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June 13, 2009
It is a clash between the country that gave the world Twenty20 and the one that has powered its explosion. When England take on India in their crucial match at Lord's it will be the first time they have met in a Twenty20 since South Africa in 2007. Since then the game has gone to an entirely new level and the hosts are being left behind.
That game under the lights in Durban, which India also had to win to stay in the tournament, is still recalled for the breathtaking display of striking from Yuvraj Singh who hit six sixes in an over off Stuart Broad. At the time, Broad was only a year into his international career and such an experience could have broken a lesser player, but now he is a central part of England's attack.
Broad has already shown in this tournament how he can bounce back from adversity by taking 3 for 17 against Pakistan two days after bowling the final over in England's defeat to Netherlands. Yuvraj said the moment of hitting six sixes "is in the back of my mind" but Paul Collingwood is confident his bowler is prepared to respond to any onslaught.
"First of all hopefully he [Yuvraj] won't be hitting Stuart Broad for sixes off his first two balls," he said. "I think those kind of situations make you a lot stronger. Just watching the highlights the other day, it proved how raw he was at the time. What he's done over the last couple of the years has been exceptional. He's grown as a man and his skills are much better.
"I'm sure he's relishing the competition that's coming up. He's proven over the last couple of years how versatile he is as a bowler. He is a wicket-taking option but can also stem the flow of runs. At the moment he's one of the more economical bowlers in the competition and that shows how much he's come along."
Yuvraj will also be the common denominator in another head-to-head. During the one-day and Test series late last year he and Kevin Pietersen became involved in a strong rivalry as Yuvraj dismissed England's top batsman in both forms of the game. After trapping Pietersen leg-before in the second innings in Chennai, Yuvraj was brought on for the third over of the first innings in Mohali as soon as Pietersen walked to the crease. Pietersen survived a few nervous moments (and went on to three figures) before calling Yuvraj a pie-chucker.
"If I get the chance I would love to bowl to him again and I am sure he would love to call me a pie-chucker again," Yuvraj said. "He's a great batsman and we always look forward to playing against eachother and we're great friends off the field. We spur each other on, we both love doing that."
Pietersen's troublesome Achilles has been causing concern during this tournament after he was forced to miss the Netherlands match, but Collingwood is hopeful that the problem won't return. "We are managing his injury," he said. "KP's desperate to play and other than that hiccup against Netherlands he's pulled up really well."
Despite India's defeat against West Indies the form guide suggests England will struggle against a side packed with strong hitters and with a wealth of Twenty20 experience. However, Collingwood is backing his side to produce a match-winning performance.
"We are due a good game if you look at the run of form we have had," he said. "We didn't play as well as we could have against South Africa, but it's another opportunity to bounce back from a defeat like that. We're against a very good side but we believe as a unit we can beat the best teams in this competition. If we win the next four games, we win the Twenty20 World Cup, that's a great incentive."
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