India will have to play their best cricket to beat defending champions England in their ICC World T20 Group A match at the Premadasa in Colombo on Sunday night.
It’s the biggest match-up of the 12-team tournament so far. Both teams have qualified for the super-eight stage and though this fact takes a bit of pressure off them, the game is a battle for supremacy. Whoever comes out on top will lead Group A.
Ahead of the contest, it’s India that look in crisis. Their 23-run win against Afghanistan was far from convincing, a fact admitted by captain MS Dhoni himself. Bowling is actually Dhoni’s gravest concern. The Indian bowlers don’t look equal to the task and the biggest worry is Zaheer Khan who seems to have lost all he is known to possess. It difficult to imagine that he conceded 32 run in three overs against the Afghan batsmen still in their salad days. India need him to fire on Sunday if they are to get the better of Stuart Broad’s men.
India’s batting looks in relatively decent shape with Virat Kohli, Yuvraj Singh, Rohit Sharma, Suresh Raina and Dhoni looking in solid nick. However, there is a slight concern with the openers. Virender Sehwag and Gautam have been a bit out of form of late, and they need to get it right against England. A good start can do wonders to the team.
England, on the other hand, were mighty convincing during their 116-run win against Afghanistan the other night. The way Luke Wright - until a few weeks ago not even starter in this side - batted for his unbeaten 99 showed that he seems to finally have come of age as an international cricketer. He has long been tipped as a T20 specialist but it’s only recently that he has started living up to that reputation. England also have some really exciting youngsters in Alex Hales, Jos Buttler and Jonny Bairstow who have been tipped as the next big things in English cricket.
England’s batting is nowhere near as experienced as India’s but it has enough firepower to give India a good run for their money. What gives England the upper hand is their world-class bowling. Steve Finn, Jade Dernbach, Graeme Swann and Broad himself seem to be a cut above Zaheer and company. Then they have allrounders like Wright and Samit Patel to send down a few useful overs.
The match also revives the great rivalry between Yuvraj and Broad. Remember, it was Yuvraj who hit the England bowler for six consecutive sixes in an over in the inaugural World Twenty20 in South Africa in 2007. Broad has since matured into a world class bowler, while Yuvraj has recently come back from cancer. It can’t be said he is the same player he was five years ago, still old rivalries can sometimes bring out the best in you. Yuvraj’s fans would hope that that happens.
As far as head-to-head is concerned, England enjoy a handsome lead. In four ties so far, they have lost to India just once - also winning the last three encounters.
India: 1 Virender Sehwag, 2 Gautam Gambhir, 3 Virat Kohli, 4 Rohit Sharma, 5 Yuvraj Singh, 6 Suresh Raina, 7 MS Dhoni (capt/wk), 8 Irfan Pathan, 9 Zaheer Khan, 10 R Ashwin, 11 L Balaji
England: 1 Craig Kieswetter (wk), 2 Alex Hales, 3 Luke Wright, 4 Eoin Morgan, 5 Jos Buttler, 6 Jonny Bairstow, 7 Samit Patel, 8 Stuart Broad (capt), 9 Graeme Swann, 10 Stuart Finn, 11 Jade Dernbach