Confidence high in the England camp as Broad finds his Mr Wright

 

There was a moment in England's crushing victory over Afghanistan in the World Twenty20 that suggested they might have the right stuff to defend their title. It was the 19th over and Jonny Bairstow came in at 159 for four.

The night's hero, Luke Wright, was on 76no and Bairstow asked about the bowling. Wright informed him: "It looks like he's going for yorkers but he's not quite got it right."

To which Bairstow, with a Yorkshireman's common sense, replied: "OK, I'll have a look." The bowler, Izatullah Dawlatzai, duly produced a full-length delivery which was actually a no-ball, and Bairstow despatched it over long-on for six. "Yes, you're right," he said to his partner, "he's missed his yorker."

This little tale from the middle was related with some relish by Stuart Broad, England's T20 captain, for he realised what it meant for the well-being of his side.

"That confidence is what you want in a set-up," said Broad. "I think we have found a lovely timing. We have a youngish batting line-up which at times might not come off. We saw that at Durham against South Africa. But we have a three-week period here where it would be lovely if it did come off."

England will have a clearer idea of where they stand in this competition after their final group A match against India tonight. The defeat of Afghanistan on Friday by 116 runs was welcome because it was billed as one of those pesky ties that could so easily go wrong.

The Afghans, authors of the most heart-warming story in world sport, had nothing to lose and it was suspected that their free-spirited approach might derail any side, no matter how meticulously prepared. In the event, Afghanistan were beaten to the point of humiliation. England did what they had to do.

India are a different proposition, and while both teams have already qualified for the Super Eight stages, they will know that a run in this sort of concentrated tournament can be hard to stop.

It was how England won the title in the Caribbean two years ago. Having started slowly, they suddenly came alive and, after beating Pakistan by six wickets, they never looked back. That is why there will be no relaxing tonight at the Premadasa Stadium.

"Players take it really seriously now," said Broad. "Dancers and fireworks are important to T20 cricket but the actual game when you are out there is very serious."

Although they are the champions and officially ranked as the No 1 T20 side, England were seventh in the bookmakers' odds when they arrived in Sri Lanka last week. This has changed after the all-round solidity of their exhibition on Friday and will shift further if they overcome India.

As Broad hinted, it is possible that they have arrived at the perfect moment. Almost by accident, it could be that they have found a No 3 in Luke Wright, who finished on an electrifying 99no on Friday. When England won in 2010, the runs of Kevin Pietersen at No 3 were irreplaceable.

Wright is probably no Pietersen, but he is in the form of his life, a far different batsman from the frenetic whirlwind who used to appear in the late middle order. He was given his opportunity here only because of Ravi Bopara's loss of form, and in the warm-up games and the tournament proper he has looked the part.

Make no mistake, it would amuse England hugely if he could reproduce some of what Pietersen did last time. "He's shown a really big maturity actually," said Broad. "That was shown in Friday's innings. He came in a difficult position.

"But he adapts to conditions really well, he's really grown up as a cricketer. It's really good to have a guy coming in at three who's confident because it's a pivotal position to bat in Twenty20 cricket and any team would want a guy who can clear the ropes like that in their side." So there, Kev.

It is India's frequent way in these matters to do just enough. Perhaps this is bestowed by the enduringly placid temperament of their captain, MS Dhoni. But they look vulnerable here, taking a huge risk by playing only four specialist bowlers, not all of whom are up to it.

They are depending on their batting to see them through, which may not be enough. But in 23-year-old Virat Kohli, they have the limited-overs batsman de nos jours. He has scored five hundreds in his last nine one-day international innings and three consecutive T20 fifties.

England's fundamental system is fairly simple: while batting, keep wickets in hand at the top of the innings and blast later on, and while bowling take three early wickets so opponents have no way back. It might just work.

Arts and Entertainment
The eyes have it: Kate Bush
music
Arts and Entertainment
booksNovelist takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Arts and Entertainment
Al Pacino in ‘The Humbling’, as an ageing actor
filmHam among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
News
Fifi Trixibelle Geldof with her mother, Paula Yates, in 1985
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
Mario Balotelli in action during his Liverpool debut
football ...but he can't get on the scoresheet in impressive debut
Environment
Pigeons have been found with traces of cocaine and painkillers in their system
environmentCan species be 'de-extincted'?
Arts and Entertainment
booksExclusive extract from Howard Jacobson’s acclaimed new novel
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
A Pilgrim’s Progress is described by its publisher as “the one-and-only definitive record” of David Hockney's life and works
people
Sport
Loic Remy signs for Chelsea
footballBlues wrap up deal on the eve of the transfer window
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Art
Arts and Entertainment
Elizabeth McGovern as Cora, Countess of Grantham and Richard E Grant as Simon Bricker
TV
Life and Style
Instagram daredevils get thousands of followers
techMeet the daredevil photographers redefining urban exploration with death-defying stunts
Arts and Entertainment
Diana Beard, nicknamed by the press as 'Dirty Diana'
TVDaughter says contestant was manipulated 'to boost ratings'
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
Al Pacino wows Venice

Al Pacino wows Venice

Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

Neil Lawson Baker interview

‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

As the collections start, fashion editor Alexander Fury finds video and the internet are proving more attractive
Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy

Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall...

... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy
Weekend at the Asylum: Europe's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln

Europe's biggest steampunk convention

Jake Wallis Simons discovers how Victorian ray guns and the martial art of biscuit dunking are precisely what the 21st century needs
Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Lying is dangerous and unnecessary. A new book explains the strategies needed to avoid it. John Rentoul on the art of 'uncommunication'
Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough? Was the beloved thespian the last of the cross-generation stars?

Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough?

The atomisation of culture means that few of those we regard as stars are universally loved any more, says DJ Taylor