A lot is hinging on this all-important encounter between England and India scheduled to take place later in the day at Edgbaston, Birmingham. The whole of Asia, not just Indians will be backing the Men in Blue with all the heart to get the better of the World Cup hosts. England losing this match will mean a realistic chance for Pakistan and Bangladesh to make it to the semi-final while Sri Lanka also stay alive in the tournament.
The mind games have also started propping up ahead of the probable biggest clash of the tournament. First England off-spinner Moeen Ali wrote in his column for The Guardian, "The difference is, you get out playing a defensive stroke or a guided shot like that, the criticism isn't nearly the same. More credit goes to the bowler too. But break it down and the two reactions don't make sense. Both shots are played on merit and both are failures in execution, rather than selection. Yet attacking shots attract more heat."
“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 added.
It’s about finding ways to win
In his reply, the Indian captain Virat Kohli, who has hit four half-centuries on the trot thus far in the tournament, was quoted as saying, "It's not a thing that I go in with a certain mindset and, if the pitch is not according to what I'm feeling, I'll slog and get out. I think it's about finding ways to win, finding ways to score runs. That's something we take a lot of pride in as a team, and I just want us to focus on that."
The make-up of the two teams are as different as chalk and cheese and there can no be no shoe that fits both, but with England under pressure to deliver, and at risk of getting knocked out, there could be some common ground.
On just how he's handling pressure so far, Kohli said, "Well, the focus is basically to do individually what we have been selected to do, what we have been doing for years. The more basic you can keep things in a tournament like the World Cup, the better chances you have of being one up against the opposition under pressure. The more you attach emotion or excitement or too much pressure to an occasion, you can't make good decisions."