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What India need to do against England's key players

Along with Joe Root, these three could easily take the game away from India Getty Images

Joe Root
One of the most competent modern-day batsmen is at the top of England's batting order. While his role at No. 3 is to hold the batting together, he has still maintained a fairly high strike rate in the World Cup.

Root plays close to the body, has optimal body weight-transference at the time of impact, and the ability to pick the length early to play the pull shot to good effect. He might not have the supple subcontinental wrists, but he has managed to play spin really well, making use of his quick feet to manipulate the depth of the crease. He also has a wide range of sweep shots to compensate for his slightly firm wrists and relative lack of intent in going down the pitch.

Since Root's trigger movement against pace takes him inside the box, the plan against him should be to pitch the ball fuller. His two common modes of dismissal against pace are leg-before and caught outside off. Ideally, the bowler should try not to pitch on his legs, even while targeting his pads, because he is good enough to punish even a slight error in line. The length should keep drawing him forward and the line should keep forcing him to plant the front foot on or outside off stump.

As he is aware of the leg-before risk, he is wary of planting the front foot across. That makes him play inside the line often, which can induce the outside edge. Also, while playing the cover drive, Root tends to lean back a little, which often results in the ball going in the air towards gully. So invite him to drive through covers and keep a gully fielder in place.

Jos Buttler
It's not easy to get rid of the England top order, but even when you manage it, you run into Buttler - the one-day version of Adam Gilchrist at No. 6 for Australia in Tests. Just when you feel you have gained some control over the game, he hits you like a tornado, and if you don't come up with the right plans in the first few balls of his innings, he can take the game away.

Buttler is arguably the most exciting player in the English batting line-up because he doesn't go with the flow of the game but instead tries to create his own. He is also unique in his risk-taking approach - easily playing laps and scoops that others would consider too risky. He keeps his head still and his hands low to play these shots. Most non-subcontinental batsmen keep their hands high to negotiate the extra bounce of their home pitches, but Buttler's hands are low, which allows him to get under the ball and go aerial more often than the rest.

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The plan against him should be to get your wicket-taker in action straightaway, for Buttler is not someone who will shy away from a duel. Make him feel that you are looking to dismiss him, not just to minimise damage.

Quick bowlers should look to bring the ball back into him and take the pace off regularly. He has really fast hands and is able to create tough angles to put the ball in the gaps, but he also likes the ball coming on to his bat nicely. When you take the pace off while pitching it just short of good length, he struggles a little. Spinners should look to pitch it fuller and a little wider to him. Buttler is super quick to shorten the length and pull, but he is reluctant to go over the covers, and that's where one should make him play.

Ben Stokes
He has had a wonderful World Cup with the bat and has shown both the maturity to stick around till the end and the composure to stay calm under pressure. If England have a batsman who represents the new aggressive approach and yet has another plan handy if things don't go as planned, it is Stokes.

He is happy to play a lot of dot balls and take only singles early in his innings without worrying too much about the asking rate or the target the team might have in mind. Stokes understands that if he stays for a few overs, he will be able to make up for the lost time - he has done it a few times already. With this sort of approach, you can't challenge his ego. You need to counter him tactically instead.

A minor but visible chink in his fairly strong armour is that his boundary/release shots aren't low-risk options. For example, a spinner might have a fielder at mid-on inside the circle, but instead of using his feet and lobbing the ball over that fielder's head, Stokes will go for a sweep or a slog sweep. That's what the Indian spinners should aim for - keep blocking the easy single-taking options down the ground and make him play across the line. Bowling wider and asking him to go over cover is also a good option, for he might choose the reverse sweep over the inside-out shot.

Against pace, once in a while, he will charge at you and play an expansive shot through the region between midwicket and cover, but he is unlikely to repeat that the following ball.

The fast bowler's intent against Stokes should be to bowl normal back-of-a-length deliveries one after the other, rather than try to produce a magic delivery that takes a wicket, and end up bowling bad balls in the process.

Jofra Archer
England's X factor bowler is justifying why he was fast-tracked to play at the highest level.

Archer has a really smooth run-up and an almost non-existent jump, which is why it doesn't feel like he is going to bowl as fast as he ends up doing. These seriously fast bowlers have one thing in common - the braced front leg at the point of release. Archer's front and back legs are well aligned at the crease (this ensures that the force is flowing in the right direction and makes his action less susceptible to injuries) and the bowling arm is in line with the left leg at the point of release. His non-bowling arm also functions the way it should. In short, his action is less stressful, and therefore, repeatable. Once your alignments are right, including the wrist position, being consistency with your lines is a function of physical fitness and bowling enough balls to develop correct muscle memory.

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Archer is tall and bowls with a high-arm action. Since the bounce off the surface is directly proportional to the height of release, he gets, a lot of disconcerting bounce. His natural length is slightly short of a good length, and that's when he's at his best, for the ball hits high on the bat. The bounce from that length is good enough to let the batsman play horizontal-bat shots, but years of practice have conditioned batsmen to reacting to length and lines appropriately, and any radical shift in that conditioning leads to lack of efficiency.

On the other hand, whenever Archer tries to bowl fuller with the new ball, he loses a little bit of venom because of his lack of consistency at that length. Also, he doesn't get the ball to move in the air much.

Seeing him off is the best ploy initially, and considering there aren't all that many other wicket-taking bowlers in the England squad, it is a viable option.

In the death or middle overs, Archer bowls an almost perfect yorker (which must be respected). He also rolls his fingers to bowl a legcutter variation of the slower one, and bouncers. While there aren't many giveaways in his action when bowling the yorker or the bouncer, he does drop the non-bowling arm a little sooner and bends outwards like a legspinner does while bowling a googly.

A batsman's ideal plan against him in the death overs should be to sit back and wait for the short balls, because even though Archer has a good yorker, he doesn't rely on it as often as he should.