Stuart Broad is straining to discover his best form © Getty Images
England have beaten India once in this triangular series on a pitch that had some extra bounce. While India earned a lifeline through rain in Sydney, England were in Perth where the final group match, now a virtual semi-final, will be played. They saw the BBL semi-final played at the WACA and the bounce they saw here has excited them.
"The Gabba and WACA are the best two grounds we could have played India on, aren't they?" England's assistant coach Paul Farbrace said. "I think the bowlers will be running in excited about bowling on here. We watched the Twenty20 game here on Sunday and that was exciting to see the ball flying through, so I'd think the bowlers are looking forward to it. But equally it's a great wicket to bat on. Once you get in with the pace and bounce it's a very good place to bat as well."
Farbrace is happy his side's bowlers are coming good too. James Anderson and Steven Finn rocked India, although they have yet to beat Australia. Stuart Broad hasn't looked at his best either. "They are not far away," Farbrace said. "I think every game they play helps. They both had quite a long break. Also this is the first time Broady has played ODIs since I've been involved. To have him back in is a big boost to the team. He gives us so any more bowling options.
"Finny did so well in Brisbane, Woakes is doing well too. Woakesy is really a sign of where we are as a team. At the start of the summer against Sri Lanka he wasn't in the team and he's now almost one of your first picks and by playing consistently through the summer and selectors backing him he's growing in confidence and his performances have improved. That's what's happening with the team as well. The more they play together the more they see their practice and work ethic is paying off I think they get a knock-on effect in games.
"You also need to have quality in your team. Jimmy and Broady give you that real quality. Belly at the top of the order, Morgs the way he played in Sydney, fantastic quality. It's great your senior players are making contributions and allowing the others to play with a bit more freedom."
Farbrace joined England in controversial circumstances, leaving his Sri Lanka job just before his former employers toured England. His experience from the times with Sri Lanka tells him Ian Bell as opener is a good choice.
"When I was with the Sri Lankans they used to talk about Ian Bell as one of the best players in the world," Farbrace said. "Sanga is a huge admirer of Ian Bell. He played with him a bit at Warwickshire a few years ago, and he's always been a big admirer of Belly. That's something we tend to forget sometimes - we do have high-quality players in our team. Belly is right up there and as good as anybody. The fact he's responded so well to the huge disappointment of not playing as many games as he'd like in Sri Lanka and has played as well as he has done shows the quality of the player really. His innings in Hobart was right up there."
Without being bullish, Farbrace is hopeful about the World Cup because it is just a matter of winning three games once you have avoided the banana skins in the group stage. But the knockout matches are huge pressure, and Farbrace is glad England can give themselves an experience of two of them this week. India might have got a lifeline rather cheaply with the rain in Perth giving them two points, but Farbrace says England are not too worried.
"The weather didn't help us but it's probably what we want because it means Friday is effectively a semi-final and we want to put the boys under pressure, and that's what they're going to be under on Friday," Farbrace said. "We've talked a lot about developing and improvement but winning is the key and this is a chance for us to win a game and give ourselves another chance against Australia before the World Cup starts. I think we should be excited by the fact that effectively it's a knockout game and an opportunity for the lads to show what they can do.
"It would be nice to win back-to-back games, which we're aiming to do. If we get through Friday and beat India we give ourselves a good chance of beating the Aussies on Sunday. Winning back-to-back games would give everybody a lot of confidence. I think the team have taken a lot of confidence from the way they have played so far from Sydney being 40 for 4 to then being 100 for 0 in Hobart was a great step forward. It gives confidence to the players, and that's why winning games of cricket is the best way to get confidence. Yes it would be nice to play Australia again but if we didn't and we beat them on the 14th of Feb I think we'd all take that. But without looking too far ahead, winning on Friday and giving ourselves to beat Australia on Sunday is where we should be looking to be."
Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo
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