T20 World Cup 2022: England Dawid Malan replacement dilemma ahead of India semi-final showdown

Dawid Malan, England’s ICC highest ranked batter, could miss the T20 World Cup semi-final over injury

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Against the daunting odds that faced them following their shock defeat to Ireland in the group stage, England have made it through to the semi-final of the T20 World Cup where they will take on current favourites India.

Jos Buttler’s squad have had a rollercoaster ride of a tournament so far, beating both Afghanistan and Sri Lanka, suffering an embarrassing defeat to Ireland before having to accept a draw with Australia when it was apparent the rain was set to wash away any potential play. Yet thanks to their cohesive - and frequently nail-biting for any English fan - efforts, they will now take on Rohit Sharma and his mighty India team as they continue their bid to hold both white-ball trophies before the year is out.

India have had one of the strongest group stages losing just one of their five matches and with both Virat Kohli and Suyakumar Yadav in flying form England will need their best XI on the field if they are to have any chance of success. However, as is the way with any English World Cup endeavour, injury plagues the dressing room and this time it’s Dawid Malan who looks in doubt to feature, while Mark Wood is once again another concern. So with the world’s seventh best T20 batter out of the game, who is in line to replace the Trent Rockets superstar?

Dawid Malan could miss World Cup semi-final over injury concernsDawid Malan could miss World Cup semi-final over injury concerns
Dawid Malan could miss World Cup semi-final over injury concerns

The most obvious option for the ECB would be a straight batter for batter swap with Welsh-born Phil Salt. He offers a different style of batting, but if Buttler feels his bowling set up needs no improvement, then Salt is one of the only options who could come in higher up the order and help both Harry Brook and Ben Stokes - two characters who had been shy of their expected run rates so far this tournament - that is until Stokes hit an unbeaten 42 against Sri Lanka showing signs of a desperate and most necessary return to form.

Salt may not always be the most consistent of our top-orders - quite frankly, though, which English white-ball batter is known for consistency? - however he has no fear when it comes to attacking the ball from the get go and his recent successes out in Pakistan - notably his 88 off 41 - prove that the Lancashire batter can be ready to hit a boundary from the very first ball.

It seems fair to say that it’s not England’s batting that has won them many of their matches so far, but their bowling. However, when coming against such a fearsome line-up as Indian will be fielding, relying on just one asset is not an option - any opportunity to broaden the batting options may be the only way forward.

Additionally, Salt has experience batting right the way through the order. If necessary, he could open the batting and give Buttler the opportunity to come back down the order. Or, perhaps a more likely option, he would provide a useful buffer in the middle-order in between or just after the aforementioned pair of Stokes and Brook.

There is also the more unlikely alternative that, much like Malan did himself on occasion, he could be pushed back until after the seventh wicket had fallen and give England what could prove to be a decisive boost at the end of the innings.

However, Phil Salt is not the only option. Given England have been excelling with the ball, they could choose to further enhance this weapon by including “super-sub” Chris Jordan in the main squad in an aim to quieten the Indian batters as much as possible.

Jordan has long been known as one of the best dead ball bowlers on the circuit, but arguably his 2021 T20 World Cup passivities ended England’s chances of glory when his third and final over in the semi-final was dispatched for 23 runs by Jimmy Neesham.

“Super-Sub” Chris Jordan during England’s match against New Zealand“Super-Sub” Chris Jordan during England’s match against New Zealand
“Super-Sub” Chris Jordan during England’s match against New Zealand

This is, however, a minor blip in what has been a tremendous record both domestically and internationally with last summer’s the Hundred tournament really showcasing what the Barbados-born bowler can achieve. This year’s tournament, the 34-year-old has also offered up some spectacular catches in the field, highlighting he is ready to serve wherever he is asked.

As previously touched upon, very often Malan would not come out onto the field until the final overs of the innings thus suggesting a quick cameo is all that is really required from his subsequent replacement - a feat Jordan is not unknown to achieve with his own strike rate of 136.6 and average of 15.1 in T20I.

With England set to play India in Adelaide, on a used pitch which could offer up reverse swing, bringing in the adaptability and utility of Jordan would be far from disastrous. Additionally, with England taking on such cricket giants, they will need not only their best bowlers and batters but their best fielders in the playing XI and following his monster catches from earlier this tournament, Jordan could just be the unexpected hero England fans perhaps didn’t realise they needed.

While there are still three other viable options from which England could choose - Tymal Mills, Liam Dawson and David Willey - their lack of sufficient game time suggests that Buttler is unlikely to bring any of these into the attack in replacement of England’s highest ranked T20 batter. Yet, if this tournament has shown us anything, it is to expect the unexpected, so we could even see a complete overhaul in the XI on display tomorrow - although this may be pushing the World Cup’s dramatics just one step too far.

England will play India tomorrow morning at the Adelaide Oval and it is expected to start at 8am GMT. Sky Sports Main Event and Sky Sports Cricket will have all of the action from Australia as the two sides fight for a place in Sunday’s final.