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T20 World Cup: Ian Bell on India vs England and New Zealand vs Pakistan

England's victory over Sri Lanka set up a semi-final clash with India while Pakistan take on New Zealand, and former England cricketer Ian Bell previews both matches.

England take on India in the second semi-final after their win over Sri Lanka in the final group game, and despite losing three wickets in quick succession, I wasn’t too concerned. It felt like we always had enough, and while Stokesy was there – yes it got tight – but we were a boundary or two away from making it pretty comfortable, and it was a good surface, in particular for Sri Lanka, whose strength is in their spinners.

It was a scrappy game with a lot of pressure involved, and it was good to get over the line.

When it comes to handling pressure and these big situations, Ben Stokes is right up there with the best we’ve ever had. He’s done it in Test cricket, 50-over cricket and T20 cricket.

You have the likes of Joe Root, whose numbers are incredible, but in terms of managing pressure situations, he’s one of the best we’ve ever had. Even though he only scored 42 off 36, it was an incredibly calm and composed innings that got England over the line.

The result meant the hosts Australia were eliminated, which I wasn’t overly surprised with. They have a number of younger players coming through who do very well in franchise cricket, but they remained loyal to some slightly older players, and I think what we’ll see off the back of them not getting through the group stage is a new Australian T20 team coming through over the next 12 months.

They’ll obviously be very disappointed, especially at a home World Cup, but they didn’t quite look like an Australian team playing at home. The teams I played in the past were very dominant in home conditions, but this time they didn’t look to be in the same place.

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We’ve had confirmation the pitch at Adelaide will be a ‘used’ pitch, but it’s not the same as a used pitch in the subcontinent where it’ll turn square. It’ll still be a very good wicket. 

When you go to the MCG or the new Perth ground or the Gabba, you’ve got big, square boundaries where you’ve got to hit over 80 yards, whereas Adelaide is the opposite of that. If spin comes into it, the boundaries should make for an interesting match – and the same goes for the seamers. 

With Dawid Malan’s injury, do they bring in another batter, or a yorker bowler in Chris Jordan? Having someone comfortable bowling yorkers would be very handy, and England already bat deep, and a lot of our death bowlers prefer going into the pitch, back of a length, which I don’t think you want to do at the Adelaide Oval. 

But they have got to the semis playing a certain way, and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Phil Salt come in as more of a like for like.

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The T20 format – certainly in this World Cup – throws out upsets, and any team can win this. But when pressure comes on, regardless of the format, as far as the players are concerned, you’ve got to do what you do well and not change, and that should be the message for England – it’s just another day. A lot of these players have played in big matches, so that will help to have that in your locker, but the atmosphere’s going to be incredible and I’m sure there’ll be some nervous people out there.

Watching how South Africa lost to Pakistan, I can’t see how they don’t make the final. When the stars align like that, we know they can put on a great game, and no one will want to face Pakistan right now.

There’s so much talent with the bat and they’ve got quick bowlers; they’re just inconsistent and you don’t know what team you’ll get on the day, but they have the ability to beat anyone. 

New Zealand have been consistently the best side, but Pakistan haven’t played their best cricket and don’t have anything to lose, so my gut feeling is an England/Pakistan final.

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