New Zealand and England are about to take on each other for the second time this series after the first round was narrowly won by the Kiwis. The English have yet to pick up a victory, and they will need to win by a big margin to enter the final against Australia.
The Kiwis return from a disheartening loss which saw Australia create the record for the highest T20I chase ever, scoring 243 with seven balls to spare. They have scored over 190 for two games on the trot now. Can they do it for a third time to enter the final in style?
Eoin Morgan(c), Sam Billings, Jos Buttler, Tom Curran, Liam Dawson, Alex Hales, Chris Jordan, Dawid Malan, Liam Plunkett, Adil Rashid, Jason Roy, Ben Stokes, James Vince, David Willey, Mark Wood, Sam Curran, Jake Ball
Kane Williamson(c), Tom Blundell, Trent Boult, Tom Bruce, Colin De Grandhomme, Martin Guptill, Anaru Kitchen, Colin Munro, Seth Rance, Mitchell Santner, Ish Sodhi, Tim Southee, Ross Taylor, Ben Wheeler
Where the Teams Stand
Captain Eoin Morgan’s return to the side might not be as big as the England fans want it to be. While a big hitting batsman, his inconsistency is often a hindrance to his team. He's just as likely to score a century out of nowhere as he is to throw his wicket cheaply. Still, having him in the team gives them a fighting chance of toppling down any potential total. Jason Roy’s form is another concern for the team. The opener has only scored 25 runs in three games combined. Alex Hales and Dawid Malan have been better, the latter being England’s best batsman in the series, scoring two half-centuries so far. The rest of the middle order has been wildly unpredictable, which is where Morgan needs to be the anchor who can accelerate gears when required. With Ben Stokes still unavailable, the responsibility for the batting will likely rest on the top four.
England’s bowling has been dismal to say the least. In all three matches so far, their attack has conceded runs at a rate touching nine, which is simply unacceptable. Given that every single bowler has consequently been expensive and short on wickets (13 wickets in three matches combined), this does not bode well when up against a team that has crossed 190 and 240 in their last two matches. Liam Plunkett has been ruled out of the series due to a hamstring injury with one of Tom Curran or Jake Ball set to replace him. It might be a better idea to select the latter considering that Curran has ended with economies of 9.75 and 11.5 in his last two games. This bowling lineup will find it hard to contain the Kiwis if they continue playing the way they have been.
The Kiwis were very unfortunate to lose the last match. Their confidence almost certainly took a huge hit as a result, but they must keep their heads up for this match. They have been batting phenomenally, and Colin Munro’s return to form in the last match is a positive sign for them. Martin Guptill has been their standout batsman so far. He scored a century in the last match and 65 in the one before that. If he continues scoring at the rate he has been, England will struggle to reach the final. The Kiwis have a chance at qualification even if they lose, albeit by a small margin. They do not have the pressure of performing in the way England do. This can easily catalyse another good performance, or cause them to fold cheaply. Either way, the batting will be heavily reliant on a few key players, just as with England. The openers, Kane Williamson, and Colin De Grandhomme/Ross Taylor, will be the ones responsible for scoring the bulk of the runs. They have been very successful so far, barring the first match, and their team needs them to continue to be so.
Expensiveness is an issue plaguing the Kiwis as well. They have conceded at an exorbitant rate in all of their matches so far, perhaps at a rate even higher than the English. But whereas all the bowlers in the entire English bowling lineup are equally expensive, New Zealand do not suffer from the same problem. Some of their bowlers have been economical on some days and expensive on the others, and vice versa. This might not be a huge difference, but it might prove to be key on match day strategically. The Kiwis have been slightly more successful in the wickets department, taking 17 in the last three matches. Regardless, both attacks are suffering from the same issues, indicating that the match will once again rest on who can bat better.
England win. Though New Zealand have been brilliant, one cannot be sure how much more the same players can keep doing. It remains uncertain whether the Kiwis can cope if the usual names fail, and it doesn't look likely.