An “80 percent fit” Jason Roy teamed up with Jonny Bairstow to kickstart the England innings; Ben Stokes gave it a finishing kick, and England had too much on the board for an Indian team with a weak underbelly. Some talking points from the game:

The Roy Supremacy: That would be the title if Robert Ludlum were writing this report — this England batting performance was about Jason Roy’s return to the top of the order.

There is an inevitability to a Roy innings – he never seems to need muscle to power the ball away; a combination of great eye, brilliant balance, a 360-degree game awareness and fast hands combine to turbo-charge his knocks.

He started by crashing Mohammed Shami, bowling the third ball of the innings after England had won the toss and opted to bat first on a flat, hard Edgbaston wicket, through point and closed out the over with a fluid drive through the covers. He took on Chahal when the spinner was introduced as early as the 6th over and went after Kuldeep when it was his turn to bowl. When Hardik Pandya was brought on in the 11th to provide some cover, Roy launched a fierce attack on India’s fifth bowling option, lofting him over long off for six and through the covers for four. His up-tempo batting meant that within the first dozen overs the Indian bowling, barring Jasprit Bumrah, was in disarray.

It is not the numbers – 66 off 57 – that Roy’s innings should be valued at; rather, it is what he did for his partner. Jonny Bairstow, who in the lead up to this game was involved in a tetchy war of words with former England captain Michael Vaughan, looked out of sorts. Twice in the first couple of overs he flashed at Shami and under-edged dangerously close to the stumps, and his wicket seemed just one good ball away. Roy’s dominance at one end gave Bairstow the cover he needed at the other.

When Roy was finally out, to a stunning outfield catch by Ravindra Jadeja at long on off Kuldeep Chahal, Bairstow with 89 off 76 had outscored his partner, albeit by facing more deliveries. But a different set of numbers tells the story of Roy’s impact on the game. In the 33 deliveries he faced after Roy was dismissed, Bairstow managed just 22 runs. And England’s run rate slipped from 7.47, when Roy was out, to 6.40 when Bairstow, totally becalmed and fidgety, slashed Shami to deep point.

It could all have been so different. Roy pulled at the 5th ball of the 11th over, from Pandya. There was an appeal for caught behind but India, with keeper MS Dhoni making the decisive call, opted not to review. The replay showed the ball had flicked Roy’s glove on the way through. Roy was 21 off 25 at that time, and England was 50 off 66 balls. For the second time this tournament, the “Dhoni Referral System” was on the blink, and it cost the side big time.

England after Roy was like a suddenly becalmed ship. Root could only nudge and nurdle, Bairstow’s frustrated slice ended his innings of 111, and Morgan – whose denial can no longer hide the fact that he doesn’t like the short ball — was bounced out in quick time. If England made it to 337 – well short of the 350-plus-plus that seemed possible when the hosts brought up their 150 off just 123 balls – it was due to a second consecutive impact innings from Ben Stokes.

The all-rounder treated the spinners with supreme contempt (there was a reverse slog sweep off Chahal in the 40th over that defies description); he worked the angles of the field as though he had a protractor embedded in his bat, and he engaged in a battle with Jasprit Bumrah that was among the best passages of play in this World Cup. (For the record, Bumrah won that death battle and ended up with Stokes as his only wicket).

The Indian Implosion: India’s bowling has been the talking point of not just this tournament, but of the last year or so – and spin twins Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav have been prominent in this turnaround from a time when the common complaint was that no matter how good India’s batsmen were, its bowlers lacked the cutting edge.

Here, on a pitch that offered less than extravagant turn, the two spinners came to grief against batsmen – Roy, Bairstow and Stokes in particular – who never allowed them to settle. One statistic tells the sorry story: the two spinners, who till now have bossed the middle overs, went for a combined 160 runs in their twenty overs, without ever looking like getting a sniff of a wicket.

Kohli, after the game, pointed a finger at the short, 59-meter boundary but that is precious – the boundary lines were marked long before the toss, so it is not as if this was a surprise. What did surprise was that the spinners, used to floating the ball up and challenging batsmen to come hard, did not seem to have a Plan B when the batsmen did in fact accept their invitation.

Chahal, in particular, kept tossing it up on a fourth/fifth stump line; neither bowler, nor captain, nor the wicket-keeper/eminence grise seem to have thought of flattening the trajectory, bowling more at the stumps, getting back a measure of control before using temptation as a weapon. Kuldeep, whose first 6 overs went for 64, did that relatively well in his last four overs – he bowled flat, quick and on the stumps, and stanched the bleeding, his last four overs going for just eight runs.

