England captain Eoin Morgan is ready to roll the World Cup dice on the fitness of key pair Jason Roy and Jofra Archer — even if they aggravate their injuries and have to miss the rest of the tournament.
The hosts and pre-World Cup favourites have lost three out of their seven round-robin group games so far, with two to play, and are in danger of not making the semi-finals.
Morgan’s side face a crucial clash with unbeaten India on Sunday after Pakistan’s Saturday win over Afghanistan knocked them out of the top four. And Morgan’s Lions will gamble in a bid to make the semis by throwing destructive opener Roy back in at Edgbaston.
Roy pulled a hamstring against the West Indies on June 14 and has missed England’s last three matches. But a man who has been central to England’s white-ball successes will be rushed back as replacement James Vince has failed to deliver.
Paceman Archer, one of the leading wicket-takers in the tournament with 16, is struggling with a side strain.
Asked if he would take a punt on the pair at Edgbaston even if they risk being ruled out for the rest of the tournament, Morgan said: “Jason is preparing to play, providing he gets through practice unscathed.
“If it’s going to rule him out long-term, absolutely not. If it’s a couple of weeks, yes [England play New Zealand on Wednesday, the semis are on July 9 and 11 with the final on July 14].
“Jofra has the same thing he has been playing with for the last three games. The same rule applies to him, it is was going to rule him out long term, no, short term yes. We want to win the game, it is a huge priority.
“We are in an extremely lucky position playing in a home World Cup. It presents a huge opportunity with two pool games left.
“If we win two, we go through to a semi-final. Win that and we go to a World Cup final. There is still a lot on the line.”
Mathematically, England could still make the semis if they lose to India, but a win would make life much easier.
The pressure is on and it is showing.
Jonny Bairstow called out Michael Vaughan in the week, claiming the ex-skipper wanted England to lose and had a pop at former star batsman Kevin Pietersen, who criticised Morgan’s batting.
But the captain insists the barbs have been overshadowed by the goodwill of the English supporters – despite their stuttering campaign.
Morgan added: “Critics are there to be critical. We haven’t performed well, so they are going to be critical.
“They are entitled to their own opinion. Jonny is entitled to his opinion, like critics are.
“The support we have had from our fans and everyone around the country has been unbelievable. There has been an enormous amount of goodwill going around, it is making our tournament that much more special.”
This will be the 100th one-day international between the two countries, with India having won 53 to England’s 41. But England won the two most recent encounters, at Lord’s and Headingley last year, to give them confidence against a ODI team who have taken over as world No.1
Morgan said: “The team has had success against India. We lost away from home in a tight series but we believe we can beat them because we beat them before.”
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