The dream T20 World Cup final is still alive. With a seven-wicket win over New Zealand in the first semifinal, Pakistan have booked their tickets to Melbourne, but whether they will face India or England in Sunday’s summit clash will be decided in a few hours from now. India and Pakistan, who played out a scintillating thriller three weeks back have a chance to write another chapter of their historic rivalry. But before that, the Men in Blue await the English challenge, who have played some inspiring cricket themselves and are gunning for T20 World Cup glory having already reigned supreme in the 50-over format.
Which now brings us to Thursday’s semifinal at the Adelaide Oval. The India vs England clash is expected to be a mouth-watering blockbuster. India is the only team to have finished the group stage with eight points after securing four wins, and lead England 4-1 in their previous five meetings. Earlier this year in June, India completed a 2-1 series win over England in both T20Is and ODIs but while the result does hold them in good stead, the World Cup is a different ball game altogether.
For England in particular, Jos Buttler is aware that he and his team will have to contain a star-studded batting line-up. As if the top three featuring KL Rahul, Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli wasn’t intimidating enough, there’s a fourth name that is tormenting bowlers, Suryakumar Yadav. With 225 runs, SKY has set the World Cup on fire and is currently the third-highest run-getter in the tournament, and England will definitely have his wicket in their sights. However, ahead of the semifinal, former England captain Michael Atherton feels that while Suryakumar has succeeded almost every game in the ongoing World Cup, there is a possibility that he might just have an off day in the crunch knockout game.
“Anybody can fail. His numbers are staggering in T20Is. He is averaging 42 at a strike-rate of 180 and it puts him leagues ahead of anybody else but to play with that consistency and at that tempo, you’re going to fail occasionally. I know he hasn’t failed yet, and been incredibly consistent, but he may just have a bad day,” Atherton said on Sky Sports.
There has been no shortage of fireworks from Suryakumar’s bat. After a rare quiet outing of 15 against Pakistan, Suryakumar scored half-centuries against the Netherlands, South Africa and Zimbabwe. But while his knock of 68 off 40 balls against the Proteas is being widely dubbed as one of the best T20I innings ever played by an India batter, it was Surya’s unbeaten 61 off 25 balls against Zimbabwe that has left Atherton in complete awe. Suryakumar has been a completely different beast ever since he became the No. 1-ranked T20I batter in the world, an accolade Atherton believes SKY richly and deservingly deserves, but just given the form that he is in, the former captain feels England will eye him more than Rohit, Rahul or Kohli.
“His innings the other night against Zimbabwe was incredible at the end. Richard Ngarava, the left-arm bowler, was trying to push him as wide as possible and he was still flicking it behind square, almost from beyond the return crease. An incredible player. He is rightly the No. 1-ranked T20 batter in the world right now. There are more established names – Virat Kohli, KL Rahul and Rohit Sharma but I reckon he is the one who England bowlers will be thinking mostly about ahead of the game. How do we stop him from scoring?” he mentioned.