The State of Play
There couldn’t be a greater contrast between the two sides heading into Sunday’s fixture. India have looked hugely impressive whereas England resemble a shambolic mess.
Defending champions England are all but out of the tournament following their capitulation to Sri Lanka yesterday – a lame performance on the back of a thrashing by South Africa at the weekend. England have won just one of their five games and need a minor miracle to make it to the semi-finals. They need to win their four remaining matches and hope for a freakish set of results elsewhere.
India, on the other hand, are the only team with a 100 per cent record after five games. Backed by a wildly enthusiastic home support, they will take some stopping. Captain Rohit Sharma is in great nick at the top of the order and Virat Kohli looks in increasingly ominous form. Mohammed Shami’s return also looks likely to bolster the bowling unit.
A win against England would move them tantalisingly close to securing a semi-final spot.
— BCCI (@BCCI) October 25, 2023
England have flip-flopped on team selection throughout the tournament. Having started with an all-rounder heavy line-up, they picked five orthodox batters and five orthodox bowlers for the South Africa game, only to backtrack again against Sri Lanka.
Whatever they have tried has failed so expect the rebuild – and a nod to the future – to start against India with Gus Atkinson and Harry Brook included.
It ain’t broke for India so why fix it?
Hardik Pandya’s ankle injury will continue to keep him out so Suryakumar Yadav is set to deputise once again. Shami’s five for 54 in Dharamsala ought to be enough to keep him in the team although the pitch in Lucknow will favour spin, meaning Ravichandran Ashwin could come into contention.
India will likely wait until qualification is secured before resting any key men so expect all the big guns to face England.
England: Bairstow, Malan, Root, Stokes, Brook, Buttler (c, wk), Moeen, Curran, Willey, Rashid, Atkinson
India: Sharma (c), Gill, Kohli, Iyer, Rahul (wk), S Yadav, Jadeja, Shami, Bumrah, K Yadav, Siraj
What They Said
Jos Buttler: “It’s been an incredibly tough and incredibly disappointing tournament. I’m disappointed in myself and all the boys that we haven’t given a good account of ourselves.
“There’s no clear answer at the moment [as to why]. I can’t fault the boys’ efforts but we’re playing a long way short of our best.
“There are a lot of experienced cricketers [in the dressing room] who have been through a lot – a lot of confident people. You don’t become a bad player overnight, you don’t become a bad team overnight. I think that’s probably the biggest frustration, that we’ve been so far short of our best, and for no obvious reason. I just can’t put my finger on it at the moment.
Rohit Sharma: “It’s been a good start to the tournament but the job is half done. We love travelling and playing in different parts of the country. So far we have not been disappointed and we have not disappointed the crowd either.”
As Buttler said, England haven’t become a bad team overnight and perhaps playing without pressure will do them good.
That said, few teams in world cricket can exploit a lack of confidence in the opposition like India.
Expect the hosts to make it six wins from six although it may be closer than the Indian fans would like.
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