England reached the semi-finals of the T20 World Cup with a nervy four-wicket win over Sri Lanka in Sydney, but that also came with an injury problem for Jos Buttler’s side.
An excellent bowling performance in the last 10 overs, led by Adil Rashid, backed up by a good opening partnership between Alex Hales and England captain Buttler helped them reach the last four.
However, Dawid Malan did not bat for England after the batter limped off towards the end of Sri Lanka’s innings.
He left clutching his groin and went unpadded as England chased a 142 target with two balls to spare.
The number three scored 56 runs for England in three innings, including 35 runs in a losing effort against Ireland.
If he did not set the World Cup on fire, Malan is an important part of the team. He often anchored a round and gave more offensive players the freedom to take risks.
Michael Atherton believes the schedule will give Malan the maximum time to recover.
“I guess to Malan’s advantage it’s the second semi-final so he has an extra day to recover. But the way he pulled it off, he stopped very abruptly and that you scared a little for him,” he said.
If he is out, Malan will be a big miss for England, but it also provides opportunities for those waiting in the wings to claim a regular place in the squad.
Who could Buttler call on if Malan is out? England have Phil Salt, David Willey, Chris Jordan and Tymal Mills as options.
Should Phil Salt open?
Salt would be the obvious choice in the list of four substitutes to replace Malan. As the lone hitter, one would expect him to step straight into the higher order.
Salt was impressive heading into the tournament, scoring 167 points in the seven-game series against Pakistan.
However, adding Salt to the roster would mean he would either have to enter at an unknown number three position, enter lower in the order, or move Alex Hales to the top of the order.
Buttler and Hales have shown positive signs of a dangerous opening partnership in the last two games of the group stage, and England are unlikely to want to disrupt that.
Salt would likely come in at number three, or lower in the order, with Ben Stokes promoted to the order.
England showed after Hales and Buttler that the batting order is flexible, and adding Salt into the equation would give Buttler another explosive option.
“England beats so deep and you bring in an impact player, you don’t want to wait and pick the moment and create hesitation in his role,” said former England captain Eoin Morgan.
“You want to give him complete clarity in the role he comes in.
“I completely understand (Alex) Hales played brilliantly tonight and he just formed a new partnership with Jos Buttler, but you’re talking about the whole batting unit.
“Tonight we saw a massive collapse in that interim period where they should be stable. Salt can send you off into a flyer, so for that reason I would say Phil Salt top of the order.”
Michael Atherton thinks Salt “would fit very well” into England’s batting line-up.
“They have a good replacement in Salt, who is a real shooter at the top of the order and would fit in very well in there. It would take a bit of shuffling around him, but they have a suitable replacement,” he said.
Could England add an extra bowler?
At the last T20 World Cup, England fell in the semi-finals to New Zealand, largely due to poor bowling from the death.
This year England have improved a lot in this phase of the game with Sam Curran in the lead, going 10-94 in four games.
England used variants to restrict running teams, but the size of the limits at the Adelaide Oval meant the Yorkers were more effective at the death.
Eoin Morgan thinks Buttler and Matthew Mott could turn to a bowler to bolster their bowling line-up.
He said: “Every ground they’ve played on so far, they’ve come into the wicket, picking up pace or picking up pace. They haven’t been under pressure to play Yorkers.
“I think at the Adelaide Oval you need bowlers with long, straight boundaries. If Jos and Matthew Mott feel they need to add something they might not go for Salt.
“They could bring in a Chris Jordan or a death pitcher to add to that because I think all the other areas could be covered.”
Jordan is very experienced on the kill and would also be an added bonus on the field. Jordan has gone under the last two games and taken four catches.
Tymal Mills and David Willey have also played to the death, but aren’t as experienced as Jordan.
Watch the England semi-final live on Sky Sports Main Event and Sky Sports Cricket from 7am Thursday.
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