Opinion: England need gung-ho finish

Blog Opinion

Freedom of expression is a dangerous opponent. Honest toil and endeavour can only get you so far. It is tempting to put India in the more creative light for the Champions Trophy final at Edgbaston.

For the majority of sports lovers, it is preferable to see dare and adventure win over dour and defensive. The application of natural and abundant talent, flowing and unperturbed, is something that always stands out in a major showpiece final.

Freedom of expression is a dangerous opponent. Honest toil and endeavour can only get you so far. It is tempting to put India in the more creative light for the Champions Trophy final at Edgbaston.

Whatever plans England have to squeeze the life out of India's batsmen in the will have to be carried out to perfection. The hosts themselves have done well to get to the final, based on a theory of keeping wickets intact and then letting late order hitters have a bash.

In reality, the lower and middle order have not fired at all, barring Ravi Bopara, so England have again been indebted to Jonathan Trott and to a lesser extent captain Alastair Cook for getting runs upfront.

They still seem a little too one-dimensional in plodding to competitive scores although Joe Root's impishness has given them another dimension. If England do achieve a sense of dominance on Sunday, Cap'n Cook may hesitate in going for the jugular.

Cook has had the foot on the throat against New Zealand in the recent Test match at Headingley but almost came unstuck when he decided to bat on and on. When South Africa were 80 for 8 at the Oval, he sent Bopara and Root to clean up the tail. Such safety first actions will catch up with the skipper soon.

India openers, Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan, have been in emphatic form throughout the whole tournament averaging 90 for the first wicket after partnerships of 127 v South Africa, 101 v West Indies, 58 v Pakistan and 77 against Sri Lanka.

Ian Bell will have to shake his eternal habit of getting a nice 20 and 30 before giving it away. England's top three do not have the energy and electricity that Sharma, Dhawan and Virat Kohli can bring.

The Cook, Bell and Trott triumvirate will need to maximise its potential to keep England heads above water. Then it will be time for Eoin Morgan and Jos Buttler. We are still waiting for a first class delivery from them.

The bowling attacks are pretty evenly matched. If Jimmy Anderson can nip out the openers then England will fancy their chances, although Stuart Broad and Steven Finn are still too inconsistent to be fully effective support.

Likewise, Bhuvneshwar Kumar has the ability to swing the ball while Ishant and Yadav have provided a mixed bag of assistance. What might swing (or spin it) India's way is their duo of Ravis – Ashwin and Jadeja – who can both double up as decent batsmen too.

If we do get a full or truncated match on Sunday, England will have to show more boldness. In the 2004 Champions Trophy final, they finally had the chance to net a major one day final after losing three World Cups in 1979, 1987 and 1992.

Unfortunately, they let the West Indies off the hook. They must grasp the game, even if it takes them out of their comfort zone. It might be the only way.

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