Roy the key man for England, insists India legend VVS Laxman

VVS Laxman at the ICC Men's Cricket World Cup Fanzone in Birmingham
VVS Laxman at the ICC Men's Cricket World Cup Fanzone in Birmingham

VVS Laxman knows a thing or two about setting the tone in one day cricket.

The India legend played 86 white ball fixtures for his country, blasting runs in his trademark explosive style at an average of 31 from the middle order.

But it’s the top that has his focus as India prepare to face England in a key ICC Cricket World Cup fixture on Sunday, with Jason Roy conspicuous in his absence from the home dressing room.

Roy has missed the last three games with a hamstring injury but could return for showdown with India at Edgbaston.

“He’s a big miss and that’s what I maintain,” he said.

“If you see the template, they way England goes about their batting display - 42 times getting over 300 since 2015 - it’s Jason Roy and Jonny Bairstow.

“Use the powerplay to give that foundation for the middle-order batsmen to express themselves. Right from the start the opposition bowlers are under pressure.

“Unfortunately, Vince is not able to do that, Bairstow is not at his best so far in the World Cup, and that’s exposing the middle-order batsmen.

“It’s a big miss, Jason Roy’s injury came at the wrong time for England.”

READ: Slow and steady wins the race as India maintain unbeaten record

READ: Rahul eyes England match after praising India’s restraint in West Indies victory

In fact, Laxman believes that it could prove to be a straight shoot-out between the home batsmen and an in-form Indian attack.

With a fearsome set of bowlers at their disposal, bailing out the Indian batsmen after below-par totals in their wins against Afghanistan and the West Indies, Laxman says that it’s the perfect time to face a depleted England line-up.

“India has got a very formidable bowling line-up,” he continued.

“They don’t only rely on one bowler - Jasprit Bumrah is the best in the world - (Mohammed) Shami, the way he has come back; the wrist-spinners are in good form, Hardik Pandya has not conceded too many runs but also picked up wickets, so India is a very formidable bowling line-up.

“The batting is still not performing at the best - I think they’re playing at 70% of their potential; there’s still something more that they can look for.

“But playing to 70% of their potential and still winning matches convincingly shows that it’s a very strong unit.

“There’s a lot of confidence and a lot of experience in this India team, and I’m sure that they will not be complacent, will give importance to each and every match, and when they do that the result will be in their favour.”

Birmingham hosted #CWC19 fixtures over the weekend. To celebrate the arrival of the Cricket World Cup to the city, the Fanzone in Victoria Square showed live screenings of all World Cup action over the weekend, along with live music, entertainment and food.