England captain Eoin Morgan has urged his side to be flexible now that their World Cup hopes are in the balance.
An England team widely tipped to end their World Cup drought will be on the verge of a first-round exit if they lose to unbeaten India at Edgbaston on Sunday before their concluding round-robin match with New Zealand.
Despite coming into the World Cup as the top-ranked side in one-day internationals, England have lost three pool matches, including their last two against Sri Lanka and reigning champions Australia.
AFP/File / Dibyangshu Sarkar Virat Kohli’s India are unbeaten at the World Cup
To make matters worse for the home side, opener Jonny Bairstow has found himself involved in a public row with former England captain Michael Vaughan, who labelled his fellow Yorkshire cricketer’s claim that people are waiting for the hosts to fail at the World Cup “negative” and “pathetic”.
England’s white-ball revival from the depths of their first-round exit at the 2015 World Cup was built on aggressive top-order batting that saw them compile huge totals.
But they have been unable to adjust their game on the more bowler-friendly surfaces at this World Cup.
– ‘Bigger challenge’ –
“I can’t fault the commitment or application that the guys have produced in every single game. Where we’ve let ourselves down as a group is adapting to conditions,” Morgan said Saturday.
“It’s been a bigger challenge in this World Cup than previous bilateral series. We’re going to have to adapt to conditions, adapt to playing against a strong side in India.”
England’s two most recent defeats have coincided with the absence through a hamstring injury of Jason Roy, with replacement James Vince struggling to fill the gap left by the Surrey opener.
Morgan said Roy, who smashed 153 against Bangladesh, was “preparing to play tomorrow”.
He gave a similar response in relation to fast bowler Jofra Archer, who has a side strain.
“Jofra is going to see how it is. It is the same thing he has been playing with the last three games. We will see how he comes through,” Morgan said.
“The exact same rule applies. If it is going to rule him out long-term then we won’t play him. If it risks him short-term, then yes.”
England’s dilemma was summed up by Ben Stokes after his 89 failed to prevent a 64-run defeat by Australia at Lord’s on Tuesday.
“We just need to adjust to situations and then conditions, but we are not for one minute going to take a backward step,” he said.
Sunday’s match may well feel like an away game as India fans could constitute the majority of the Edgbaston crowd.
Two-time champions India will guarantee a place in the semi-finals if they win, although there are concerns they are too reliant on captain Virat Kohli for runs.
Kohli, the world’s top-ranked Test and ODI batsman, has hit four consecutive half-centuries and on Thursday became the fastest batsmen to 20,000 international runs across all formats.
“I would say that’s a lie if I say I’m not under pressure,” Kohli told reporters on Saturday. “That is the excitement that all of us carry as international cricketers — to walk into a pressure situation and come out on top.”
Kohli, whose side have replaced England at the top of the ODI rankings, said he was taken aback by the hosts’ form.
“Look, everyone is a bit surprised. We thought England is probably going to dominate in their own conditions.
“But as I said at the beginning of the tournament in the press conference, that pressure is going to be a massive factor to handle and low scores are going to be defended,” he added.
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