Thanks largely to Roy’s fluid belligerence, Hardik Pandya had a tough first couple of overs, going for 21 runs and having to spend time patrolling the outfield till he got his nerve back. But to his credit, the all-rounder came back, sussed out the conditions, and redeemed himself with some controlled bowling, using pace-off, the scrambled seam, and short balls of varying pace; his last eight overs yielding just 31 runs.

Mohammed Shami, as he often does, managed to be both hero and villain on the same day, sometimes in the same over. There was a period of play, between overs 28 and 31, when a combination of Pandya, Chahal and Yadav gave away just 13 off their 24 deliveries. Shami, coming in on the back of that, took out Bairstow in the 32nd and bounced out Morgan in the 34th, his spell at that point reading 2-1-1-2.

He returned at the back end and, with the batsmen looking to go big, took out three more wickets – but his last two overs, the 47th and 49th, were pure dross. He got the wickets of Jos Buttler and Chris Woakes, but conceded 32 runs. Those two ruinous overs undid the brilliance of Bumrah, who in the 46th, 48th and 50th gave away just 16 runs and, in the process, took out the wicket of a frustrated Ben Stokes.

“Brilliance” has been used ad nauseum to describe Bumrah. The bowler, for his part, keeps producing mind-bending displays, as if challenging those who write about him to find new ways to describe that thing he does. Here is what he did: When Roy and Bairstow were accelerating off the blocks, he produced a spell of 4-1-8-0 (the maiden, to Bairstow, a masterclass in tying down an aggressive batsman). He bowled just one over in the middle phase, with Virat Kohli keeping five of his overs for the death.

England was 245/3 at the end of 40 when Bumrah returned to the crease. Bowling five on the trot at the death is never easy; doing that against an England batting side primed to go big is doubly challenging. And yet the quickie with the quixotic action produced a spell of 5-0-26-1. Read that in context: England scored 92 in the last ten; Bumrah gave away 26 of those while his mates bowled five overs for 66 runs.

Death of the thousand dots: The first step towards solving a problem is accepting that you have one. India has one – its middle order, albeit beefed up for this game by the inclusion of Rishabh Pant for Vijay Shankar.

To cover for this, India has adopted the opening crawl as a tactic, playing within themselves, trying to preserve wickets in the hope that they can “make up” later. And increasingly, this has been fetishized by commentators, who talk up this “strategy” and point to India’s success rate. The same commentators, in the very next breath, say India’s recent successes owe to their bowling strength. Cognitive dissonance, much?

Here’s the problem: When the bowlers have an off day – as happened today, and as can happen against good batting sides in the business end of the tournament – this go-slow tactic will hurt the side, bad.

Three of the first five overs were maidens. Chris Woakes is a steady, disciplined bowler who hits the channel, bowls the hard length consistently, and moves it away off the seam – but 3-3-0-1? At the start of an innings chasing 338? Woakes is that good? Really?

India scored 28/1 in the opening powerplay — the least by any side in this tournament. They played out 163 dot balls — more than half the total allocation — against the West Indies and ended with a below par 268/7 earlier this week at Manchester, but were bailed out by an all-round bowling performance. Here, with the bowlers going the distance and the batsmen having to pull off a world record chase, they still batted in that down-tempo fashion.

The number to keep an eye on is at the 30-over mark: Of the 180 legitimate deliveries at that point, exactly 100 had not been scored off. That underscores the biggest issue with the Indian top three: strike rotation or lack thereof. The last two phases were much better – but by then, there was too much to “make up”.

Here’s are stats worth considering: The 50 of the Virat/Rohit partnership was off 82 balls, of which Virat scored 34 in 46 and Rohit, 16 off 36. The 100 of the partnership came off 124 balls. Virat scored 56 of those off 65. Rohit scored 44 off 59. Here’s the thing: At that point, Rohit had nine fours. In other words, 36 runs came off nine deliveries; the other 50 produced just 8 runs, of which one was a two. Hence the point about strike rotation. It is not only about the runs you don’t score — equally, it is about the runs your partner can’t score because you’ve marooned him at the other end.

The newspapers this morning made much of India losing “despite” Rohit’s century; examine the numbers, and you will find that the opener’s innings was a contributory factor to the defeat, not an extenuating circumstance.

The hare versus the tortoise: That old fable was pretty much the story of the Indian chase; India started slow, and never really managed to catch up.

