T20 World Cup semis: Can Men in Blue exorcise their 2022 demons against England?

Jasprit Bumrah’s return and helpful conditions in Guyana may tilt the scales a bit in their favour

The Men in Blue in West Indies (photo: ICC)
The Men in Blue in West Indies (photo: ICC)

Gautam Bhattacharyya

The crunch moment has finally arrived. After taking the rough with the smooth in their stride in this T20 World Cup campaign quite well so far, the Men in Blue are now two matches away from ending their drought of a ICC crown – and this is where their troubles began over a decade ago.

Of course, there is no need to remind the Indian fan about that fateful night of Ahmedabad in 2023, when India lost to Australia in the World Cup finals.

This time around, the foes are again familiar, as it was Jos Buttler’s England less than two years back in 2022 that hammered India by 10 wickets in the semi-final at Adelaide, but Rohit Sharma and company would do well to remember that tomorrow (27 June 2024) is another day.

Buttler and Alex Hales then made short work of the Indian attack, which, significantly, did not have a certain Jasprit Bumrah in its ranks. Ever since his comeback from a career-threatening injury a year back, Bumrah has wielded a tremendous psychological impact on rival batters—with his economy rate in the ongoing tournament setting him a class apart from others of his ilk.

He is again going to be the key at the Guyana National Stadium on Thursday, 27 June 2024 though the track's reputation offers some turn and bite that could have the Indian spinners licking their lips in glee. Morever, there is a strong forecast for rain in Guyana that could put the semi-final match in jeopardy.

Ever since the tournament shifted entirely to the Caribbean  from the Super 8 stage, India have rightly brought in Kuldeep Yadav in place of Mohammed Siraj in an otherwise settled combination.

The biggest area of concern for India, no prizes for guessing, had been the form of Virat Kohli up the order. The team management's calculated gamble has proved to be a failure so far, and there’s no other option at this juncture but to hope that the master batter – who had been in great nick in recent times – gets his mojo back just in time.  

England, meanwhile, has history beckoning them as they are two games away from becoming the first men’s team to retain a T20 World Cup. Unlike India, which has had an unbeaten run in six games so far (and an abandoned tie against Canada), England has, by contrast, come up the hard way.

A rained-off match against Scotland was followed by a loss to Australia at the start of their campaign, leaving them needing huge wins and favours from elsewhere to reach the Super Eights. 

However, they had their prayers answered and qualified ahead of Scotland on Net Run Rate (NRR). In the Super Eight, a loss to South Africa meant England were sweating somewhat, despite already having comfortably beaten hosts West Indies.

That win proved crucial, giving them a significant Net Run Rate advantage that they boosted further with a hammering of the USA to qualify with a game to spare effectively.  

They will certainly take the lifeline and go for the kill. India, on the other hand, will look to ride on the momentum of their last win against Australia and to exorcise their knockout demons yet again!

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