss – the contact with the crowd. And with those who have been supporting me for all these years.

    "You know, in real life, it's sometimes difficult to be intense. You don't want to shock, you don't want to be too rude, you don't want to hurt somebody.

    "You always try to act to be nice, to be sociable. But, you know, on the court, you can express your fever. You can express everything about you, and it's sometimes freeing."

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    Tsonga, who reached a high ranking of world number five, confirmed in April that he would retire at the culmination of his French Open campaign.

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    That confirmed the end of Tsonga's long career. He bows out having won, according to Opta, 464 Tour-level matches since September 2004.

    Tsonga is one of just three players, along with Andy Murray and Juan Martin del Potro, to have beaten Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic while they were ranked world number one.

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    Tsonga also became the first player since Guillermo Canas in 2002 to defeat four straight top-10 players at a Masters 1000 tournament when he triumphed in Toronto in 2014.

    "It's tough for me and all the players that you're stopping. You've been an inspiration to me and so many of the other players, so thank you for the memories," Ruud told Tsonga after the match.

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