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Knock-out cricket starts now for England, says Joe Root

England's Joe Root
England's Joe Root
©Action Images via Reuters/Peter Cziborra

Joe Root believes cool heads will prevail as England prepare for a pair of crunch clashes in their World Cup campaign.

  •  England were beaten by Australia at Lord’s by 64 runs
  • Next up for England are India at Edgbaston and New Zealand at The Riverside

Defeats by Sri Lanka and Australia over the past week have thrown a spanner into England’s semi-final ambitions but their chances of reaching the knockouts are still in their own hands.

A win over India at Edgbaston on Sunday, followed by beating New Zealand in Durham next Wednesday would guarantee a top-four spot, while one victory could also be enough if other results go their way.

And Root claims that keeping your head, even if all around you are losing theirs, is pivotal for England to fulfil their ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2019 ambitions.

 “We believe we’re still more than capable of qualifying for the semi-finals and when that happens, it doesn’t really matter how you got there because that’s when the tournament really starts to kick in,” he explained.

“We’ll see these two games as quarter-finals if you like, which in a way when it comes round to the knockout stage should serve you well.

 “You’re going to have to win big games at some stage in the tournament if you’re going to go on and win it, so it may be that ours have come just a little bit sooner than we anticipated.

 “I personally think we’ve got to be very calm about how we approach the next couple of games.

 “The games themselves might get quite emotional, especially the atmosphere at Edgbaston against India.

 “So it’s about being very clear and precise about the threat the opposition pose and when we’re at our best, what that looks like individually and collectively.

 “If we embrace the challenge in front of us and play anywhere near our potential, we’re more than capable of getting the job done.”

 England lost a tightly-contested T20 series 2-1 to India last year, before beating them by the same scoreline in the ODIs that followed.

 By the end of the one-day series, Root and the English batsmen had a good handle on how to deal with India’s star spinners Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal.

 Nullifying their dual threat will be vital to England prevailing in Birmingham on Sunday, although Root has warned against honing in on one threat at the expense of other potential dangers.

 “You have got to call upon those experiences of playing them [Yadav and Chahal],” added Root. “Before those series we’d not faced them a lot, whereas now we’ve got that in the bank.

 “It’s important that we’re aware of what threat those two pose but also collectively as an attack what India are going to bring to the table.

 “If you look at some other games and how sides have approached playing India – they’ve been concerned about the two spinners but then it has been the other guys that have caused problems or built pressure. It’s about not being too pigeon-holed but also being aware of the threat they bring.”