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Joe Root still confident England will reach World Cup semi-finals

Joe Root still confident England will reach World Cup semi-finals
© Reuters
The hosts will be treating the game like a quarter-final as they bid to get their World Cup hopes back on track.

Joe Root expects emotions to run high against India on Sunday, in a game England will be treating like a World Cup quarter-final.

A heavy defeat by Australia at Lord's was England's third setback of the tournament and leaves their hopes of reaching the knockout stage precariously balanced.

Winning their last two group games would do the trick, but seeing off both India and New Zealand would require a sharp improvement from a side who have mislaid the spark which saw them begin the competition
as world number ones and red-hot favourites.

India are expected to be well supported when they face England at Edgbaston
India are expected to be well supported when they face England at Edgbaston (Nigel French/PA)

The pressure is rising sharply around the group – from pundits deconstructing their defeats, to rival nations eager to edge them in the standings and, surely, from within their own dressing room too.

Moreover, when they walk out at Edgbaston this weekend there is every chance the majority of the crowd, gleaned in large part from Birmingham's large British Asian community, will be roaring on their opponents.

"I personally think we have to be very calm about how we approach the next couple of games because the games themselves might get quite emotional, especially with the atmosphere at Edgbaston," said Root.

"I strongly believe we are more than capable of qualifying for the semi-finals – when that happens it doesn't really matter how you get there, that's when the tournament really starts to kick in.

"It is almost like we see these two games as quarter-finals, which in a way should serve us really well.

"You still have to win big games at some stage in the tournament if you are going to go on and win it. Ours have just come a bit sooner than expected.

"It would be silly to sit and mope about that and get all caught up in it – we have two opportunities now to go and qualify. If we embrace the challenge that is in front of us and play anywhere near our potential we are more than capable of getting in the semis."

Root can at least approach the game feeling fully fit for the challenges ahead, a luxury not all of his team-mates can claim.

Jason Roy is England's major injury worry ahead of their meeting with India
Jason Roy is England's major injury worry ahead of their meeting with India (Adam Davy/PA)

Jason Roy's availability is the most clear and present issue and a final decision could go all the way to the wire.

The explosive opener tore a hamstring against the West Indies and has been sorely missed over the past three games, with his stand-in James Vince emphatically failing to impress.

Roy is said to be making "good progress" by the England and Wales Cricket Board, but he will take part in both practice days before any verdict is reached.

Jofra Archer, England's leading wicket-taker with 16, is still struggling with tightness in his left side and is also a concern. He passed a morning fitness test to face Australia but looked short of his
best and the ECB said he would "continue to be assessed".

The final area of concern is Adil Rashid's right shoulder, a problem he has been managing throughout the tournament.

Adil Rashid expects to be fit to face India
Adil Rashid expects to be fit to face India (Tim Goode/PA)

The leg-spinner attended the opening of a new urban cricket centre at Leyton Cricket Hub on Wednesday, as part of the governing body's South Asian Action Plan, and allayed concerns.

"It is getting better every day. I'm seeing the physio every other day getting a massage done or a strength session," he said.

"There is no pain bowling because the injections are still in there."

As for the prospect of a hostile crowd – at the same ground where his close friend Moeen Ali was memorably booed during an India game in 2014 – Rashid was pragmatic.

"People will enjoy themselves, have some fun and banter. We will not be fazed by that," he said.

"It is disappointing sometimes, but it happened. The crowd get involved but it does not bother us. We played India last summer at Edgbaston and we enjoyed it and did our job."

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