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If England Get Rid Of Kohli, Surya Early...

By HARISH KOTIAN
November 09, 2022 09:12 IST
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Out of India's total tally of 842 runs in five games, the duo has rattled up 471 runs -- which accounts to 55 percent of the runs -- at a strike rate of 160.

IMAGE: Will England's bowlers stop the rampaging duo of Virat Kohli and Suryakumar Yadav in the semi-finals? Photograph: Francois Nel/Getty Images
 

India shocked the cricketing world when a young team under Mahendra Singh Dhoni won the inaugural T20 World Cup in South Africa in 2007.

That famous triumph which made the Indians wake up to T20 cricket also went a long way in setting up the base for the IPL a year later, which has since gone on to become one of the most followed sporting leagues in the world.

After the advent of the IPL despite featuring some of the top T20 stars, India have always return empty-handed from T20 World Cups.

The closest India came to the title was in 2014 when they finished runners up to Sri Lanka in Dhaka.

This year, the Indian team look determined to end their long drought for a T20 World Cup title and have certainly come up with some top-notch performances in the group stages to back their status as one of the competition favourites.

India's biggest superstar Virat Kohli is back with a bang! No one will ever forget his match-winning epic against Pakistan in the opening match when he literally dragged India from a difficult position to victory with some magnificent strokeplay at the MCG.

Kohli has proved to be unstoppable with the bat, with 246 runs at an average of 123, with three fifties in five games.

Stealing Kohli's limelight is Suryakumar Yadav, the new Mr 360 of T20 cricket.

Surya has taken his batting to a completely different level and thrashing bowlers all across the ground has become a constant feature of his batting.

He has smashed his way to 225 at an amazing strike rate of 193 with three fifties.

To put it in numbers, Kohli and Surya have together scored more than 50 percent of the runs the Indian team has scored in the five games in the Super 12s.

Out of India's total tally of 842 runs in five games, the duo has rattled up 471 runs -- which accounts to 55 percent of the runs -- at a strike rate of 160.

All of India will be hoping the two are still not finished and have two more big knocks coming in the semis and final.

England's bowlers better come up with some good plans against Surya or else he could take the game away in a matter of a few overs.

Opening has been a slight problem with K L Rahul inconsistent and Rohit Sharma struggling for runs, but Kohli and Surya have played the rescue act quite often and once again the duo will be key to India's hopes.

India's only worry is if the two perish cheaply as the middle and lower order hasn't inspired much confidence.

Hardik Pandya and Axar Patel haven't been among the runs, while Dinesh Karthik after a run of poor scores has made way for Rishabh Pant, who failed in his only outing against Bangladesh.

India's bowling has been excellent overall. Despite missing Jasprit Bumrah, India's pacers have quietly gone about their task, making most of some rare bowler-friendly conditions in T20 cricket courtesy of the wet Australian weather.

The young Arshdeep Singh has exceeded all expectations with 10 wickets in five games at an economy rate of just under eight, coming up with some excellent performances in the death overs -- a major worry for India going into the World Cup.

Bhuvneshwar Kumar has kept things tight with the new ball, with an impressive economy rate of 5.40 in five games, while Mohammed Shami has made a smashing comeback to the Indian T20 team with six wickets in the group stages at an economy rate of 6.11.

Experienced spinner Ravichandran Ashwin has also been steady with the ball in the middle overs, while also playing a few important cameos with the bat.

Hardik has underlined his importance with the ball with eight wickets @7.46 though his batting form is a cause of concern. Axar hasn't done much with either bat or ball and it will be interesting to see if he retains his place in the semis or India opt for a specialist leg-spinner in Yuzvendra Chahal.

England will be India's first big challenge in the World Cup. It could boil down to a mouth-watering contest between the two best batting teams in the World Cup.

IMAGE: Jos Buttler, who has had a quiet World Cup so far, will look to make an impact with the bat against India. Photograph: Mark Kolbe/Getty Images

England have a long batting line-up of power-hitters -- Jos Buttler, Alex Hales, Ben Stokes, Moeen Ali, Liam Livingstone and Harry Brook.

But England's batters, except for openers Hales and Buttler, haven't hit top form yet. Dawid Malan's injury has also come as a blow as he is set to be replaced by Phil Salt, another attacking batter.

If Arshdeep and Bhuvneshwar can get some swing early on, it could make life difficult for Hales and Buttler, but they will need to strike early as the England openers won't waste time in the Powerplay.

England have traditionally struggled against spin and India could look at bringing in a wicket-taking option like Chahal, who has been one of the top spinners in the IPL in the last few years but hasn't found favour with the team management so far.

Also, the Adelaide Oval pitch could favour a bit of spin so late in the tournament.

India's batters need to be wary of England's bowlers, who have been excellent in the group stages.

Left-arm pacer Sam Curran has picked up 10 wickets at 6.40 in four games, while fast bowler Mark Wood has bowled some hostile spells to take nine wickets.

Spinner Adil Rashid found some much-needed form in their last match against Sri Lanka while Ben Stokes and Chris Woakes are quite handy in Australian conditions.

Unlike other teams, England's bowling is relentless and India won't have the luxury of getting some easy overs against some part time bowlers.

While England's priority will be to attack early with the new ball, their major focus would be the in-form duo of Kohli and Suryakumar.

Kohli likes to take his time and the best time is to get his wicket early as once he gets set he is quite capable of making up for the slow start.

The man to watch out is Surya, who with his unorthodox shots like the scoop over fine leg, can be quite tricky to bowl at.

England might look at using Rashid's leg-spin against Surya early on or Wood's extra pace to rattle him with well-directed short balls. A crafty bowler like Curran could be a good option with his left-arm angle targetting the wide line outside the off-stump.

Pant, the only left-hander in the Indian top order, could prove to be a game-changer and could attack spinners Rashid and Moeen Ali or provide the finishing touches in the death overs.

Head to Head

India hold a slight edge with 12 wins compared to England's 10, but have won four of the last five matches.

India also hold an upperhand in T20 World Cups. India has won 2 out of 3 matches, including the 2007 and 2012 World Cup games, while they suffered a defeat to England in the 2009 edition.

Key Battles
Buttler vs Arshdeep
Hales vs Bhuvneshwar
Stokes vs Ashwin
Rahul/Rohit vs Curran/Wood
Kohli vs Stokes/Woakes
Suryakumar vs Rashid

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HARISH KOTIAN / Rediff.com

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