Up until a week ago, the India-England clash was supposed to be the marquee clash of the tournament. Two sides that were most audience’s favourites even before the World Cup started. Forget Australia, who are at the top of the table. No buzz about New Zealand either, who are one win away from joining Australia in the semi-finals. Everything was about India and England – the No 1 and 2 ranked sides in the world. ALSO READ: Virat Kohli unveils India’s “away” jersey

Yet, in a matter of four days, the entire complexion of the contest has changed drastically. India are on the brink of a place in the final four and England in a spot where they need to beat the best side in the world to keep their chances alive. How did it come down to this? Only England know. But in a tension-filled environment, where shots are being exchanged between current and former players, England can reinvent themselves to be the team which started this tournament as co-favourites. Win the next two and advance. But lose one and it appears tough.

The rain has subsided and the sun is out bright, but the real chill seems to be missing in the dressing room. Admit it or not, Eoin Morgan and his team are under extreme pressure. They need to beat India and later New Zealand to ensure they go through. If not, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Sri Lanka continue to breathe down England’s neck. Their problems are self-inflicted. On the traditional flat surfaces, they score, and score big. But whenever their batsmen are subjected to a surface which tests their technique and skills to adapt, they go down.

Then there is the absence of Jason Roy, who is still under scanner despite hitting the nets. James Vince has all but shut the doors on his one-day career. Without Roy, England’s top order has looked more vulnerable than India’s middle order, which further leaves Joe Root, Morgan, Jos Buttler and Ben Stokes to apply ointment on a wound already beginning to scratch and itch.

There’s more than just the “away” jersey which India will bring to the table. Their bowling is such that in the last two games, their back-up bowler – Mohammed Shami has taken eight wickets. Though more than that, the way he has transformed himself into this mean, well-oiled fast bowling machine is what’s concerning for England. Partnering him is the No. 1 bowler in the world, Jasprit Bumrah.

Wristspinners Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav have made it a habit to apply a squeeze in the innings and Hardik Pandya and Kedar Jadhav give India the perfect fifth and sixth option. Such is strength of India’s formidable bowling unit that it can nullify the possibility of a middling outing with the bat. How do you top a side like that? England better have the answers to keep their dream alive.