Two batting-heavy sides with contrasting approaches to white-ball cricket are both in the hunt for their second title at the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup. In Adelaide, on Thursday, they will lock horns and at the end of it all, only one of them will remain in the race for the crown.
In the build up to the World Cup, the Indian think-tank spoke a great deal about wanting to play a more positive and fearless form of T20 cricket. But, they haven’t exactly been able to shrug off the conservative approach in the big games – with an extra cautious approach in the powerplay, with Rohit Sharma acknowledging on Wednesday as part of the team trying to adapt. They will also be looking to course-correct why they let the games against Pakistan and Bangladesh be that tense. Despite that, they still have managed to look like the team to beat in the tournament and emerged as the only team to finish the Super 12s with four victories and eight points.
Meanwhile, England began their campaign with a five-wicket victory over Afghanistan but it was far from convincing as the spinners made them work hard to reach 113 runs. The next match was much worse where they were defeated by Ireland by five runs in a rain-curtailed match. The following match against Australia was rained out. However, England displayed their potential as a team that is more than capable of flourishing in Australian conditions in their encounter against New Zealand. In a must-win game against Sri Lanka, they ensured qualification despite a nervy finish, knocking out defending champions Australia.
When the two sides meet, world No 2 England will keep in mind the momentum, consistency and form world No 1 India are carrying in this tournament but they will also remember the 2-1 T20I series defeat they suffered at home earlier this year. To makes things tougher for them on paper, they haven’t played in Adelaide in the Super 12 and so the advantage lies with India in that sense. But there is no denying that if India want to become finalists, they will have to out-bat England, given their hitting prowess and depth.
India in the Super 12 stage
|Pakistan||Melbourne||Won by 4 wickets|
|Netherlands||Sydney||Won by 56 runs|
|South Africa||Perth||Lost by 5 wickets|
|Bangladesh||Adelaide||Won by 5 runs (DLS)|
|Zimbabwe||Melbourne||Won by 71 runs|
England in the Super 12 stage
|Afghanistan||Perth||Won by 5 wickets|
|Ireland||Melbourne||Lost by 5 runs|
|Australia||Melbourne||Match abandoned due to rain|
|New Zealand||Brisbane||Won by 20 runs|
|Sri Lanka||Sydney||Won by 4 wickets|
Virat Kohli, with 246 runs at an average of 123 and three fifty-plus scores has a match-winning contribution in three out of five matches. He is the leading run-scorer of the tournament so far.
The other top performer is, of course, Suryakumar Yadav, who has taken the World Cup by storm with his fearless batting approach and consistency. With 225 runs at an average of 75, he is the second-highest run-scorer for India and the third overall in the tournament. He too has registered three fifty-plus scores, all of which have come at an incredible strike rate. The reigning No 1 T20I batter and leading run-scorer of the year in this format, Suryakumar is a threat for England. After his unbeaten 117 off 55 in Trent Bridge, England will have their Plans A, B and C ready for the India batter.
While Arshdeep Singh’s strength was seen as death bowling, his contributions in the powerplay and middle overs that have ensured he is India’s leading wicket-taker with ten wickets in five matches. While there can still be an over or two where a set batter decides to take him on, he complements Bhuvneshwar Kumar’s bowling in the powerplay and bolsters the death bowling with Mohammad Shami.
India have not yet played leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal at the World Cup and it is unlikely that he will be included in the XI in a semifinal without gametime but India could consider the possibility looking at Adelaide’s boundaries. More so, because Axar Patel as a wicket-taking option hasn’t created the kind of impact India would have liked.
Captain Rohit Sharma’s contribution remains a bit of a concern.
India’s middle order is brimming with hard-hitters such as Hardik Pandya, wicketkeeper-batter Rishabh Pant (likely), and all-rounder Ashwin Ravichandran to power them to a big total and they would need big contributions across the top seven to come through against a team that is as batting-heavy as England.
Top India batters in Super 12s
Top India bowlers in Super 12s
England captain Jos Buttler is a lethal striker at the top of the order and he and his opening partner Alex Hales together are making up for the majority of run-scoring for England. Hales’ return to the lineup is one of the major changes from 2021 and he is England’s leading run-scorer so far with 125 runs in four matches. Then, there is Ben Stokes, who is not the same beast in this format but is still reliable as ever, as he showed in the final Super 12 game against Sri Lanka.
Meanwhile, Sam Curran has been leading England’s attack with the ball in commanding fashion since the first game where he took a five-for against Afghanistan. England have been relying on his skills particularly in the death but because India’s batting is front-loaded and a perceived weakness against left-arm pace, there could be a change in tactics. But one can expect Curran to deliver, regardless.
