From hyping up England as outlandish favourites, the English press have plunged into panic. “England can still win the World Cup, but do they deserve it” from the Guardian stable or the more resigned “We are at it again” tone of the Daily Mail. The Independent sensed melancholy and blared: “Ghosts of England’s past loom large ahead of crunch clash with India.” Two defeats were all it took for the slumberous English media, their gaze swayed by the women’s football World Cup, to stop yawning and trundle out doomsday stuff. A perception Jonny Bairstow agrees:
“They were waiting for us to fail.” But don’t they do it with some relish!
And in a season of uncanny coincidences, they are harping on another one (unrelated to Pakistan and 1992): Two decades ago, India knocked England out of their home World Cup at Edgbaston.
Warning, an Indian bear-pit
England won’t be intimidated by just Kohli or Bumrah. 19.8 percent of England’s population comprises Indians, Pakistanis and Bangladeshis, so the un-English feel and tenor. Some, who were part of the 2013 Champions Trophy final at the venue, which India snuck in by five runs, actually fear the crowd. James Tredwell, who faced the final ball of the match, when he let a Miandad moment slip through him, recalled the match to The Telegraph with a sense of dread, as if the memories hung over uninvitedly: “The vast majority of the crowd were Indian supporters. It was really loud the whole day with trumpets and various instruments.”
Moeen Ali was stunned when he was booed by a majority of the fans at this venue. Well, it was his hometown too. An emotional Ali had then burst out: “The only thing that really hurt me was the booing. I live 10 minutes away [from Edgbaston] and I’m getting booed by people who I feel I’m supposed to represent, which is a big shame. I don’t know what it is, maybe it’s because my background is from Kashmir. People have the right to support who they want of course but I’m hoping in the future maybe they or their kids will become England fans and players.” Five years, though, has calmed Moeen. In a column for the Guardian, he wrote: “I probably took it more personally than I would do now. I’d like to think we’ve all grown up a bit since.”
Eng rely on Afghan foresight
Nasser Hussain feels India may not be able to cope if the England batsman play to their usual standard on Sunday. “I am not sure they (India) can go up if England do raise the bar in terms of a batting total. That, plus the fact that India’s batsmen did not particularly play the Afghanistan spinners well and England’s recent statistics versus spin are excellent, is why I think they are vulnerable,” Hussain wrote in Daily Mail.
The absence of Shikhar Dhawan has also left India a bit short, he felt. “It must not be forgotten that Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma and MS Dhoni are three of the best players in ODI history but the loss of Shikhar Dhawan to injury, and moving of KL Rahul to open, has left a hole at No 4. This is one of the areas to be exploited.
“When batting, England have to target India’s fifth bowler in Hardik Pandya. If it is a spinning pitch, he cannot be allowed to bowl his 10 overs for 40-50 runs. He has to ‘go’.”
Contrary to criticism, Hussain doesn’t feel England are one-dimensional. “It is not, as some people are saying, that they have been caught out. It is that they have not adapted as well recently… They have been a bit reactive and it is important not to be so. India and Australia have realised that this has become a slightly old-fashioned World Cup, where a score of 250-280 will do nicely. That is a thing England have to be discussing.”.
Dossier ready, execution awaited
Ahead of the win-or-bust game against India on Sunday, The Telegraph (London) has tried to make the job a tad simpler for Eoin Morgan and Trevor Bayliss. In an article: ‘How to dismiss India’s top order’, Cricviz analyst Patrick Noone has laid down the plans for the England bowlers to be employed against Virat Kohli and company.
For Rohit Sharma, away-goer is the gun ball, with the paper mentioning that the Indian opener’s “strike-rate against away-swingers is 52.90, and to balls that move away off the pitch he scores at just 70.83”. For KL Rahul, it’s the other way round. “Rahul can be targeted with the full in-swinger aimed at his stumps. His strike-rate to balls that swing in is just 48.71 and he averages 10.50 against balls from seamers that are going on to hit the stumps.” Rahul, according to the analyst, is also vulnerable to the deliveries that land a fraction short of the block-hole. “Across all formats in England, he has been bowled or LBW nine times by quick bowlers.”
Kohli doesn’t have any discernable weakness. Still, the England bowlers have been advised to “try and get the ball to nip back in to him – his strike rate against in-seamers is 60.97.” It added: “If the ball is swinging, Kohli is weaker when it moves away from him – his strike-rate is 72.27 and his average 39.75 to away swingers, compared to 90.03 and 93.33 to in-swingers.”
While “good length outside off” slows down Vijay Shankar “significantly”, Kedar Jadhav can be “tied down” by “seamers bowling a tight stump-to-stump line, ideally with the ball seaming in towards him”. Jadhav’s strike-rate “to balls seaming in is 69.23”…
Taking pace off the ball and/or spin “restricts” MS Dhoni. “Slower balls are a good attacking option to Dhoni early in his innings. He averages 10.50 against balls below 75mph and has a strike rate of just 75 against those balls. Alternatively, bowling spin to Dhoni restricts him (strike-rate of 60.73, 80.21 v seam) but he is harder to dislodge with a spin than seam”… As for Hardik Pandya, it should be “tight outside off – no spin”. “Do not bowl spin. Hardik averages 73.00 against spinners in the early part of his innings and strikes at 136.87,” the analyst said. ENS