After KL Rahul – who injured himself early in the England innings when he tried to take a catch on the line and spent the rest of the innings getting treatment – left without scoring, Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma stitched a partnership together, each batting as if on different pitches.

Virat was his usual fluent self, lacing cover drives and targeting the onside with wrists that work on the ball like a revolving door. Rohit Sharma, in contrast to his norm, was patchy – dreamy drives alternating with uncharacteristically agricultural hoiks during the first half of his innings, several of which he was lucky to see drop between fielders. The two put on 138 for the second wicket, their best phase coming when Adil Rashid and Ben Stokes teamed up with the ball, and together went for 69 runs off just nine overs.

Eoin Morgan was forced to change plans; to the England captain’s good fortune, Plan B worked. He brought back Archer for a brief spell to reel the scoring rate back, and Liam Plunkett to provide the disciplined line and length that is his trademark. That Virat patted an innocuous delivery in the channel straight to backward point was a bonus.

Rohit duly got his century (102 off 109, 15 fours, you do the math), but with the run rate at 10 per over, he needed to kick on. With his timing nowhere close to peak, easier said than done — the pressure he had contributed to creating now told on him and forced an ugly hoik at Chris Woakes that ended up in the keeper’s gloves.

Worth mentioning, as an aside, is that off just the fourth ball that he faced, Rohit Sharma went for an expansive drive at a quick delivery on length in the channel from Jofra Archer; the movement away found the edge and Joe Root, at second slip, grassed one of the simplest chances a slip fielder would hope to see. Rohit was then four off four balls.

The Pant-Pandya roller-coaster: Rishabh Pant, in the side because Vijay Shankar has a convenient “toe niggle”, celebrated his World Cup debut by nearly running himself out twice within three balls; he swung at a ball so fiercely that his bat went flying in the region of square leg while the ball went nowhere. But unlike his predecessor, he kept the board ticking from the get go with a combination of deft placements and thumping hits.

Pandya, promoted ahead of MS Dhoni, did the thing he does: his feet parallel-parked deep within the crease to set up a stable hitting base, he swung hard through the line, onside or off. Nothing is so indicative of what Pandya is about than the 39th over. Woakes at that point had the scarcely credible analysis of 6-3-14-2. Pandya smashed an on drive and an extra cover drive, then a shot that split long on and deep midwicket – what in the West Indies is called a “no man move” shot — and ended the over with two braces, to square leg and straight past the bowler. 16 runs in that over with minimum of fuss – two more than Woakes had conceded in his previous six.

It was too good to last, though. Pant (32 off 29) flicked the first ball of the 40th over and Woakes, who had just finished a tiring over, raced across to his left from deep square leg, flung himself headlong and held the sort of catch you see, but you still don’t believe.

By then, England had figured Pandya out. Deep and wide extra cover, deep long off and long on, pace off the ball, line of the fifth and sixth stump, nothing on the stumps. Pandya kept thumping them down the ground for singles and braces, but that line and field placement gave him no room to access his favorite on-side or get under the ball and play the big shots. Frustration piled up, Pandya (45 off 33) holed out to long on off Liam Plunkett who, on his comeback to the playing eleven, finished with 3/55.

MS Dhoni, at the other end, swished and nudged and swung, connecting at times — but he is not, has not been for a while, the finisher par excellence the world celebrated. The task – 71 from 30 when Pandya was out – produced a bizarre period of play when he and Kedar Jadhav, with no show of intent or fight, kept walking singles as if they had all the time in the world. Most of the fans, clad in blue to cheer for a side clad in orange, had left the stadium; the few who were left stayed back only to boo the icon they had greeted with “Dhoo-ni” chants when he walked out to bat.

PostScript: Anyone know what Kedar Jadhav’s role in this Indian side is? Despite the wrist spinners taking severe tap, he wasn’t given a single over, even against left-handers. He batted at number seven and looked bewildered by the finishing job he is supposed to excel at. So what is he, if he is neither a bowling all-rounder or a batting all-rounder?

India paid a price today for its selection policy, first, that packed the lineup with bits and pieces players who are neither one thing nor the other and, secondly, for its belief that bowlers, backed by the top three, is enough to make a winning combination. The tab didn’t break the bank this time – India has two more games to nail its last four berth (though, if you have been paying attention, Bangladesh – who India faces on Tuesday – is a very good batting side).

But come the knock-outs, the inherent weakness of the Indian middle, and the consequent go-slow by the top order, can cost them big time.

(A version of this article was published on cricket.com yesterday. Cover image courtesy The Independent, UK)