Chennai: Before the start of the World Cup, the contest between India and England was touted to be the game of the tournament but the then World No. 1 in ODI rankings, England, have lost three of their seven games so far and are on the verge of a disappointing exit from the World Cup.
India, meanwhile, enjoyed a dominant run, remaining the only unbeaten team and also pipped England to climb to the top of World ODI rankings. The two sides will now face each other in an all-important clash where one team will look to secure a last-four spot while the other will be keen to remain alive.
The pitch at Birmingham aided spin in the last game, which Pakistan won comfortably against New Zealand, adds to the worries of the home side. England has enjoyed success on flat tracks but when it comes to slow pitches, the team has so far struggled and it remains to be seen how the batting clicks if the same pitch is used.
India, on the other hand, had adjusted their game plan according to conditions so far and the spin attack, led by the spin twins, will be in full flow on the Birmingham track.
Captain Morgan will also want his opener Jason Roy to be fit for the clash. Roy has missed three games so far after suffering an injury to his hamstring and since then, James Vince failed miserably opening the innings, scoring 26,14 and zero in the three matches.
Roy is undergoing fitness tests and his returning to the side will give a boost to the hosts’ batting order. Roy has scored two half-centuries and 153 in the tournament so far.
Another fitness concern is that of Jofra Archer: the fast bowler wasn’t at his best against Australia in the last game as he had issues with a side strain. Morgan will also want his main strike bowler, who
features among the top wicket-takers of the tournament, to return to his marauding best and give a tough challenge to India.
With Liam Dawson being the only other spinner in the squad, England might probably play with the same team and much will be expected from Moeen Ali and Joe Root as they will be rolling their arms, supporting Adil Rashid.
For India, there are no concerns in terms of bowling as Mohammad Shami has taken two back-to-back four-wicket hauls after replacing Bhuvneshwar Kumar. Though Bhuvi is fit, India, in all likelihood will
persist with Shami.
The only talking point for India, however, is the batsman at No. 4. With K L Rahul opening the innings, Vijay Shankar was given the opportunity but he is yet to give a convincing performance with the
bat with scores of 29 and 14 in the two innings he played.
Vijay Shankar’s bowling, too, hasn’t been utilised so far and since he is playing mainly as a batsman, it remains to be seen whether India would replace him with either Dinesh Karthik or Rishabh Pant.