Budding rivalry meets inconsequential match
September 23, 2012
Start time 1930 (1400 GMT)
Ever since England humbled India at home last year, there has existed some needle between the two. The administrators have crossed swords over DRS and IPL windows, Twitter has been a battleground for fans, even former players have had uncharitable things to say in commentary boxes ... but the real deal between India and England will be on later, played out during the Indian winter.
Still, it would have helped if their Twenty20 on Sunday were more than a glorified warm-up match. Both the sides have made it to the next round, and this game is of no consequence to anybody's fortune in this tournament. India will be the more thankful side for it. Of all the strong teams so far, India are the only one who kept their lesser opponents interested. Their bowling and fielding are in shambles, and this match gives them three extra hours to try to figure out a combination or a method that inspires more trust.
If India are built on strong and long (at least on paper) batting and an army of part-timers, England have invested in specialists: five (at least, so far) solid bowlers and just enough batsmen. It will be a slightly different test for England's bowlers when they come up against a much stronger India batting line-up. It will be an interesting clash of T20 philosophies but without the tension that a meaningful match in a world event should bring.
England WWLWW (completed matches, most recent first)
Watch out for
Stuart Broad and Yuvraj Singh were two completely different players five years and four days ago when Yuvraj hit Broad for six sixes in an over. Broad has gone on to become a champion player of a champion Test side, and has also won a World Twenty20. Yuvraj has realised a lifelong dream of winning a World Cup, and while his Test career has not gone anywhere he has won a bigger fight. Broad had his own back when he triggered a collapse with the wicket of Yuvraj in a Test-turning spell - that included a hat-trick - at Trent Bridge. Now that they face each other again, expect a lot of hits for the youtube videos of the sixes and the hat-tricks.
Zaheer Khan has been hailed as the "Sachin Tendulkar of Indian bowling" by MS Dhoni, and rightly so. In fact between Anil Kumble's retirement and the World Cup last year, Zaheer was the Tendulkar of the '90s: if he failed, the whole bowling unit disintegrated. However, Zaheer - like Tendulkar - now faces serious calls for retirement from at least one of the formats so that he can continue to be the bowler he was until last year's World Cup. Mohammad Shahzad and Mohammad Nabi of Afghanistan treated him with disdain, and if other sides can do the same, it will have a demoralising effect that India are not unfamiliar with.
England have got a good thing going with their line-up, and wouldn't want to fiddle around too much. Depending on the conditions, Tim Bresnan could replace Samit Patel.
England (possible): Craig Kieswetter (wk), 2 Alex Hales, 3 Luke Wright, 4 Eoin Morgan, 5 Jonny Bairstow, 6 Jos Buttler, 7 Samit Patel/Tim Bresnan, 8 Stuart Broad (capt), 9 Graeme Swann, 10 Steven Finn, 11 Jade Dernbach
Dhoni indicated India will make a changes with this being an inconsequential match. What changes, he didn't say. It is against Dhoni's conservative mindset to play five bowlers, so it is more likely that either Harbhajan Singh or Ashok Dinda might replace one of the faltering quicks. Dhoni, though, might want to give Zaheer some more time in the middle.
India (possible): 1 Virender Sehwag, 2 Gautam Gambhir, 3 Virat Kohli, 4 Yuvraj Singh, 5 Suresh Raina, 6 Rohit Sharma, 7 MS Dhoni (capt &wk), 8 R Ashwin, 9 Irfan Pathan, 10 Zaheer Khan, 11 L Balaji/Ashok Dinda/Harbhajan Singh.
Pitch and conditions
The R Premadasa pitch used for the England-Afghanistan game was an interesting one, with variable bounce looking threatening early on, but England still found enough value for their shots. An evening start might mean some assistance for bowlers, which England should like. Weather websites predict scattered thunderstorms, but it takes a lot of rain to rule out a five-over game.
Stats and trivia
- Dhoni has captained India in 33 T20Is, the most for anybody.
- Graeme Swann has conceded 28 sixes, and Broad 25. They are fourth and sixth on the list. It is not necessarily a bad sign: the top 10 features Saeed Ajmal and Shahid Afridi too. For India, Yusuf Pathan has been hit for a six the most: 22 times.
"It is easier to go after a bowler. If you look at his performances he should get equal respect that Sachin gets. He is the Sachin for us when it comes to the bowling department. He has led our attack for the last few years; he has been our best bowler whatever the format. Maybe in the last few games he has not got the wickets whether it be Test cricket, ODIs or T20."
MS Dhoni assesses Zaheer Khan's predicament
"'I think it's hard to call any game meaningless when you're putting on the three lions of England and you're taking the field as an international. Whether it was a must-win for us on Sunday or whether we don't have to win to go through - it won't change our approach to the game. "
Stuart Broad doesn't entertain the concept of an inconsequential game
16:48 GMT, September 22: The article had originally stated that Yuvraj Singh was part of Stuart Broad's Trent Bridge hat-trick. This has been changed.
Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.