Broad appeal for India contest
England versus India tomorrow has no bearing on qualification, but the significance of the game between the World Twenty20 and World Cup holders is not lost on Stuart Broad.
Both have beaten minnows Afghanistan to ensure progression to the Super Eights, with England going into Group One and India Group Two.
When Broad’s and Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s sides meet at Colombo’s Premadasa Stadium, they will be playing for top spot in Group A and impetus ahead of the Super Eights.
“I think it’s hard to call any game meaningless when you’re putting on the three lions of England and you’re taking the field as an international,” said Broad.
“Whether it is a must-win for us or whether we don’t have to win to go through, it won’t change the way our approach to the game.
“Any game against India is huge. It will have massive viewing appeal, and we know how passionate the Indian fans are about their cricket so we want to put on a fantastic show.
“It certainly won’t dampen the mood that we’re already through - it will be a fantastic game of cricket.”
Broad is heartened that, quite apart from yesterday’s ruthless 116-run dismissal of Afghanistan on the back of a brilliant 99 not out from Luke Wright, England have been toughened up for this assignment by some pedigree opposition.
A drawn home series against South Africa was followed by hard-fought warm-up wins here against Australia and then Pakistan.
“We’ve been performing and competing against top-level teams, so it’s not like we’re coming up against India and it’s our first real challenge in the last few weeks,” he said.
“We do know the dangers they offer. But if we focus on what we did really well [against Afghanistan] we can be a challenge for anyone.
“Throughout the whole batting line-up, we struck it really well. If we have batsmen in towards the end, you can see how dangerous we can be, and the aggression we showed with the ball and in the field to take the chances like we did was superb.”
Broad has great respect, but no fear, for an opposition line-up crammed with superstar talent and he is confident England can match them at every step.
“India have got a powerful batting line-up. We know the dangers they offer - they’ve played a lot of Twenty20 cricket domestically and internationally,” he added.
“But one thing I will say if we play cricket like we have here - the way we went about things, the passion, energy we showed in the field - we’ll be in a good position.
“You look through our batting line-up - we’ve got guys who can clear the ropes from ball one - and our bowling unit is powerful as well.
“We’ve got guys who can hit people on the head, brilliant slower balls, good yorkers and good spinners - and if we field like we did on Friday all tournament, we’ll win some games with our fielding as well.”
One of the biggest names in India’s stellar batting order is Yuvraj Singh, back at centre stage after his battle to recover from lung cancer.
Broad is full of admiration for a player he will never be able to forget, having been hit by him for six sixes in an over at Durban in the inaugural World T20 five years ago.
“To have an illness like that is horrible to see, and the whole cricketing world got behind him,” he said.
“It’s great to see him back playing for India; we know what a dangerous player he is, and he’s someone you look out for and do your research on.
“It’s amazing for a player come back from an illness like that and come back as strongly as he has.”
India are considering several alterations from their 23-run defeat of Afghanistan, to give their squad players some match time in case they are needed in the later stages of the tournament.
“We are looking to make a few changes to our playing X1 so that most of the players get at least one game before going into the next stage,” said Dhoni.