England in last chance saloon against Windies
Silencing Kieron Pollard will be winning half the battle when England, the architects of their own predicament, take on West Indies in Thursday's must-win World Cup Group B match in Chennai.
The team that contributed much of the drama to bring alive the showpiece tournament are now staring at a premature exit, paying the price for showing the kind of spectacular inconsistency that Pakistan were notorious for in the past.
Andrew Strauss's men flirted with danger, tying their match with India and falling victims of giant-killing acts by Ireland and Bangladesh to find that they are no more the masters of their destiny in the tournament.
Even if they beat West Indies at the MA Chidambaram Stadium, the outcome of other Group B matches would determine whether England continue to enjoy the sub-continental hospitality or go home.
At least they can give themselves a chance to qualify for the quarter-finals and eventually win the elusive World Cup with a victory against a West Indies side that looks far from invincible.
West Indies have won their last three matches to return to the race for a quarter-final slot but the reality is those victories were against the Netherlands, Bangladesh and Ireland.
Darren Sammy and his team mates were comprehensively beaten in their only contest against a top-flight team, South Africa, who subsequently went down to England in a low-scoring thriller in Chennai.
"We know we can beat anybody. We have proved that by beating South Africa and the way we played against India. It is a matter of getting both facets (bowling and batting) of the game together," said off-spinner Graeme Swann, who along with Strauss skipped Tuesday's practice with a stomach bug but is expected to play on Thursday.
England will fancy their chances against a West Indies side that seems to rely too much on Pollard.
Even against teams such as the Netherlands and Ireland, West Indies struggled to get going until Pollard came up with swashbuckling knocks to prop them up.
Opener Chris Gayle has had a relatively low-key World Cup so far and the team might struggle if form deserts Pollard.
Their bowling has not been consistent enough either, with the lone exception of spinner Sulieman Benn and England's prospects would hinge to a large extent on how much their batsmen can exploit this chink.
England have been forced into a batting rejig after Kevin Pietersen's exit with a hernia and Matt Prior could not justify his promotion to the opening slot in the match against Bangladesh.
For them, Strauss will have to lead with the bat again, while England will bank on Jonathan Trott's consistency and Eoin Morgan's improvisation to power them to a total their bowlers would be comfortable defending.
The pacemen, especially James Anderson, let England down in the match against Bangladesh and considering the turn that would be on offer in Chennai, England could be tempted to play two spinners on Thursday.
"I hope the wicket is similar to the one we played against South Africa on. I think we will be crazy, if the wicket is like that, not to play two spinners," Swann said.
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