In desperate times, England seek desperate measures

Jonny Bairstow has had middling returns in this World Cup so far, averaging only 35. He’s hitting more headlines now after prompting a further lash out after initially suggesting that criticism has been too harsh against England. It might have just brought on more pressure on the team, but there’s a theory that it’s just Bairstow being Bairstow, looking for that extra needle to get him going. He’s thrived on it in the past. And England might need it more than ever tomorrow. Not just because they are in danger of losing out on a semifinal spot but also because it could be the best way to break India’s unbeaten
Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Shami have been outstanding in the last two games, but even when Bhuvneshwar Kumar was fit and playing, India did not concede more than 48 in a powerplay this World Cup. Their economy rate in the first ten overs of 3.72 is comfortably better than the next best (4.88 by England). It is even more significant because this is India’s mojo. With a good bowling powerplay, their spinners start looking better than they already are, their fifth bowler is allowed to bowl according to Virat Kohli, and there’s no deviation from their best plans. And so far in the World Cup, that applecart has rolled along smoothly, hitting no road bumps.They could hit their first one against England, for there is no pair more explosive at the top than Jonny Bairstow and Jason Roy (who is expected to return) in ODI cricket at the moment. Their scoring rate in this phase of 5.79 is comfortably better than the next (4.93). Put that up against the numbers of Shami and Bumrah, and you can see why this battle in the powerplay, could potentially be match-defining.
But those could mean little if England can’t find a way to battle their pitch demons. Eoin Morgan emphasized once again on that point when asked what England have been doing wrong. “Where we’ve let ourselves down as a group is adapting to conditions,” he said. The pitch, therefore, could be of as much interest as anything else surrounding this game. It is different to the one that New Zealand played Pakistan on, which was on the slower side. In the two games here so far, wickets have fallen more frequently in the powerplay than in any other phase.The England thinktank must have realised the need to strike India hard in the powerplay, for Morgan admitted that they’d take the risk on Roy if there is no danger of a long-term injury. If he and Bairstow do find a way to tackle the conditions and India’s bowling form, they could be making the headlines for the right reasons once again.