In this tournament, England have somehow contrived to go from clear tournament favourites to playing knockout cricket two matches before everyone else in the tournament.
A shocking defeat to Sri Lanka where you got the impression 350 would have been chased down easier than the low 200s that were required and then an absolute tonking by the Aussies meant that out of nowhere England looked like they could finish anywhere between 4th and 6th – and, as you should probably know by now, 4th is the last semi-final spot.
How on earth had this happened?
I feel terrible pointing the finger squarely in the direction of James Vince, but I am compelled to do so.
That said, had the England management had a bit of backbone and kept Alex Hales in the squad rather than try and keep the senior campers happy we might have had someone capable of replacing Jason Roy at the top of the order.
Still, it doesn’t matter now – England are back in the mix!
Just seeing Jason Roy face the first ball seemed to have everyone believing that India were beatable and so it proved – and who’d have thought Jonny Bairstow picking a fight with the media was purely to get him fired up enough to knock up 111?
Roy and Bairstow were back doing what they do best – giving opening quickies a bit of tap and getting England off to a good start. Roy, normally needing a couple of games to get his eye back in, picked up where he left off and looked like he might be able to get that hamstring through to the semi-final at the very least.
But where bringing Roy back in was an utter no-brainer, even for England, the selection of Liam Plunkett over Mooen Ali was inspired. Plunkett’s bowling helped England control India in the middle of their run chase meaning that once we’d removed that partnership of Rohit and Kohli the game was up.
Bairstow won the man-of-the-match award but don’t forget what an impact Ben Stokes is having in this tournament. He hasn’t scored the most runs. He hasn’t hit the most sixes. He hasn’t taken the most bowlers. But he is becoming ultra reliable with both the bat and the ball and now I have said that you can guarantee his duck in the next match against New Zealand.
England aren’t through yet but they are not out either.
There’s still some cricket to be played.