England looked the best side going into the World Cup. The hiccup against Ireland exposed some vulnerabilities. By the time they reached the semis, the aura around the team had lost some lustre.
Meanwhile, as the tournament progressed, India found solutions to some niggling issues carried from home, fine-tuned tactics with smart results, and with key players hitting rich form, started looking and playing like a formidable team.
Going into this match, India start favourites. Unlike England, still unsure about Dawid Malan and Mark Wood, there are no injury issues for Rohit Sharma to worry about. Nor indeed major concerns about form.
His top batsmen and main bowlers look primed for the task. KL Rahul, Virat Kohli, Suryakumar Yadav, and the pace trio of Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohammed Shami and Arshdeep Singh have been consistently outstanding.
Yes, some more runs from Rohit himself would have been reassuring. But the Indian captain hasn’t looked out of sorts, like say Liam Livingstone or Moeen Ali. Rather, he has wasted good starts.
He needs to take a leaf out of the playbook of Pakistan skipper Babar Azam, who shone on Wednesday, without having put a foot right throughout the tournament earlier. Or Jos Buttler, the England captain, who too had wasted opportunities in early matches, cut the needless risks and hit peak form heading into the semis.
Ben Stokes gradually coming into his own works plus a deep batting also works to England’s advantage.
How the Adelaide pitch, which has seen a great deal of wear and tear, will play, could be the major factor in the outcome, but even more how players from both teams absorb the pressure of the occasion.
In Wednesday’s semifinal, Pakistan turned the tables on New Zealand with a tremendous all-round performance that left the Kiwis flightless.
Mega contests demand detailed, methodical planning and strategy, true. But don't discount inspiration. Ask Pakistan, it can work wonders!
India vs England, November 10, Adelaide, 12 pm (UAE Time)
Virat Kohli, Suryakumar Yadav, Arshdeep Singh, Jos Buttler, Ben Stokes
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