HomeENGLISHAll on the line as England and New Zealand meet two years...

All on the line as England and New Zealand meet two years on from that final

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England take on New Zealand in the first ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2021 semi-final, in a rematch of the 2019 Cricket World Cup final and the 2016 T20 World Cup semi-final.

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When England last met New Zealand in an ICC white-ball tournament, there was little to separate the two teams after 50+1 overs each. England claimed the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2019 title only by the barest of margins in that match at Lord’s.

Since then, New Zealand have insisted that that heartbreak is behind them. They have gone on to lift the ICC World Test Championship trophy, and come into this encounter with personnel who weren’t in the middle for that Lord’s match and don’t carry those scars. For the team, this tournament is simply another chance to be rewarded with some silverware for the quality and consistency they have maintained across formats in the past few years.

The two teams are similar in that they are led by canny, inspirational captains, who ensure the team is greater than the sum of its parts and take pride in playing positive cricket. But where England’s aggression plays out primarily through their batting, with players willing to take risks and hit sixes all the way down the order, New Zealand’s aggression is more controlled, and driven by their bowling.

New Zealand’s bowling attack has proved to be one of the best balanced in the competition. In Trent Boult they have a solid left-arm pacer who can swing the ball, a right-arm quick in Tim Southee, someone who can bang the ball in at pace like Adam Milne, a left-arm spinner who dries up the runs in Mitchell Santner, a wicket-taking leg-spinner in Ish Sodhi, and an all-rounder in Jimmy Neesham who can take pace off the ball. They are an in-form attack who have quickly adjusted to the different conditions at each venue, and are expertly rotated during a game by captain Kane Williamson.

Their biggest challenge will be to adjust to the evening conditions at Abu Dhabi. Having played their last three games in the afternoon, their plans will have to account for the possibility of dew.

England, meanwhile, have unfinished business in the tournament. Last time’s runners-up are ranked No.1 in the world, with their big-hitting batters and reliance on match-ups defining their successful approach.

However, their hopes were hit by an injury to Jason Roy, who pulled up with a calf injury during their final Super 12 game. Roy has since been ruled out of the tournament with James Vince drafted into the squad as a replacement. Having lost Tymal Mills to injury as well, and with stars like Ben Stokes and Jofra Archer ruled out before the tournament itself, one wonders if Roy’s injury will prove to be one too far for England.

“He’s a guy who epitomises everything that we are about in the changing room and in the way that we play,” captain Eoin Morgan had said of Roy after his injury. Morgan’s big challenge now will be to rebalance the side for this crucial knockout game.

The teams have met 21 times in the format so far, with England having the edge with 12 wins to New Zealand’s seven. The last time the teams met in a bilateral T20I series, they were locked 2-2 and tied in the final game before England again won the Super Over.

Given the history between these teams, it is perhaps relevant to note that the playing conditions for the tournament now allow for unlimited Super Overs until there is a clear winner.

Fixture details
The match: England v New Zealand, Semi-final 1
Time: 6:00pm local time, Wednesday 10 November
Venue: Zayad Cricket Stadium, Abu Dhabi

The teams
England will be forced to make at least one change, with Roy unavailable for the rest of the tournament. They could push Jonny Bairstow or Dawid Malan up the order to open and bring in Sam Billings in the middle order, or they could draft Vince, who was among the reserves. Another option is to bring in an all-rounder such as Tom Curran or David Willey to boost the bowling as well, which has been hit by the loss of Tymal Mills.

Probable XI: Jonny Bairstow, Jos Buttler (wk), Dawid Malan, Liam Livingstone, Sam Billings, Eoin Morgan (capt), Moeen Ali, Chris Woakes, Chris Jordan, Adil Rashid, Mark Wood

New Zealand have been consistent with their selections throughout the tournament and are likely to stick to a formula that works. They will need to be wary of getting too bogged down in the middle overs.

Probable XI: Martin Guptill, Daryl Mitchell, Kane Williamson (capt), Devon Conway (wk), Glenn Phillips, James Neesham, Mitchell Santner, Adam Milne, Tim Southee, Ish Sodhi, Trent Boult.

Key players
Jos Buttler: Opener Jos Butter has been England’s top scorer, with 240 runs in five matches, including a high score of 101* against Sri Lanka. His runs have come at a strike-rate of 155.84. On surfaces where batters have taken time to get in, he’s shown how to build an innings and accelerate after being set, thus taking the pressure off new batters.

Trent Boult: Left-arm pace bowler Trent Boult is joint-second when it comes to wickets taken in the tournament. He has 11 wickets in five games, averaging 10.45 and going at an economy of under 6 an over. He’s bowled well for New Zealand in the Powerplay, but has also been able to come in later in the innings to take wickets.

Rights and wrongs: A break down of all 12 eliminated teams

Expert Dream11 Fantasy Tips
Captaincy Pick – Jos Butter

England’s wicketkeeper batter has to be the top captaincy pick of this match given his phenomenal form in the ongoing T20 World Cup. He has scored 240 runs in 5 matches played at an average of 120. Adding to it, he also has an impressive record in these conditions having scored 292 runs in 10 matches at an average of 41.7 in UAE.

Must-have – Kane Williamson

The New Zealand skipper seems to have found some sort of form in the last 2 games scoring 40* & 28 against Afghanistan & Namibia respectively. Adding to his present form, he has scored 210 runs in 6 T20Is against England, making him a must-have in this encounter. Not just that, he also has an impressive record at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi, having scored 269 runs at an average of 53.8 in 7 T20s played.

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