Mark Wood has been a revelation with his raw pace but is an injury doubt for the clash.
Adil Rashid’s spin has been a key part of England’s attack for years in this format in conjunction with Moeen Ali but it remains a concern because it is all-rounder Liam Livingstone who has picked up three wickets so far. Displaying vulnerability in spin against India is simply not an option but Rashid’s match-winning performance against Sri Lanka augurs well for the side.
Top England batters in Super 12s
Top England bowlers in Super 12s
Curran vs Suryakumar/Kohli: India may be slow starters and their powerplay isn’t the strongest suit across all teams in the tournament but their acceleration in the death has been the highlight of their batting approach. It largely comes down to the presence of Suryakumar and Kohli in the match during those overs. The former has added 88* runs for India in death overs in the World Cup, and that is the most runs for India during that period in a T20I series. Meanwhile, Kohli has added a massive 82* runs as well. Up against them is Curran, who is thriving for England this World Cup.
Bhuvneshwar vs Buttler: Bhuvneshwar Kumar has delivered three maidens in the tournament and picked up six wickets. His bowling in the powerplay in particular has been a highlight. Added to this is the fact that the eight times Buttler has faced Bhuvneshwar in this format, he has been dismissed five times. Even in the T20I series in July, it was the Indian pacer who had the upperhand in that contest. Preventing the swashbuckling opener from settling is key for India and they would be counting on Bhuvneshwar’s experience to come through for that. Buttler was specifically asked about this unfavourable match-up and his response was to say his plan is to deal with the ball and not the bowler.
Battle of spinners – Ashwin-Axar/Chahal vs Rashid-Moeen: The Indian spinners, so far, have collectively picked up nine wickets while the English spinners have collectively picked up only one. Simply based on numbers and current form, India have the upperhand but they will need to have their plans sorted to prevent the England batters from targeting the shorter square boundaries at Adelaide. The set of spinners doing well in their eight (if that) overs could well determine the outcome of the match on what is expected to be a used pitch.
India captain Rohit Sharma on being adaptable to conditions: “I remember talking about coming out and playing fearlessly for a number of months now, but certainly in this tournament it has not happened quite well for us because looking at how the conditions are here, you just don’t want to come out and swing your bat; you want to understand the conditions. The ball is swinging a little more than what we have experienced in the last year.
So you’ve got to respect that condition. It’s not just us; you can see the number from the entire tournament of the powerplay overs from all teams. It’s not been that great from all the teams.
It’s only because of the conditions that has to offer, and I thought that is where our adaptability came into the picture, and guys adapted quite well, understood the situation and played accordingly, which is a good sign. That is what a good team can do, adapt quickly, assess the conditions really quick, because it’s not – we don’t have too much time here.”
England captain Jos Buttler on Adelaide being the venue where English cricket had a turning point in 2015 after a defeat vs Bangladesh: “Yeah, we were actually just talking about that in the dressing room, a few of us were – anytime you go back to certain grounds there’s some moments or memories that were – and not always good ones, unfortunately. But yeah, absolutely. I think it’s been clear to see the change in sort of mindset in English cricket towards the white ball game since that game went that way and especially the way we’ve played. As you’ve mentioned, the way we’ve played has given us better results, so that gives us a lot of trust in that process that it works.
“I think even going back to the Pakistan tour, some younger guys coming into the group, there seems an engrained way of playing now in English cricket. It’s been a fantastic journey to be involved in. Going back to that point, as you said, it was a real line in the sand, I would say, that moment in English white ball cricket, and to be now into a semifinal and going to tournaments with a level of expectation that we should perform well is a great place to be as a team.”
India: Rohit Sharma (c), KL Rahul, Virat Kohli, Suryakumar Yadav, Deepak Hooda, Rishabh Pant, Dinesh Karthik, Hardik Pandya, R Ashwin, Yuzvendra Chahal, Axar Patel, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Harshal Patel, Arshdeep Singh, Mohammad Shami.
England: Jos Buttler (c), Moeen Ali, Harry Brook, Sam Curran, Chris Jordan, Liam Livingstone, Dawid Malan, Adil Rashid, Phil Salt, Ben Stokes, Tymal Mills, David Willey, Chris Woakes, Mark Wood, Alex Hales.
All stats tables courtesy ESPNcricinfo Statsguru. India’s semifinal against India will begin at the Adelaide Oval at 1.30 pm IST on Thursday, November 10.