Reece Topley expects crunch England showdown with India to ‘feel like away game’

Reece Topley expects an influx of India fans at Emirates Old Trafford to make Sunday’s Royal London Series decider feel “like an away game”.

Manchester was the birthplace of the ‘Bharat Army’, India’s worldwide supporters’ group, and the city can be relied upon to provide colourful support whenever the team are in town.

Thousands of fans in the area were denied the chance to see their heroes in action last September, when the concluding Test between England and India was postponed a couple of hours before it was due to start, and they will be eager to make up for lost time during the third one-day international.

India fans during a World Cup semi-final at Old Trafford in 2019
India fans made themselves heard during a World Cup semi-final at Old Trafford in 2019 (David Davies/PA)

With the teams trading dominant wins – India by 10 wickets at the Oval and England by 100 runs at Lord’s – the stage is set for a box-office finale.

And Topley is prepared for a pressure situation and mixed reception from the stands.

“I’m expecting a pretty good atmosphere in Manchester, almost like an away game really, but that’s the kind of thing you want to practice,” he said.

“It is a big game, I’ve just got to prepare for that and hopefully wrap up the series. Especially with a World Cup in October, you want those win or you’re out of it sort of games. It’s good to practice with those kind of games.”

Topley comes into the match on a high, having taken England’s record ODI figures in the previous match. He claimed six for 24 at Lord’s, striking across three separate spells and barely giving an inch across 10 accomplished overs.

The 28-year-old insists he will remain level-headed in the aftermath of his career-best showing and start again from scratch.

“It was pretty crazy, not something that you necessarily set out for at the start of your career, but it’s about backing it up and going again,” he said.

“It’s about enjoying the moment but not getting too high and trying to win the series for us. At the end of the day, we’re in a series and it’s 1-1. I enjoy it, I ride the wave, but there’s everything to play for at the weekend.

“There are so many variables that it’s not about saying, ‘I’m going to get five today’. At the top of my mark for each ball, it’s about how I’m getting in the game. But then you need a lot of things at the other end to go your way.”

The challenges will continue to come thick and fast, with six more white-ball games against South Africa, across both formats, before the end of a frantic month.

“The schedule is another thing… I mean, it’s crazy,” Topley admitted.

“You’ve got to do what you can. I think we’ll have had 12 games in 20 something days – that’s a lot for anyone to play on. Maybe there’ll be an eye on that as well.

“I just take that series by series. I’ve got an end goal that I want to be at the World Cup (in October), I want to contribute and be in the team. It’s about taking each day as it comes and trying to get better to attain that goal.”