Cricket World Cup 2019: Three key match-ups that could decide England v India
Tournament hosts face a fight to reach the semi-finals with two games remaining in the group stage
Even with three matches still to play in the group stage of the Cricket World Cup, unbeaten India are all but assured of a place in the semi-finals.
Hosts England, meanwhile, are stuttering nervously, knowing that any slip up in their last two matches, against India on Sunday and New Zealand on Wednesday, could cost them qualification.
Given the relative merits of the two sides, any of the 22 players could prove to be the match winner at Edgbaston, but these three match ups could go a long way to deciding who ends up on top.
Jofra Archer v Rohit Sharma
Given his newness to the international scene, Archer’s consistency in this World Cup has been extraordinary. He has taken three wickets in an innings in five of England’s seven matches so far.
Tellingly, though, when England were under most pressure, he erred. His worst performance was in the loss to Pakistan, while against Australia last time out, he was not able to make the early incisions England needed.
Maybe he is not as cool as he looks. Maybe it is not possible to be as cool as Jofra Archer looks.
England really need him to bring his A game, to quell the substantial threat of Rohit Sharma.
India’s opening great has missed out in his past two trips to the crease, against West Indies and Afghanistan. He seldom goes for longer than that without a score.
Jasprit Bumrah v Jos Buttler
This match up assumes the game is close enough that Jos Buttler funkiness versus Jasprit Bumrah late-over cool is going to matter at all.
If these two do get to meet when the game is counting down, it will be gripping viewing: they are both pressure-overs titans, as seen in both the Indian Premier League and the international game.
Buttler has been shackled just lately. He is without a score of note since his 44-ball 64 in the thrashing of Bangladesh in Cardiff five games ago.
Jasprit Bumrah, for his part, has been his usual consistent self throughout. His economy rate of 4.45 is bettered only by teammate Kuldeep Yadav (4.40) among players who have bowled more than 40 overs in the tournament.
Chris Woakes v MS Dhoni
England’s cricketers reckon their teammate Chris Woakes is a bit like Mr Perfect: he bats, bowls and fields well – and is, they all say, a lovely chap to boot.
He must also be pretty cool under pressure, too, given that he is usually tasked with bowling the 50th over of ODIs for England.
If this game is to finish close, then he could well find himself having to try to out-think the master-finisher, MS Dhoni.
Whisper it, but Dhoni has been showing signs of his age just lately. He struggled to up the rate in India’s out-of-sorts batting display against Afghanistan, while he let through nine byes against West Indies last time out.
Still, though, if it does get tight at the end, there are few people that Indians would prefer to have fighting their corner.
Updated: June 29, 2019 11:00 AM