T20 World Cup: England must show why they are world champions after reaching Super 8s | Cricket News


Sky Sports Cricket expert Nasser Hussain reflects on England’s qualification through to the Super 8s stage of the Men’s T20 World Cup, looks ahead to the game against the West Indies on Wednesday night and says who he’s backing to make the semi-finals…

England, out of all the sides, have probably had the least cricket at this tournament. But the key thing was getting through to the Super 8s.

They’re world champions and they’ve now got to show why they are world champions.

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Highlights of England’s much-needed win over Namibia at the T20 World Cup as they triumphed by 41 runs on DLS

They had a quarter of a game against Scotland, a full game against Australia… and then two more very short games, because they won so convincingly against Oman and then had another rain-affected win over Namibia.

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Ahead of England and Namibia’s vital clash, Nasser Hussain, Eoin Morgan and Ian Ward got soaked in Antigua

Against Scotland, who knows whether they’ll have chased down that score without the rain… but they weren’t overly convincing in the field and with the ball in that first game in Barbados. I think they’ve put that right since.

They got walloped by Australia, but that can happen to anyone – Australia are a mighty outfit in any format.

There’s then the fear of losing, the fear of going out. That’s why England did such a good job in Antigua, where they’ve been convincing in their last two games – they were in the last-chance saloon and had to produce their ‘A’ game against two associate nations and they did that.

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Highlights of England’s win over Oman at the T20 Cricket World Cup, as they sprinted to a chase of 48 in just 3.1 overs in Antigua

‘England won’t take any team lightly in Super 8s’

They probably haven’t had as much time in the middle as they would like… but in the space of five days coming up, they’ve got three games, and I think they’ll enjoy the rhythm of actually playing cricket.

That’s the case for a few teams going into the Super 8s… the Indian batters, who had to play in New York a lot, their top order, the South African top order, they go into this stage without many runs under their belt because batting was so difficult.

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Ravi Shastri could hardly contain his excitement ahead of India’s T20 World Cup clash with Pakistan in New York as he presided over the toss

I’ve not minded the pitches in this tournament. In the IPL, it was geared too much towards batting and there were too many big scores, sixes and fours.

Here, it’s gone a little bit more in favour of the bowlers. In New York, I think that pitch went too far in the favour of the bowlers, but Dallas was good, Barbados was decent and I’d say St Lucia will probably be the pick of the lot if you’re a batter.

I don’t think there is an easier side of the draw in the Super 8s. We are now in a situation where every side will be expecting to get through to the semi-finals.

The shorter the game, the shorter the format, anything can happen. And as we’ve seen already, there’s been some incredible upsets – the associate nations have done themselves proud, they’ve played a lot of good cricket.

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Highlights from the USA’s game against Pakistan at the T20 World Cup, as the Americans pulled off one of the tournament’s greatest upsets

As Pakistan found out, having lost in a Super Over against the USA, and as Canada found out against them in the opening game, every side has struggled against the USA – they are a very good outfit.

England will not be taking any team lightly. It will be a tough game and they will be hoping when they go into that one that the job is already done.

‘St Lucia surface suits England’s style’

They first face the West Indies though, the hosts, and it will be a great atmosphere in St Lucia on Wednesday night.

But a big crowd supporting the opposition won’t upset them too much. These England players have played in the IPL, they’ve played in big games, in World Cup finals.

Plus, they will be pleased to be in St Lucia. It’s a good pitch, which suits their style of play – they have batters in the likes of Phil Salt, Will Jacks, Jos Buttler and Jonny Bairstow, who want to go hard at the ball… although the West Indies, as we know, also have some very big hitters.

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England’s Phil Salt speaks to Sky Sports about the T20 World Cup, opening the batting with Jos Buttler and his hopes of a Test call-up

It was very important in England’s last game that Bairstow and Harry Brook played really well, putting on that wonderful partnership. That’s another tick for England that those two have had time in the middle going into this game.

They’ve pace in their armoury as well with Jofra Archer and Mark Wood, plus Adil Rashid, the No 1 ranked T20 bowler… they’ve got everything in place.

Archer has impressed so far. He’s got great rhythm and he’s adapted to conditions… he’s a very smart cricketer. It’s not all about pace, pace, pace.

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Jofra Archer strikes early for England as Phil Salt takes an excellent low catch in their T20 World Cup clash with Oman

Liam Livingstone is the one concern for the West Indies game, with that side strain of his – it’s not something that is just going to disappear in the next couple of days.

If he doesn’t get through the fitness test, I would play Sam Curran – he’s the like-for-like replacement. It gives you another all-round option and another left-hander option.

We are now getting into the business end of the tournament. There are no easy games and England will have to be at their best if they want to qualify for the semi-finals – it’s just getting your skills right, putting in a performance and getting on a roll.

They are the world champions in this format and when other sides look at England, they’ll be looking at that long batting lineup and thinking: ‘we had better be at our best’.

South Africa are a good side, but I’ll go with England and the host nation the West Indies to make it from their group.

What’s next at the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup?

The Super 8s stage of the Men’s T20 World Cup gets under way on Wednesday when the USA face South Africa in Antigua, live on Sky Sports Cricket from 3pm (first ball 3.30pm).

England‘s Super 8s opener takes place against co-hosts the West Indies later the same day in St Lucia, live on Sky Sports Cricket at 1am (first ball 1.30am) in the early hours of Thursday morning.

England are in Group 2 for the eight-team second stage of the tournament, alongside the West Indies, USA and South Africa.

Making up Group 1 are Afghanistan and India, as well as Australia and Bangladesh, who face each other on Thursday.

The top two teams from each group progress through to the semi-finals.

Watch every match from the T20 World Cup, including the final in Barbados on Saturday June 29, live on Sky Sports.

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