India, the only undefeated team at the world cup, prepared on Saturday for their much-awaited clash against hosts England at Edgbaston, Birmingham.
Given an India win would keep teams like Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka alive in the tournament, the match will be an unusual occasion where fans from across the sub-continent could be rooting for Virat Kohli’s team on Sunday.
Kohli himself preferred to rest on the pre-match day, given it was an optional training for the team.
MS Dhoni and the player designated to take over his spot, Rishab Pant, were seen practicing their batting.
India captain Virat Kohli is keeping a laser-like focus on his own team and insists it’s England who need to adjust if they are to keep their World Cup dreams on track.
The pair meet at Edgbaston on Sunday, with India attempting to preserve their unbeaten start to the tournament and secure a semi-final spot.
Defeat for England would put their own last four prospects in jeopardy, following back-to-back losses to Sri Lanka and Australia.
The hosts began the tournament as the top-ranked ODI side in the world – a title now taken by India – and Kohli admits he did not expect them to struggle in home conditions.
“Everyone is a bit surprised. We thought England would probably dominate in their own conditions but, as I said at the beginning of the tournament, pressure is going to be a factor and low scores are going to be defended,” he said.
“I said that because I have played at two World Cups and all the teams are very strong. Anyone can beat anyone and we got a scare from Afghanistan, so you can’t take anything for granted.
“We will see what happens. The other teams have outplayed England on occasions and although we have not lost a game, we cannot be complacent.
“The reason we have won every game is because we have been professional and precise under pressure. It is surprising but I expected something like that in the World Cup because teams come under pressure.
“Maybe the pressure has told, maybe it hasn’t. It’s for them to assess now.”
India’s progress has been serene so far, with five wins from six matches placing them second in the table while their match with New Zealand fell foul of the weather.
Kohli has struck four consecutive fifties and played a key role in India’s impressive form with the bat but it’s their bowlers facing England’s explosive batsmen which really gets the mouth watering on Sunday.
Spinners Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav have taken regular wickets and bowled economically, while Jasprit Bumrah has proven why he is the number one ranked ODI bowler despite taking just nine wickets.
Mohammed Shami, back in the side in place of the injured Bhuvneshwar Kumar, has also made an immediate impact by taking a hat-trick against Afghanistan – presenting Kohli with a selection headache as Kumar nears fitness.
“Bhuvi has been a world class bowler for years now and has been a consistent player for us in the shorter formats,” he added.
“Shami, in the last year and a half has come around amazingly well. I have never seen him fitter, more hungry and he is getting wickets.
“In our last game [against West Indies], the way he was bowling with the new ball on a pitch that was dry was amazing. He has that hunger within him and he is bowler very well.
“Bhuvi is recovering very fast. When he gets fit, it will be headache for us. But we will take the best one for the team at that moment and everyone will understand.
“Sometimes in cricket this happens because of injuries and niggles. All I can say is that at the moment, I am very happy with the way Shami is bowling. Bumrah is different because he is separating himself from everyone else.”
Captain Eoin Morgan says Jason Roy is “preparing” to play in England’s crunch World Cup clash with India.
England’s campaign has gone off track since destructive opener Roy injured his hamstring, losing two of the three games he has missed to put their semi-final hopes on a knife edge.
“Jason is preparing to play tomorrow,” Morgan told his pre-match press conference.
“Provided he gets through today’s practice and tomorrow morning unscathed, we think he might be fit to play.”
Morgan added, though, that the Surrey man will not play if there is deemed to be a long-term risk associated with doing so.
“It depends on the significance of the risk,” he said. “If it’s going to rule him out long-term, absolutely not. If it’s a couple of weeks, yes.”
There are also fitness concerns over strike bowler Jofra Archer who is managing a side strain.
“He didn’t bowl yesterday,” Morgan said ahead of Sunday’s game. “We’re going to see how he comes through today. It’s the same thing he’s been playing with for the last three games. Again, the same thing applies.
“If it’s a long-term risk, no, if it’s a short term-risk, yes.”
Morgan refused to get in to whether defeat, and missing out on the semi-finals, will spell the end of his captaincy.
“Going where?” he said when asked. “It’s not a situation I want to talk about. It’s not about me, it’s about the team. There’s no point talking about this. It’s about tomorrow’s game.”