Ben Stokes says England will be bold in attack when they face India in their T20 World Cup semi-final, with the allrounder insisting that no one will take a backward step in what is set to be a full-throttle, high scoring encounter.
Though Adelaide sits mid-table when the grounds in this tournament are ranked by scoring rate, two aggressive sides will look to take advantage of its short square boundaries and multitude of scoring options. Stokes suggested that while teams were more likely to be cautious in the group stages, England are determined to be nothing of the sort with a place in the final on the line.
“We had a few up and down moments in the group stages, but we can forget about those now. We know if we execute anywhere near where we want to be then we will be a very hard team to beat,” he said. “We’re in a position now that it’s do or die. What I don’t think anyone will do is take a backward step. We talk a lot about how we want to play when it comes to the pressure moments, and what we’ll see here is us trying to deliver on what we talk about, not taking the cautious option.”
Stokes was in the England team that beat India on their way to winning the 2019 50-over World Cup, which, while in the group stage, was another game they could not afford to lose, and believes they will need to bring a similar energy to this occasion. “It’s the way we went out and played that game,” he said. “Rather than look at the result just look at the mindset and mentality. We didn’t take a backward step, so I think we can take a lot of confidence, knowing that if we go in with a similar mindset then hopefully we’ll do alright.”
England trained at the Adelaide Oval on Tuesday, having a first look at a pitch that was used for two matches last Friday. Dawid Malan, who continues his recuperation from the groin strain he suffered against Sri Lanka on Saturday, missed the session but has not yet been officially ruled out of Thursday’s game – though Stokes backed his likely replacement, Phil Salt, to “take that opportunity with both hands and not let [the pressure] phase him”. Mark Wood also sat it out having complained of stiffness but is not considered a serious doubt. India meanwhile had a scare when their captain, Rohit Sharma, took a blow on the arm in nets, though he did not appear to be seriously injured.
Stokes revealed that the England team’s security consultant, Reg Dickason, had visited Pakistan to assess its safety before the Test side’s imminent tour of the country, and that the situation was under constant review in light of last week’s assassination attempt on the former president Imran Khan. “Obviously what happened last week was a bit of a shock to see,” he said. “But Reg has been out there. He’s the best man to assess the situation. Whatever Reg comes back with the players and the people going out on that tour 100% trust him because he’s a man you trust with your life.”