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England vs WI: Places up for grabs in World Cup

England will be out if they lose to Windies today but the result will hand QF berths to India,Bangladesh.

Written by G.S. Vivek | Chennai |
March 17, 2011 12:35:34 am

England will not only have the unpredictable and talented West Indies to deal with in their do-or-die game but will also have to overcome the power of the prayers of fanatical and passionate fans from both India and Bangladesh on Thursday. For if England lose it will mean that India and Bangladesh,along with West Indies and South Africa,will advance to the quarters from Group A.

England have lived on the edge in this World Cup. Among the several thrilling games they have played here included a tie against India,a low-scoring win over South Africa,a shocking loss to Ireland and close loss to Bangladesh.

How much the topsy-turvy campaign has affected the morale of Andrew Strauss’s side will be clear when they take the field against West Indies. Each member of the side will know that a slip-up will simply mean an early flight home.

Shahzad doubtful

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InjurIES and ill-health have plagued the England side in the competition. On Tuesday,skipper Strauss and star spinner Graeme Swann missed training after being affected by a stomach bug.

On the eve of the game,Strauss confirmed that he and his star offie were recovering well. But the absence of pacer Ajmal Shahzad at nets put a question mark over his fitness and availability.

In case Shahzad doesn’t make the cut,pressure on pace spearhead James Anderson,who was seen working out with the medicine ball,will increase.

Anderson hasn’t been too effective during the World Cup and Strauss will hope that his strike bowler returns to form for the crunch game on Thursday.

At the other end of ground,batsmen Matt Prior and Eoin Morgan were unleashing a barrage of shots to get into groove. Like Anderson,Prior and Morgan will be as crucial for the game against West Indies.

Against the West Indies batting line-up,which has big-hitters at the top of the order and an experienced middle-order,England’s bowling attack will be under pressure,a situation they haven’t responded well to as a team. With West Indies to play India on Sunday,they have a game in hand in case they lose against England.

Spin in the air

The pitch here has received extra care. It has been watered frequently and has been kept under a canopy-like covers to protect it from the harsh sun,but the red soil base will encourage spin. Locals say that a par score at the venue happens to be between 250 and 275.

Both sides will be looking to add an extra spinner keeping in mind the nature of the pitch. This could see left-arm spinners Nikita Miller and Michael Yardy enter the equation.

Chris Gayle has always been a factor in every game. His return to the side after recovering from the abdominal strain will not be good news for the England attack.

If Gayle fires at the top,then the West Indies have Keiron Pollard lower down the order to boost their total. After being at the receiving end of Ireland’s Kevin O’Brien’s century,the fastest ever in a World Cup,England will be wary of another bout of individual brilliance from an opposition batsman.

And with the Indian fans rooting for a West Indies win,England can be assured that they won’t get much support from the crowd at the MA Chidambaram stadium. Unless of course they play some brilliant cricket,which is the need of the hour.

Who wins,who loses

If England win: A win over the West Indies on Thursday would mean that England finish on seven points. This should be enough to take them into the quarter-finals,unless Bangladesh beat South Africa on Saturday and West Indies beat India in the final league match. In that case,both England and India will be on seven points,leaving net run rate to decide who advances.

If West Indies win: England will automatically exit the competition if West Indies wins. This would also ensure qualification for West Indies,India and Bangladesh — the matches between South Africa and Bangladesh and between India and West Indies will merely help decide the placings in the group.

If the match is tied/no result: England will have six points,and West Indies seven. West Indies and India will go through,and England will hope that Bangladesh,on six points,lose to South Africa. England’s superior net run rate should see them through in this scenario,but even a single point against South Africa will ensure Bangladesh’s progress.

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