India faces England for a place in cricket’s Twenty20 World Cup final against South Africa

GEORGETOWN, Guyana (AP) — India’s dogged effort to end an 11-year World Cup title drought will face a watershed moment Thursday when Rohit Sharma’s lineup faces defending champion England in a Twenty20 World Cup semifinal.

The pursuit of a title has become urgent for India and its massive legion of cricket fans since its six-wicket loss to Australia in last year’s 50-overs World Cup final. India hosted that tournament, and it generated a strong sense of anticipation.

India now has the opportunity to atone. The in-form India lineup faces an England team that had to depend on other results to sneak into the second stage and also stumbled in the Super Eights, losing to South Africa.

The India-England semifinal winner will face South Africa in Saturday’s final at Kensington Oval in Bridgetown, Barbados. South Africa beat Afghanistan by nine wickets in Wednesday’s first semifinal.

The India players may be strongly preoccupied by their memory of their last meeting with England at this stage of a T20 World Cup. India lost by 10 wickets to England in Adelaide, Australia in a semifinal in 2022 which might mark the lowest point of their World Cup chase. That loss still rankles.

Current England captain Jos Buttler was a key figure in that defeat, making an unbeaten 80 as England chased down India’s 168-6 without the loss of a wicket. Now England must find a new way to beat an India team which seems in unstoppable form.

Rohit has been superb throughout the tournament in the United States and Caribbean, making 92 in India’s latest win over Australia. Jasprit Bumrah has been effective both on pitches in New York and the Caribbean, taking 11 wickets.

India fans are likely to heavily outnumber England fans among the crowd at Providence Stadium, as they often do around the world. That will provide the India team with just a taste of the expectation that follows them in every match, and more now as India fans hunger for World Cup success.

“Wherever we play, whether it’s bilateral series or ICC tournaments, the Indian cricket team is always under pressure,” Rohit said. “That’s the fact. Most of the guys are used to it, so it’s important to have a little bit of calmness in the dressing room.”

Rohit said it was unlikely India would depart from the game plan that it had employed so successfully throughout the tournament, most recently in that 24-run win over Australia on Monday.

“We don’t want to do anything different,” he said. “We want to play the same way, understand what the individuals need to do in a given situation and play freely.

“So far we’ve been doing that consistently and in the semifinals we have to try and do the same thing. It’ll be nice (to play England). Nothing changes for us. We want to focus on what we can do as a team and take the game on.”

England also is likely to emphasize aggression in its approach and especially as a means to thwart Bumrah.

“They definitely come out a lot harder in the powerplay with the bat,” England head coach Matthew Mott said. “The way Rohit has led from the front is quite obvious for everyone to see. But that also presents a unique opportunity for our bowling attack to take early wickets.

“We’ve had to play most of this tournament from behind and with adversity. We’d love to throw that first punch, get in front and really hammer that home.”

The one thing neither team can control is the weather and rain is forecast Thursday which might have a major effect on the game and its outcome. Extra time has been allocated to try to achieve a result but in the case of a washout and with no reserve day, India will go through as the higher-placed team after the Super Eight.


AP cricket:

Copyright © 2024 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.

Federal News Network Logo
Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up