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The burning issues surrounding England’s crunch clash with India

Back-to-back defeats have piled the pressure on Eoin Morgan’s side.

The pressure is on Eoin Morgan and his England team (Steven Paston/PA)
The pressure is on Eoin Morgan and his England team (Steven Paston/PA)

England head into their penultimate World Cup group game vulnerable after back-to-back defeats against Sri Lanka and Australia.

That their opponents are India, the side who have just leapfrogged them on top of the world rankings, only increases the potential for drama. Here, PA assesses the talking points.

England fit for purpose?

England have two crucial decisions to make, over opener Jason Roy’s
hamstring and paceman Jofra Archer’s nagging side problem. One has been sorely missed during a three-game absence and the other is the team’s leading wicket-taker. Captain Eoin Morgan has hinted selection may have to be a judgement call, with an element of risk lingering over both men. The verdict they reach, and how successful it proves, promises to be critical to the result.

Home or away?

England have found to their displeasure that home advantage at a World Cup does not extend to pitches – which have been slower and more bowler-friendly than they like – and this clash is set to feel like a fully-fledged away game. Birmingham’s large British Asian community always makes itself heard when India are in town and with a few secondary ticket sales factored in, the majority of supporters at Edgbaston will be pulling for Virat Kohli’s men. Already in a tight spot, how will England react to this extra factor?

Jonny be good?

Jonny Bairstow is a player who seems to thrive on adversity, churning out some of his best knocks when he feels under pressure or believes he is being challenged in a new or unfamiliar position. A tetchy media appearance following defeat to Australia, during which he suggested some pundits were willing the team to fail, hinted that he was working himself into a siege mentality that could yet pay dividends, even if former England captain Michael Vaughan did not see it that way. His battling century in Colombo last winter, one game after being left out of the Test side, was one of his best ever and how England need him to deliver another statement here.

In a spin

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Kuldeep Yadav poses a threat to England (Nigel French/PA)

At the start of the tournament England found themselves confounded by spin, with South Africa and Pakistan both reaping the rewards of opening up with a leg-break bowler. The response to this apparent weakness was emphatic against Afghanistan, Morgan leading the way as the world’s premier white-ball spinner, Rashid Khan, conceded eye-watering figures of 9-0-110-0. On a pitch that can offer big turn, Yuvzendra Chahal (10 World Cup wickets at 24.10) and Kuldeep Yadav, who took six for 25 in his first outing against England, will surely re-examine the theory.

Orange is the new blue

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Virat Kohli shows off the new India shirt (Steven Paston/PA)

India will be wearing a brand new shirt for the game, part of the sport’s recent embrace of away kits. Instead of their traditional light blue, which clashes with England’s retro effort, India will be wearing a large splash of orange balanced by dark blue on the front and collar. Kohli has already offered his seal of approval, awarding it an eight out of 10. “I really like it, the contrast is nice. It’s a nice change for one game”, he said.

PA

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