England are ready to try their luck on a turning pitch in Delhi this week after watching spinners dominate elsewhere in the World Twenty20.
Their first two matches took place at Bombay’s Wankhede Stadium, on a track captain Eoin Morgan deemed a “bowler’s graveyard”, losing to the West Indies then beating South Africa in the highest-scoring game of the tournament. But there has been a different type of cricket unfolding at venues like Nagpur and Kolkata, with slow bowlers enjoying prodigious turn and batsmen struggling to keep up.
England expect the capital’s Feroz Shah Kotla Stadium, where they play their last two Super 10 matches against Afghanistan oon Wednesday and Sri Lanka on Saturday, to be spin-friendly and worked with a handful of local tweakers in a lengthy net session yesterday.
If conditions in the middle confirm their suspicions, Hampshire’s slow left-armer Liam Dawson could be in line for his international debut against Afghanistan.
England already have Worcestershire all-rounder Moeen Ali and Yorkshire leg-spinner Adil Rashid in their XI and the pair have looked on enviously at some of the pitches on offer in Group Two.Moeen said: “There’s been some good pitches for spinners to bowl on so far. Every time Adil and I have watched the games we’ve been saying ‘we’d love to be bowling on that pitch’.
“I didn’t enjoy bowling in Mumbai, it wasn’t really conducive to spin so I hope the other pitches, like here where we play our next two games, will be.
“Obviously this wicket is going to be a little different, a little bit slower and I don’t expect the runs to be coming as quickly.”
Although Moeen spent his formative years as a top-order batsman who bowled as a sideline, he is now a fully fledged member of the spinners’ union and would be pleased to see Dawson join the ranks.
The 26-year-old, a former England Under-19 captain, scarcely played in last summer’s NatWest T20 Blast and bowled just five wicketless overs for Hampshire.
But he caught the eye of Andy Flower during the England Performance Programme tour of the United Arab Emirates over the winter and could yet have a big role to play.
“I’ve worked quite a bit with him, he’s really good,” said Moeen. “He can bowl really well with the new ball and the older ball.”
Australia are up and running in the tournament after Usman Khawaja helped them to a nervy three-wicket victory over Bangladesh in Bangalore yesterday.
Khawaja (58) hit his maiden half-century in the T20 format, and Adam Zampa’s figures of 3 for 23 also underpinned victory with nine balls to spare in Group Two.
Despite Australia’s opening defeat against New Zealand, they are still in with a chance of reaching next week’s semi-finals – while Bangladesh are on the brink of an early exit.
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