CHENNAI: It is among the most used words by Indian captains and players over the years. The latest example was by skipper Rohit Sharma after the loss against England in the second ODI where they failed to chase 244.
And, more often than not, the context in which the Indian team management have spoken about intent has been related to their batting.
Whether it was during Kohli’s tenure in Tests or now, under Rohit Sharma in ODIs.
However, if there is one key takeaway for India, as Rishabh Pant’s unbeaten 125 — his maiden ODI century — helped India win the third ODI and the series, it is the consistent pressure they built with the ball across the three matches.
Well, at least in the last two as the first ODI was all about the magic of Jasprit Bumrah, with pacers sharing all 10 wickets between them.
On Thursday at Lord’s, the intent was more visible, with proactive bowling changes from Rohit to keep the pressure on England batters through the 50 overs.
Whether it was during the powerplay when Jason Roy and Jonny Bairstow was taking the attack to them or after being reduced to 87/4, India had front line pacers from one end with Chahal operating from another.
The only phase where it seemed like they went defensive was when Ravindra Jadeja and Hardik Pandya — the duo that in all likelihood would make up for their fifth bowler — were bowling in tandem.
Between 2017-2019, India often fielded Pandya as their third seamer, with Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav as their premier spinners. It meant a long tail, starting at eight.
Now, with Pandya moving to No 6 and Jadeja being a defensive option — 57.15 bowling average in the last three years — India have six bowlers depending on where they play.
However, the long tail issue remains. But as Rohit said after the second ODI, it seems to be the cards they’ve chosen to play.
As Mohammad Siraj came in for an injured Bumrah, Sunday was no different.
After the forgettable outing in the fifth Test, Siraj was in his zone, dismissing Roy and Joe Root in the same over early on. Pandya took it from there, putting his short-of-length deliveries to good use against the England middle-order, as the hosts were all out (third time in the series) for 259.
Even during the Jos Buttler-Moeen Ali partnership, they were troubled by the extra bounce Prasidh Krishna and Pandya were generating.
Admittedly, conditions do come into play as a bit of extra bounce has been consistent across venues in the series. And so does the brand of cricket — England have often tried to go gung-ho throughout the innings even at the cost of losing wickets.
That said, India have made the most of the conditions and remained unperturbed by the tactics, continuing to search for wickets rather than taking a back seat.
India’s rise in Test cricket in the last few years has largely been attributed to their bowling attack and the ability to take 20 wickets.
It seems like they are trying to keep bowling in focus in ODIs as well, playing their best five bowlers.
There are several issues with this Indian ODI side, especially in their batting, but at the moment, showing intent with the ball doesn’t seem to be one of them.
England: Roy c Pant b Pandya 41, Bairstow c sub (Iyer) b Siraj 0, Root c Sharma b Siraj 0, Stokes c & b Pandya 27, Buttler c Jadeja b Pandya 60, Ali c Pant b Jadeja 34, Livingstone c Jadeja b Pandya 27, Willey c Yadav b Chahal 18, Overton c Kohli b Chahal 32, Carse not out 3, Topley b Chahal 0; Extras: (w13, nb2, lb2) 17; Total: (all out in 45.5 ovs) 259. FoW: 1-12, 2-12, 3-66, 4-74, 5-149, 6-198, 7-199, 8-247, 9-257; Bowling: Shami 7-0-38-0, Siraj 9-1-66-2, Krishna 9-0-48-0, Pandya 7-3-24-4, Chahal 9.5-0-60-3, Jadeja 4-0-21-1. India: Rohit c Root b Topley 17, Dhawan c Roy b Topley 1, Kohli c Buttler b Topley 17, Pant (not out) 125, Suryakumar c Buttler b Overton 16, Pandya c Stokes b Carse 71, Jadeja (not out) 7. Extras: (b 1, lb 3, w 3) 7. Total: (42.1 ovs, 5 wickets) 261. FoW: 1-13, 2-21, 3-38, 4-72, 5-205. Bowling: Topley 7-1-35-3, Willey 7-0-58-0, Carse 8-0-45-1, Ali 8-0-33-0, Overton 8-0-54-1, Stokes 2-0-14-0, Livingstone 2-0-14-0, Root 0.1-0-4-0.