Colombo: For England, like for most of the rest of the field, the real competition begins now. Having taken care of Afghanistan and secured their place in the Super Eights, England will warm up for the challenges ahead as they seek to defend their ICC World Twenty20 title when they runs into India in their final Group A league fixture, at the R Premadasa Stadium on Sunday.
“We had some good challenges over the last few weeks,” said Stuart Broad, the England captain. “It’s been a real advantage for us to have a couple of weeks together before this tournament started. We played against South Africa, who are a world-class team. Australia and Pakistan over here (in the warm-up matches) were really good challenges as well. We have been performing and competing against top level teams, so it’s not like we are coming against India as our first real challenge in the last few weeks. We do know the dangers they offer. But if we focus on what we did really well today, we can be a challenge for anyone.”
“If we have batsmen towards the end, you can see how dangerous we can be,” said Broad, referring to the fact that his team smashed 87 in the last five overs against Afghanistan. “And the aggression we showed with the ball and in the field to take our chances like we did was superb. I said at half time that the day is only 50 percent done, we did it fantastically well but we need to stay calm and deliver our skills. We did that really well for the first ten overs and that’s something we need to continue with on Sunday.”
Broad wasn’t unmindful of what India would bring to the table, but didn’t seem particularly fussed about it. “India have got a powerful batting line-up,” said Broad. “We know the dangers they offer, they have played a lot of Twenty20 cricket domestically and internationally. You look towards the whole tournament, there’s not a weak side in it. You have got to play good cricket all the way through to win and that won’t change on Sunday. But one thing I will say – if we play cricket like we did against Afghanistan, the way we went about things, the passion and the energy we showed in the field, we will be in a good position.”
Bristling at suggestions that Sunday’s game was ‘meaningless’ because both teams were assured of advancing, Broad said, “It’s hard to call any game meaningless when you are putting on the three Lions of England and taking the field as an international. Whether it was a must-win for us on Sunday, or whether we don’t have to win to go through, it won’t change the way we approach the game. Any game against India is huge, massive watching and we know how passionate the Indian fans are about their cricket. It certainly won’t dampen the mood on Sunday that we are already through. It will be a fantastic game of cricket.”
A little over five years back, on September 19, 2007, Yuvraj Singh made history by smashing Broad for six sixes in the inaugural ICC World Twenty20 in Durban. Broad paid handsome tribute to Yuvraj, back in the mix after recovering from a rare form of cancer. “To have an illness like that, it’s horrible to see – the whole cricketing world got behind him. But it’s amazing to see him back playing for India,” said Broad of his tormentor. “We know what a dangerous player he is. He is someone every team, when you play against him, you look out for him, do your research on him. It’s amazing to see a player come back from an illness like that, and to come back as strongly as he has.”