Unbeaten India ooze confidence ahead of England game.
BIRMINGHAM: Exactly two decades ago, a major calamity struck England cricket here at Edgbaston. The hosts’ early elimination from the 1999 World Cup, much before the release of the official anthem, triggered public anger and media outcry. In the inevitable postmortem, Alex Stewart lost his captaincy and David Lloyd was thrown out as head coach. It was India who handed England the exit pass in a rain-affected match that stretched into the reserve day.
A defeat against Virat Kohli & Co. here on Sunday would leave England cricket in turmoil again. Considered England’s best assembled ODI squad, the pre-tournament favourites won four out of their first five games and raised hopes of lifting the coveted trophy aloft at the home of cricket, but not many expected them to stutter and be on the brink of elimination. If Pakistan win their last game against Bangladesh, they would go through at the expense of the hosts.
England batsman Jos Buttler, however, believes that the tough situation will bring about the best from his team. “You talk about pressure. But pressure is a privilege sometimes. We’re in a very privileged position to be in this situation,” said Buttler.
India, the only unbeaten side in the competition so far, are riding the crest of a wave having recently dislodged England from the top of the ODI rankings. India boast happy memories of playing at Edgbaston, including their title triumph in the 2013 ICC Champions Trophy.
The No.4 batting spot remains India’s only concern with Vijay Shankar failing to cash in on the good starts. The Tamil Nadu all-rounder faced a lot of criticism after the match against West Indies, but Virat Kohli is unlikely to tinker with the XI. He gave enough hints at the pre-match press conference that Vijay would continue to bat at No.4.
M.S. Dhoni has also been under the scanner for his struggle to rotate the strike in the middle overs, but, again, the skipper is not worried. “Dhoni knows exactly what he needs to do. After the Afghanistan game, he went into the nets. He worked hard. He put in a performance and got us to a winning total against West Indies, and we won the game. We got two points. We have total belief in him, and he stood up for the team many times,” Kohli said.
The venue saw a lot of assistance for spinners in the previous game between Pakistan and New Zealand. With the weather for Sunday’s game set to be bright and sunny, the wrist spin duo of Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav pose a daunting task for England middle-order.
England skipper Eoin Morgan, after his team’s loss to Australia at Lord’s earlier this week, had admitted that England’s batting gets challenged a lot more if they don’t play on batting friendly surfaces. Opener Jason Roy may not be 100 per cent fit, but he is set to return to bolster the top order. England are desperate to see him open the innings with Jonny Bairstow as James Vince — who came in for injured Roy — hasn’t found his feet, making lacklustre scores of 26, 14 and a second-ball duck.