England breezed into Kolkata, a day ahead of their opponents West Indies, who were still on their way here while trying to recover from their thrilling victory against India in Mumbai.
In Sunday’s final one of the teams will become the first to win the World Twenty20 twice. Eden Gardens is not a beautiful ground and it is unfamiliar to most of this England team but they came wide-eyed; it is a massive stadium even if the capacity has been reduced by around 30,000 with the installing of bucket seats and some new concrete stands.
There is a sense of history when looking out over the Kolkata skyline and the stadium possesses a special atmosphere especially when it is full, which should be the case on Sunday.
Joe Root, England’s young senior citizen, was one of those beaming. “You can’t beat it,” he said. “You dream of these opportunities as a kid, to play a World Cup final. Every time over the past couple of days I’ve looked around the dressing room or at the lads on the bus they have just been smiling. So I think everyone is excited and can’t wait to get out there on Sunday.”
Root has a critical role to play. He is England’s leading run-scorer in the tournament and he is one of those who bats with brains rather than trusting in pure instinct. Unlike some his bat possesses a handbrake.
“I’ve felt pretty good through the whole competition,” Root said. “It’s about putting in one more strong performance and adapting to the situation when we get out there.”
Throughout the tournament England have had to adapt to some dire situations, the necessity to chase 230 against South Africa and to recover from being 57 for six against Afghanistan being the most obvious. “We’ve found ways of winning games,” Root said. “We’ve found ourselves in a number of situations and overcome them. It means that whatever happens on Sunday we’ve got some experiences to call on.”
For Root it has been critical this young England side have stuck with their aggressive, fearless outlook – even when they were on the verge of elimination. “We made sure we did not go away from how we wanted to play and approach our cricket. Having that self-belief in each other meant we could get that win against South Africa and build confidence from there. The best thing is that everyone has contributed in some shape or form, which is always nice going into a final.”
Root was quick to point to the contribution of his captain, Eoin Morgan, who has not yet excelled with the bat in this tournament but is a vital guide on this T20 journey. “I think Morgan’s captaincy has been fantastic across one-day and T20 cricket. We’ve chosen this way, which has probably been a bit of a shift for us, and we’ve stuck to our guns. We’ve kept wanting to improve and when it’s gone wrong we’ve not taken a step back.”
So England give the impression of being ready and raring to go. If they do pull off a victory in the final, which would be only their second in an ICC tournament (the first was in the World T20 in the Caribbean in 2010), they may not be able to match the passion or professionalism of West Indies in their musical celebrations.
However, Root did reveal he had been in his hotel room hammering away at the guitar before turning up for practice at Eden Gardens. With any luck the guitar will remain in that room even if England win.
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