A men’s ICC World Cup. Kane Williamson’s New Zealand. Eoin Morgan’s England. Knockout match. Kumar Dharmasena and Marais Erasmus as the umpires.
Except for the venue, the absence of Ben Stokes and the format, we are all set for an exciting rematch of the 2019 ODI World Cup final when the two sides meet in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday.
In fact, their previous T20I meeting also ended in a Super Over that went in favour of England. That was exactly two years ago on this day, when England won the 5-match series 3-2 against New Zealand in Auckland.
Morgan’s England have been hit by injuries but go into Wednesday’s ICC Men’s T20 World Cup semi-final as favourites against New Zealand, two years after both sides clashed in a dramatic match. England have lost opening batsman Jason Roy and pace bowler Tymal Mills but they sealed a final-four place with four wins in five Super 12 games. Roy collapsed on the pitch with a calf injury in England’s final group match that they lost to South Africa and was later ruled out of the tournament and replaced by James Vince.
England’s aggressive brand of cricket got them past West Indies, Bangladesh, Australia and Sri Lanka with clinical ease to finish as group leaders ahead of the Aussies.
But the Kiwis are no pushovers and who better than England to appreciate the Black Caps’ worth after they needed a Super Over followed by boundary count to edge out Kane Williamson’s side when the 2019 ODI World Cup final finished in a tie. New Zealand matched England’s 241 courtesy of Stokes’ unbeaten 84 at the end of 50 overs and then their 15 in the super over before England were declared winners on boundary count.
“If England and New Zealand provide a fraction of the drama they did on a glorious afternoon at Lord’s in July 2019, then the T20 World Cup might get the spark it desperately craves this week,” former England captain Mike Atherton wrote in The Times.
England have reached the final four of the T20 World Cup without star performers Stokes and Jofra Archer and Roy’s departure adds to their woes ahead of Wednesday’s game in Abu Dhabi.
Jos Buttler hit the tournament’s only century in his unbeaten 101 against Sri Lanka and remains second best run-getter behind Pakistan captain Babar Azam (264) with 240 runs.
Chris Woakes leads the pace bowling charge ably supplemented by Chris Jordan while spinners Adil Rashid and Moeen Ali have proved their value with eight and seven wickets each respectively, playing according to the opponent match-ups.
New Zealand have usually been underdogs in top events despite their constant success of getting to the business end. The runners-up finish in the ODI World Cup and becoming world Test champions after beating India in the final has proved their consistency across formats. In 2016, their campaign came to a close in the semi-final against England as well.
Pace bowlers Trent Boult and Tim Southee have shared 18 wickets between them to trouble opposition teams with their early strikes.
After losing their opener against Pakistan, Williamson’s New Zealand have worked as a well-oiled machine and hammered India in their second game to get the momentum in their favour. They then brushed aside Scotland, Namibia and Afghanistan to march into the semi-finals but Boult acknowledges his opponents as a well-balanced side.
“Full of match winners. Very well balanced team playing some very good white-ball cricket at the moment. Let’s hope we can create a big upset,” said Boult, a left-arm quick. “There has been a good history between the two sides in white-ball cricket. I am sure there are people watching this one with lot of interest.”
Boult has a strike rate of 10.7 in this tournament and believes early wickets against an in-form England top-order will be key to success.
“We know the magic recipe that early wickets does put pressure on the oppositions,” he said.
“Days it doesn’t happen, days it does, but if we could go out there and disturb a very powerful England top-order then I think we will be successful. But it’s definitely not going to be easy.”
ENG vs NZ H2H in men's T20Is
|Matches||England won||NZ won||Tied||NR|
|T20 World Cup||5||3||2||0||0|
|Overall||21||12 (+1)||7||1 (England won super over)||1|
ENG vs NZ at Men's T20I World Cup
|New Zealand won||5 runs||Durban||18 Sep 2007|
|England won||3 wickets||Gros Islet||10 May 2010|
|England won||6 wickets||Pallekele||29 Sep 2012|
|New Zealand won||9 runs||Chattogram||22 Mar 2014|
|England won||7 wickets||Delhi||30 Mar 2016|
Eoin Morgan, England captain
“We can’t wait. Obviously a big achievement within itself coming through the group stage like we did, topping the table. But now it’s all about producing as close to your best as we can. We know how good New Zealand are.
“We know how consistent they’ve been over the last number of World Cups, not only the recent ones but you look further and beyond Kane’s role as captain. New Zealand have always been extremely competitive in and around semifinals and finals, consistently, for some time now. So we’re looking forward to the challenge.”
Kane Williamson, New Zealand captain
“I suppose whenever you play a game of cricket, you’re focusing on the important parts to your game that give you the best chance. And no doubt England will be doing something very similar. And both teams have been playing well throughout the tournament. It should be a really good game of cricket. And coming into the competition, every side has match winners which makes way for a really exciting event and we’ve seen that throughout the last sort of three weeks.
“It’s great to be here in the finals. For us it’s going out and playing our game, expressing ourselves and committing to those little things that give us the best chance. But England are a very strong side and have been playing really well. It should be a really good game of cricket.”
Top scorer at 2021 T20 World Cup: Jos Buttler - 240
Top wicket taker at 2021 T20 World Cup: Adil Rashid - 8
Path to semi-final
bt West Indies by 6 wickets
bt Bangladesh by 8 wickets
bt Australia by 8 wickets
bt Sri Lanka by 26 runs
lost to South Africa by 10 runs
New Zealand’s campaign
Top scorer at 2021 T20 World Cup: Martin Guptill - 176
Top wicket taker at 2021 T20 World Cup: Trent Boult - 11
Path to semi-final
lost to Pakistan by 5 wickets
bt India by 8 wickets
bt Scotland by 16 runs
bt Namibia by 52 runs
bt Afghanistan by 8 wickets
England v New Zealand 1930 IST, Zayed Cricket Stadium – Marais Erasmus and Kumar Dharmasena (on-field), Nitin Menon (third umpire), Paul Reiffel (fourth umpire), David Boon (match referee).
With AFP, ICC and ESPNCricinfo inputs