ICC World Cup: India Out To Deliver Knockout Blow On England Title Defence
The undefeated hosts can aim to plant one foot in the knockout stages, while defending champions England simply must beat India to keep their own semi-final hopes alive.
India and England are playing out totally distinct campaigns at the ICC Men's Cricket World Cup 2023.
The hosts are undefeated after five matches and surging towards the semi-finals, while England are only off the bottom of the standings on net run rate and all but out of contention to join the pointy end of the tournament.
India have mostly looked irrepressible as they brushed aside each of their five opponents so far but will still be wary of a defending champion now well and truly on the ropes.
A well-balanced attack has been a key to India’s bright start with 46 of a possible 50 batters dismissed thus far, including the full allotment against Australia, Pakistan and New Zealand.
That will rightly concern an England outfit that has failed to pass 200 in their two outings since scoring 215 to fall 69 runs short in the loss to Afghanistan that in hindsight exposed a range of deficiencies.
England will still have a winding route to take to the knockout stages even if they fail to turn around their form and fortunes to snatch a victory from India.
But a fourth consecutive loss would mean England need so many results to go their way that this already looks like the titleholders' last stand.
India: Rohit Sharma (c), Hardik Pandya (vc), Shubman Gill, Virat Kohli, Shreyas Iyer, KL Rahul, Ravindra Jadeja, Shardul Thakur, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Siraj, Kuldeep Yadav, Mohammed Shami, Ravichandran Ashwin, Ishan Kishan, Suryakumar Yadav.
England: Jos Buttler (c), Moeen Ali, Gus Atkinson, Jonny Bairstow, Sam Curran, Liam Livingstone, Dawid Malan, Adil Rashid, Joe Root, Harry Brook, Ben Stokes, Brydon Carse, David Willey, Mark Wood, Chris Woakes.
India - Mohammed Shami
The India pacer was forced to watch on as the hosts opened their campaign with four comprehensive victories.
But Shami made the most of his opportunity when called into the side in place of the injured Hardik Pandya with a barnstorming 5/54 in a top-of-the-table clash with New Zealand.
Shami’s immediate impact was enough to earn him the Player of the Match award and should ensure the right-arm speedster holds his place in the India attack against England.
The defending champions already have plenty to worry about but now need to also be wary of Shami as a World Cup weapon with 36 scalps at an average of 15.02 in 12 matches across the showpiece events of the 50-over format.
England - Ben Stokes
The England red-ball captain was famously the hero in their pair of white-ball title triumphs at the Cricket World Cup on home soil in 2019 and the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup last year.
Stokes hinted that he might inspire another great escape when guiding England from 68/3 to 137/8 against Sri Lanka, but despite compiling 43 runs of his own he ultimately lacked the form and fitness to turn the game again.
The 32-year-old made a delayed start to England’s title defence after battling a hip issue, and has been ruled out from bowling at the tournament, but now has two knocks under his belt to rediscover some polish.
With England’s hopes of reaching the knockout stages fading more with every outing, the clash with hosts India is the ideal - and perhaps last - opportunity at this tournament for another Stokes special.