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England v India: Three key World Cup battles

Off-spinner Moeen Ali has been England's go-to man in crunch situations and proved to be a handful against India in the 2018 Test series

England v India: Three key World Cup battles
Photo: AFP

Birmingham: England face India on Sunday knowing they need two wins to guarantee a place in the semi-finals at their own World Cup.

The hosts, led by Eoin Morgan, are in danger of seeing their dream slip away after defeats by Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Australia.

Virat Kohli’s India, who have just replaced England at the top of the one-day international rankings, are not the team the hosts would have chosen to face, with five wins out of six matches plus one washout.

AFP Sport looks at three key battles ahead of the match at Edgbaston:

Morgan v Kohli – captaincy battle

Morgan has exemplified England’s aggressive brand of cricket since their first-round exit in the 2015 World Cup, but his leadership in another pressure-cooker situation is once again facing a stern examination.

The 32-year-old batsman scored a career-best 148 in England’s comprehensive victory against Afghanistan but failed to fire in the team’s subsequent two defeats.

Can he inspire his side to book a final-four berth? That is the question English fans are asking and a win against Kohli’s all-conquering team would go a long way to providing the answer, with a final match against New Zealand to follow.

Kohli has led by example, with four successive World Cup half-centuries, even though he is yet to notch a century.

But the star batsman, with 20,000 international runs under his belt, is always dangerous on the biggest stage and few would bet against him reaching three figures when it most counts.

Archer v Bumrah – pace attack

Jofra Archer has justified the hype that surrounded his selection in England’s World Cup squad, taking 16 wickets in his seven outings.

His ability to bowl at a fearsome pace gives Morgan’s team an added dimension and he will pose a threat to India’s celebrated top order.

But India can also boast significant firepower, with the world’s top ODI bowler, Jasprit Bumrah, leading an attack that includes the impressive Mohammed Shami and Bhuvneshwar Kumar.

Bumrah, who bowls with an unorthodox sling-arm action, has claimed nine wickets in five matches and has one of the best economy rates of 4.45 in the tournament.

Twists and turns

Off-spinner Moeen Ali has been England’s go-to man in crunch situations and proved to be a handful against India in the 2018 Test series, claiming 12 wickets in the two matches he played.

Moeen and leg-spinner Adil Rashid have combined to take 12 wickets at the World Cup and they are set to be a key part of England’s plans after India struggled against Afghanistan’s spinners in Southampton last week.

India wrist-spinners Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal have been a big factor in their side’s recent successes in limited-overs cricket.

Chahal, who has taken 10 wickets in five games, and Yadav are both likely to be deployed at Edgbaston unless Kohli plans to use the left-arm spin of Ravindra Jadeja instead.

But either way, a match-up between the English and Indian spinners is bound to add intrigue.

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