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Martin buoyed by England progress

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England’s Visually Impaired team are “on a bit of a roll” as they head into tomorrow’s World T20 semi-final against Pakistan, according to Ian Martin, the ECB’s head of disability cricket.

Luke Sugg’s side could not have been handed a more difficult start to their campaign, with their first two matches pitting them against the leading teams in the VI game.

After suffering defeats to Pakistan and host nation India, England then suffered further setbacks as a surprise loss against Sri Lanka was followed by a washout that prevented their game with Bangladesh from taking place.

Under extreme pressure, England responded superbly and yesterday’s seven-wicket triumph over West Indies represented a fourth victory in succession.

They therefore head into a rematch with Pakistan in high spirits.

“Once you get a win on the board you realise you’re not as bad as your previous results are making out and it gives the team a bit of confidence,” Martin told ecb.co.uk.

“We’re absolutely over the moon, because we started quite slowly with defeats against Pakistan, India and then Sri Lanka, but since then we’ve won four on the bounce and we’re into a semi-final. We’re on a bit of a roll at the moment.”

Ian Martin

Ian Martin, the ECB's head of disability cricket, is delighted with the character England have shown at the inaugural VI World T20 in India

Martin reflects on Saturday’s impressive three-wicket victory over Australia - in which an imposing total of 273 for six was overhauled - as the highlight of England’s campaign thus far.

Yet he concedes there was frustration in the camp following the earlier reverse at the hands of Sri Lanka.

“India and Pakistan are recognised as the strongest two teams in the world, so when we first saw the draw and the way the fixtures had worked out, it was just about looking at the positives and making sure that if we did lose (the first two games) we didn’t lose focus,” Martin explained.

“We set ourselves out to get through the India and Pakistan games and then get stuck into the tournament from there really. So to lose against Sri Lanka was disappointing, particularly when we were in a good position to win the game.

“We didn’t carry out any of the three disciplines to the best of our ability. To win a game of cricket you’ve got to be doing all three reasonably well and sadly we just had an off day.”

With confidence now restored as a result of recent performances, Martin has challenged England to hit new heights against Pakistan, who will start the semi-final as strong favourites.

“At the end of the day, if we take our best batting game, our best fielding game and our best bowling game into that fixture then we can’t actually do any more than that,” he reasoned.

“Let’s get in there, give it a good go, make sure Pakistan know that they’re in a game and see where it takes us.

“Twenty20 can be a bit of a lottery anyway, so with a bit of luck and if we perform to the best of our ability we’ll hopefully put ourselves in with a chance of beating them.”

Regardless of the outcome tomorrow, England’s players will undoubtedly take much from their time in Bangalore, where the locals have demonstrated a keen interest in the inaugural VI World T20.

“The support from the local community has been absolutely fantastic. It has far exceeded our expectations,” Martin revealed.

“There are billboards up all around the city advertising the tournament; there are buses going around advertising the tournament. It’s just been a fantastic experience for all involved.

“We’ve got a couple of young lads who have never been to this part of the world before, so as well as being a fantastic cricketing experience it’s been a wonderful life experience for them.”