England’s lucky charm Liam Plunkett hopes he can work his World Cup magic once again when the hosts take on New Zealand with a semi-final place at stake.
Victory for either side in at Chester-le-Street on Wednesday would assure them of a place in the last four and leave the losers sweating on results elsewhere.
The experienced Plunkett justified his World Cup recall with a return of 3/55 in England’s 31-run win over previously unbeaten India at Edgbaston on Sunday, with his haul including the prized wicket of Virat Kohli.
England desperately needed to win after back-to-back defeats by Sri Lanka and reigning champions Australia.
Plunkett missed both of those games, as well as a previous group-stage loss to Pakistan, meaning he is the only one of the 13 players England have used so far at the World Cup who remains undefeated.
“It’s nice to have that (unbeaten streak), but I think it’s just the way it has worked,” said Plunkett, who returned at Birmingham in place of dropped off-spinner Moeen Ali. “If I do play hopefully I can make a difference.”
He added: “People know if you’re not playing you’re obviously frustrated – it’s about not showing it. How can you get back in the team? By bowling well in practice.
“Even though I’m 34 can I work on something else tomorrow that could help down the line?”
Plunkett may not have the raw speed of Jofra Archer of Mark Wood but he has often been trusted with the difficult job of bowling in the middle overs, using variations in pace and delivery angle to achieve success.
Kohli is not the only world-class batsman to have been dismissed by Plunkett at the World Cup, with his previous victims including South Africa’s Hashim Amla and the West Indies’ Chris Gayle.
“I haven’t got the ability to just come in and bowl rockets all the time like Jofra or Woody,” said Plunkett. “Some days I feel good with the pace and others less so, but I’m still skilful enough to pick up wickets.”
Wednesday’s match will see Plunkett back at the headquarters ground of Durham, the county where he started his career.
“It’s an amazing journey I’ve been on and to think that if you win three games of cricket then you win the World Cup. This team is capable of doing just that.
“But nobody is celebrating like crazy. We know we need to go and win the next game and get the momentum going. It is good we’ve had our kick up the backside.”