Ben Stokes feels it is “do or die” for England at the T20 World Cup as they look to belatedly hit their stride in a much-anticipated semi-final showdown against India on Thursday.
England by their own admission were not firing on all cylinders despite a top-two finish in their Super 12s group although damper and cooler weather meant batting conditions were trickier than anticipated.
A used pitch at Adelaide could prompt prudence from England but Stokes instead believes the knockout stages of a tournament are when sides need to go full throttle as they bid to go all the way.
“We’re in a position now that it’s do or die,” he said. “What I don’t think anyone will do going into this game who plays is take a backward step.
“We talk a lot about how we want to play when it comes to the pressure moments and what we’ll see here is us trying to deliver on what we talk about, not taking the cautious option.
“We’ve seen glimpses of what we’re able to do but we know as a team we’ve not really played to the levels that we would have liked to. But Thursday’s going to be a big day, hopefully.”
England were backed into a corner after a shock rain-affected defeat to Ireland a couple of weeks ago and, faced with having to win four games in a row to go all the way here, they are halfway there.
It was an identical situation in their triumphant 2019 campaign, starting when they beat India at Edgbaston and New Zealand at Chester-le-Street before thrashing Australia back in Birmingham.
A tour de force showing from Stokes then helped England squeak past the Black Caps in the Lord’s showpiece and the star all-rounder hopes they can harness the 2019 attitude over the next few days.
“If we go in with the similar mindsets to what we had in those big games, then hopefully we’ll do alright,” Stokes said. “I guess it’s just about reminding each other again that this is what we’re about.
“This is how we want to go into these games with the mindset of being aggressive, always putting the front foot forward and not shying away from from the pressure situations, I guess.
“But we don’t do too much talking now. Because Thursday is obviously where all the focus is for the team. We know what we’re going to need to do.”
Stokes has been seen with heavy strapping on his left knee in recent weeks but all the 31-year-old said, perhaps half-jokingly, with regard to his overall fitness was that he was “better than bad”.
Fast bowler Mark Wood has emerged as an injury concern after pulling up during England’s optional training session on Tuesday afternoon with what was described as general body stiffness.
England will be hoping the issue is merely a knock-on consequence of the tournament’s demands and he is fit for Thursday while Dawid Malan still remains doubtful after tweaking his left groin last weekend.
Malan did not bat after sustaining the injury while fielding against Sri Lanka, when Stokes’ composed 42 not out off 36 balls set England on a collision course with India’s star studded line-up.
“One thing we will definitely try and do is focus more on ourselves rather than too much on India but also take into account the Indian players and the form that some of their guys are in,” Stokes said.
“But we know that if we play anywhere near as well as we know we can, we are a very hard team to beat.”
England Test captain Stokes feels white-ball counterpart Jos Buttler has stamped his authority after 50-over World Cup winning captain Eoin Morgan announced his international retirement last summer.
“We’ve all understood as a group that we are a part of the new team, part of the new era,” Stokes added.
“Let’s try and carry it on even further and leave cricket in a better place than when we started, like Eoin did when he finished.”