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Rashid back to spin England to World Cup glory

 

Raring to go: Adil Rashid
Raring to go: Adil Rashid

By Rory Dollard

Adil Rashid insists he is fully fit to play his part at the business end of the World Cup despite an ongoing shoulder problem.

The leg-spinner was the most prolific wicket-taker in one-day cricket in the four-year cycle between tournaments, with 129 dismissals in 83 games.

He has been unusually quiet on England's charge to the semi-final, though, and his numbers tell their own story.

He has just eight wickets in nine matches, an average of 54.12 and the worst economy rate in the squad at 5.85 an over.

In the last two games he has been called on to bowl only 11 overs out of a possible 20.

The 31-year-old does have mitigation, most notably a muscular impingement in his right shoulder - an issue which flared up at the start of the summer and which requires regular attention from the medical staff.

Chances have also gone begging, at least two in the deep and one missed stumping by Jos Buttler, and even though he contributed a fine run out against New Zealand, England will surely need him to relocate his best with the ball if they are to land the trophy.

"Just before the World Cup I had an injection on the shoulder problem. I had the niggle a month ago," he said. "It's all good for now, I'm 100%. There's been some games where I felt as though I've been a bit unlucky, there's been a few dropped catches and missed stumpings and whatever.

"If you take all that in, things could be completely different, I could easily be on 15 or 16 wickets.

"That's part and parcel of cricket, but we're winning and we've got through to the semis, so we're in a good place."

Rashid said on the eve of the competition the wear and tear had made his best weapon, a fizzing googly, "harder to come by" and he has certainly produced fewer magic balls than previously.

He does not shy away from the fact and has been working with former Pakistan spinner Saqlain Mushtaq to plot his way back to form.

"I'm trying to, but sometimes it can be a bit difficult," he admitted.

"That's not an excuse for not bowling it (the googly) as much, but at times it can be a bit difficult, but that's one of my strengths, my variations. For me it's just getting back to bowling my variations.

"I've been picking Saqlain's brain about how to go about things: he's played international cricket at the highest level, he's been successful in one-day cricket and Test cricket.

"Sometimes we talk about setting up batsmen or field placings."

On a selfish level Rashid would be forgiven for hoping England's next match - or next two, should they reach the Lord's showpiece - take place on turning tracks.

That would provide his best chance of a return to leading man status but it also plays against the team's strengths.

The camp rightly bristles at suggestions they are "flat track bullies" but there is a kernel of truth at the heart of that barbed compliment - in a run-fest, England rarely finish second.

"If it's a good pitch it brings out the best in our batting line-up. We bat first, we get the big scores on the board and put pressure on the batsmen," Rashid said.

"That allows myself and all the bowlers to go out there and just enjoy bowling."

• THE World Cup final will be screened on free-to-air television if England make the showpiece, Sky Sports has announced.

England will play either India or Australia in the semi-finals on Thursday and, if they are successful, the Lord's showpiece will be broadcast to the widest possible audience.

The national team have been behind a subscription paywall since 2005.

It is not yet clear which channel would carry the match.

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