By Rex Clementine

India have an unblemished record in the ICC T-20 World Cup and have cruised to the semi-final stage whereas their opponents England have had a testing time. But more importantly the defending champions have gained momentum lead up to the knockouts and a thrilling contest is expected in Guyana on Thursday.

India have ticked all the boxes leading into the semi-finals. They have a point to prove having not won an ICC event since 2011 although they have featured in many finals.

Indian bowling attack is not all about Jasprit Bumrah. Arshdeep Singh has 15 wickets in six games and has provided breakthroughs with the new ball while left-arm wrist spinner Kuldeep Yadav, who was only played in the Super Eight round, has caused trouble with a rich haul of wickets.

The thing about Bumrah is that he is very tough to get away from. There are hardly any loose balls during his four overs and teams have to take risks against him. Bumrah has bowled 23 overs in this tournament and has given away less than 100 runs. He has an economy rate of 4:08. On paper, England and India are well balanced sides and it is Bumrah who gives India the edge over their opponents.

One concern for India is the form of Virat Kohli. The former captain has managed just 66 runs after six innings.

England have one big call to make before the semi-final. They picked Chris Jordan ahead of Mark Wood for their last game and Jordan didn’t disappoint claiming a hat-trick. While Jordan provides control and an excellent death bowling option, England would be feeling that pace could do the job against India and might recall Wood. Leaving Jordan out after such a good game will be a tough decision.

Adil Rashid remains England’s key bowler. He has gone for runs, but like all leg-spinners Rashid has picked up big wickets. India’s strategies against him will be interesting.

Jos Buttler with 191 runs and Philip Salt with 183 runs have been in top form and they will be expected to give the team another flying start. While Buttler has a strike rate of 159, Salt has gone beyond his captain striking at 166.

Interestingly, these two teams met in the T-20 World Cup semi-final in 2022 in Adelaide and England cruised to a comfortable ten wicket win with four overs to spare. India will be keen to put that disappointment away.

Guyana hosted several first round matches at the start of the competition but there’s no game played there since 8th June and it remains to be seen what conditions the teams get for this epic game.