Eoin Morgan’s England have been hampered by injuries, but they go into Wednesday’s Twenty20 World Cup semi-final against New Zealand as favorites, two years after they met in a thrilling 50-over final.
England lost opener Jason Roy and pace bowler Tymal Mills, but they still made the final four with four wins in five Super 12 games.
Roy collapsed on the pitch in England’s final group match, which they lost to South Africa, with a calf injury. He was later ruled out of the tournament and replaced by James Vince.
England’s aggressive style of cricket propelled them past the West Indies, Bangladesh, Australia, and Sri Lanka with clinical ease, putting them ahead of the Aussies in the group.
But the Kiwis are no pushovers, and who better to appreciate the Black Caps’ worth than England, who needed a super over to beat Kane Williamson’s side in the 2019 ODI World Cup final?
“If England and New Zealand provide even a fraction of the drama they did on a glorious afternoon at Lord’s in July 2019, the T20 World Cup may get the spark it desperately needs this week,” former England captain Mike Atherton wrote in The Times.
New Zealand matched England’s 241 at the end of 50 overs, thanks to Ben Stokes’ unbeaten 84, and then added 15 in the super over before England was declared the winner on boundary count. England has made it to the final four of the T20 World Cup despite the absence of star performers Ben Stokes and Jofra Archer, and Roy’s departure adds to their woes ahead of Wednesday’s game in Abu Dhabi.
Jos Buttler scored the tournament’s only century, an unbeaten 101 against Sri Lanka, and is the second-highest run-scorer with 240 runs, trailing only Pakistan captain Babar Azam (264).
Chris Woakes leads the pace bowling attack, which is ably supplemented by Chris Jordan, while spinners Adil Rashid and Moeen Ali have each taken eight and seven wickets.
New Zealand has been a perennial underdog in major tournaments, but finishing second in the ODI World Cup and becoming world Test champions after defeating India in the final have demonstrated their consistency across formats.
Trent Boult and Tim Southee, both pace bowlers, have taken 18 wickets between them to cause problems for opposing teams with their early strikes.
After losing their opener to Pakistan, Williamson’s New Zealand worked like a well-oiled machine in their second game, hammering India to gain momentum.
They then defeated Scotland, Namibia, and Afghanistan to advance to the semi-finals, but Boult recognizes his opponents as a well-balanced team.
“Packed with match-winners.” At the moment, a very well-balanced team is playing some excellent white-ball cricket. “Let’s hope we can cause a major upset,” said Boult, a left-handed pitcher.
“The two sides have a long history of playing white-ball cricket together.” I’m sure there are a lot of people watching this one with bated breath.”
Trent Boult, a left-arm seamer from New Zealand, has 11 wickets in the tournament. Image credit: AFP/File
In this tournament, Boult has a strike rate of 10.7 and believes that early wickets against an in-form England top-order will be critical to success.
“We know the magic recipe that early wickets put pressure on opponents,” he said.
“There are days when it doesn’t happen and days when it does, but if we can go out there and disrupt a very powerful England top-order, I think we’ll be successful.” But it’s not going to be easy.”