England v India, Group E, Durban September 18, 2007

Both sides look to hit their straps in decisive encounter

England v India, Durban, Wednesday September 19, 1800 local time (1600 GMT)

Hoping for a turnaround: Paul Collingwood has not had a great run of late © Getty Images

India can keep alive their hopes of making the World Twenty20 semi-finals with victory over a demoralised England at Durban on Wednesday. They should have won their opening Super Eight match against New Zealand but came unstuck against Daniel Vettori. England are left needing a miracle to qualify after falling away badly against the Kiwis and have been found wanting despite bringing plenty of Twenty20 knowledge with them.

Bat play: Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir raced to 76 in the first six overs against New Zealand, a record for the tournament, but the middle order couldn't continue the good work. Yuvraj Singh, who was in sparkling form during the one-day series against England, hasn't fired in South Africa; however Robin Uthappa and Irfan Pathan have showed their ability to clear the ropes. Pathan's return has provided the all-round option India were missing in England.

Darren Maddy and Vikram Solanki finally provided a solid opening stand of 62, but the remaining batsmen failed take advantage. Kevin Pietersen gave his innings away with an ugly reverse sweep and two big-hitters, Andrew Flintoff and Dimitri Mascarenhas, made one between them. But Luke Wright was more comfortable in the middle order.

Wrecking ball: Left-armers Pathan and RP Singh have been impressive, Pathan showing that he has rediscovered his late swing. However, Harbhajan Singh has been the pick on his return to Indian colours and will fancy his chances against England. Ajit Agarkar is again struggling and knows he won't be playing against Australia in the forthcoming one-day series after missing out on the squad.

Again England's early bowling was impressive against New Zealand with Flintoff, Stuart Broad and James Anderson making inroads. They lost their way when the seven overs from Mascarenhas and Paul Collingwood went for 73. Flintoff appears in more pain every time he bowls.

Keep your eye on: Sreesanth. He made a mark during the Test series in England, but often for the wrong reasons with a beamer to Pietersen and huge no-balls. He gets hyped-up in the slower tempo of Test cricket so it's a surprise he hasn't exploded in Twenty20.

Shop talk: It's not been a great few days for Collingwood, losing crucial matches and being caught out at a lap-dancing club in Cape Town. "The fact is I made a mistake, that's what it comes down to, and what I need to focus on now is a big game on Wednesday for us," he said. "We're getting so close to knocking the runs off and then we lose an important wicket and that partnership we need at a vital time we've just not been able to get.

Gambhir, who stood in for Mahendra Singh Dhoni at the press conference, said India will still be wary of England. "There's no psychological edge in such a short version. Whoever plays well on that day will win. Even Zimbabwe managed to beat Australia in this competition. We have to win both games and we will be looking to do just that."

Pitching it right: The ball zipped around with a 10am start, but this match is at the opposite end of the day so the impact of the floodlights will be the important factor. Batting second isn't easy at Kingsmead, but it is also the preferred way of playing Twenty20.


England (probable) Darren Maddy, Vikram Solanki (wk), Kevin Pietersen, Paul Collingwood (capt), Owais Shah, Andrew Flintoff, Luke Wright, Dimitri Mascarenhas, Chris Schofield, Stuart Broad, James Anderson

India (probable) Virendar Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Robin Uthappa, Yuvraj Singh, Mahendra Singh Dhoni (wk), Dinesh Karthik, Irfan Pathan, Harbhajan Singh, Ajit Agarkar, Sreesanth, RP Singh

Andrew McGlashan is a staff writer on Cricinfo