Tactics Board: Bhuvneshwar vs Buttler, Wood vs Suryakumar and Kohli's home away from home

Which side will be better suited to exploiting Adelaide Oval's short square boundaries?

Matt Roller
Matt Roller
Clashes between England and India in men's T20Is over the last two years have been frequent and compelling but they have not played each other in a T20 World Cup for a decade, or in the knockout stages of an ICC event since 2013. Here's a look at where the second semi-final in Adelaide could be won and lost.
Adelaide adjustments
The dimensions at Adelaide Oval are unusual compared to most Australian grounds. Depending on which strip is used, the square boundaries are around 60-65 metres, while the straight boundaries are typically much longer, at around 80 metres. India have a slight advantage in that they have played there already, squeezing past Bangladesh via DLS, whereas England will be playing there for the first time.
Across Adelaide Oval's six games at the T20 World Cup, the average score batting first is 157, and the defending team has won four times, making at least 158 on each occasion. Bizarrely, the team that has won the toss has lost the game in all six matches, a trend which extends across the five other men's T20Is that the venue has hosted.
Spinners (7.33 runs per over) have been marginally more economical than seamers (7.67) but have been less potent, with a strike rate of a wicket every 19.5 balls compared to seamers' 17.8. The game will be played on a used pitch, which could mean spin plays a bigger role.
India's slow starts - and strong finishes
India have been among the slowest starters in this tournament. In the Super 12s, they scored at 5.96 runs an over in the powerplay, the fourth-slowest behind Netherlands, Zimbabwe and Pakistan. But they have managed to catch up at the death - no team has scored at a faster rate in the final four overs than their figure of 11.90 runs per over.
They have been particularly cautious against the new ball, scoring only 13 runs in the first over of an innings across their five matches, leaving England with an interesting dilemma: should they look to be ultra-aggressive upfront, or squeeze in one of Ben Stokes' overs in the hope that India's openers will not look to take him down?
England have turned a weakness into a strength since their arrival in Australia: they have been surprisingly effective at the death in this World Cup, having previously struggled to contain teams at the end. That will be challenged against India, and Jos Buttler will need to find a partner to share the burden at the death with Sam Curran. Chris Woakes and Mark Wood are the obvious candidates.
England's batting resources
T20 World Cups are so short - especially when games are affected by rain - that it can be difficult for middle-order batters to face enough balls to make an impact. At last year's tournament, for example, David Miller faced 33 balls, scored 44 runs and was only dismissed once before South Africa bowed out at the end of the Super 12s.
England have faced a similar issue in Australia: Liam Livingstone and Moeen Ali are two of their most destructive hitters, but have only faced 43 and 33 balls respectively in the tournament (both have been dismissed twice). England have been very flexible in how they have deployed batters but must ensure that their best players have a chance to influence the game.
Against India, do not be surprised if Harry Brook - who has struggled in Australia - is held back for the death overs, with Livingstone and Moeen promoted. Moeen has enjoyed success against Ashwin, scoring 51 runs off the 35 balls he has faced from him in T20s, while Livingstone has only faced three balls from him but hit one of them for a towering straight six.
Kohli's home away from home
"I absolutely love playing at this ground," Virat Kohli said after his half-century against Bangladesh. "As soon as I enter the stadium, it just makes me feel at home. This ground and this wicket has been very kind to me."
Kohli's 14 innings there across formats have yielded five hundreds and three fifties.
England will need to find a way to restrict him at his favourite ground outside of India, and Adil Rashid may be their best option. Kohli has been relatively cautious against spin in this T20 World Cup, with a strike rate of 113.55 (compared to 151.69 against seamers) and Rashid has enjoyed success against him before, conceding only 63 runs from 59 balls in all T20s and dismissing him twice.
Match-ups to watch out for
Bhuvneshwar Kumar vs Jos Buttler
No batter has dismissed Buttler more often in T20Is than Bhuvneshwar Kumar and their historical head-to-head stats are grim reading for the England captain: 32 balls, 30 runs, five wickets.
All of those dismissals have come inside the first three overs and most of them against the swinging ball. Buttler has been a cautious starter in this tournament, striking at 108.16 in the powerplay and just 93.54 in the first three overs. He may well follow a similar approach on Thursday.
England are unlikely to change their opening partnerships after first-wicket stands of 81 and 75 in their last two games but could make a minor adjustment to avoid exposing Buttler to Bhuvneshwar immediately. Buttler has taken strike in each of his seven innings since Alex Hales' recall, but could swap to No. 2 in an attempt to minimise the number of balls he will face from Bhuvneshwar.
Dinesh Karthik vs Sam Curran
India picked Dinesh Karthik in their first four Super 12s games but gave Rishabh Pant an opportunity in their win against Zimbabwe. Rohit Sharma explained the change was made "to give him [Pant] a game before the semi-finals", and despite his innings of 3 off 5 balls, India may be tempted to retain him for Thursday's game. Axar Patel is the only other left-handed batter in their top seven, and Pant might be better suited than Karthik at targetting the shorter square boundaries.
But while Karthik is yet to make an impact in Australia, with 14 runs in three innings, his historical record against Curran may play into his favour. Curran has become England's go-to death bowler during this World Cup and has thrived in his new role, but Karthik has taken Curran down when they have faced one another, particularly in the IPL.
Suryakumar Yadav vs Mark Wood
Suryakumar Yadav is the T20 World Cup's in-form batter and the question that England's management will spend the most time considering in the build-up to Thursday night is how to stop him. He has started every innings in fifth gear during this tournament - his strike rate in his first 10 balls is a remarkable 174.00 - and England will need to dismiss him early to avoid him taking the game away from them.
He has faced - and thrived against - several England bowlers in the IPL or in a bilateral series, but there are two possible match-ups that could play into England's favour. The first is Curran, who has bowled eight balls to Suryakumar and dismissed him twice. Both dismissals were caught at deep square leg off slower balls, so expect Curran to take the pace off and hope Suryakumar hits across the line.
The other is Wood, whose seven balls to Suryakumar in T20 cricket have yielded six runs. Suryakumar has often excelled against high pace, and the bounce at Adelaide is not as steepling as at some venues in Australia, but his lack of exposure to Wood's unusual action may make him vulnerable early on. The long straight boundaries might see Buttler post men on the rope at deep third and fine leg as catchers off a miscued upper-cut or hook.
Inputs from Gaurav Sundararaman

Matt Roller is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @mroller98