At least in the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019, the sun started setting on the British empire early and abruptly. After having started as hot favourites to win the tournament for the first time, thanks to their form and home advantages, England slipped at a vital time in the competition by losing two consecutive matches against Sri Lanka and Australia.
Those two losses have now left other teams like Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka at inch’s distance from the hosts and to revive the setting sun on their promising empire, the hosts will have to win their remaining two league matches. The task will be cut out since the remaining matches are scheduled against teams that are ahead of England in the points table: India and New Zealand.
Eoin Morgan’s side will take on former champions India first – at Edgbaston on June 30 – and winning that game will be extremely crucial for England. They also lost their top rank to Virat Kohli’s men after losing against Australia and will be pitted against the No.1 side now in a bid for survival. England and India have shared some intense rivalry on the 22 yards last year with the former emerging victorious in the 50-overs and Test formats. They will look to repeat the same on Sunday against a team which is yet to taste its first defeat in the tournament.
The pressure of being the home side not a factor
Moeen Ali, the English all-rounder-spinner who had a good series against India last year, doesn’t agree that his team will be under more pressure as a home team. The 32-year-old has taken five wickets in as many matches in this World Cup and hasn’t scored a single fifty so far. On the India game, Moeen believes the onus is on India for the amount of expectations they carry each time they take the field.
“The pressure of being the home side shouldn’t be a factor. Our next opponent, India, are a good reminder of this because we don’t have to deal with nearly the same amount of expectation as they do. They are superstars back home. Win and they are showered with praise, lose and they are on the receiving end of harsh criticism. And they aren’t able to lead everyday lives when they’re not playing because of the attention they receive,” Moeen Ali, who came under criticism for getting out to a reckless shot against Sri Lanka just after hitting a six, wrote in his blog for The Guardian.
He also mentioned his experience of playing alongside India captain Virat Kohli and spinner Yuzvendra Chahal for the Royal Challengers Bangalore in the Indian Premier League (IPL). He said he has been good friends with Kohli by the virtue of playing together in the IPL. He also said that he didn’t want to “pump” Kohli’s tyres before the Sunday clash but mentioned that the ace batsman is indeed motivated, driven and dedicated.
“Virat knows he’s there to score runs for India, while I’m there to get him out (or score some myself). It means a lot to get a player like him out but you can be still be friends trying to do it. I grew up playing against friends and cousins in the park and it was some of the most competitive cricket I have played. The key here is respect,” Moeen concluded.