How the spinners from both sides fare could be defining; Bairstow likely to come in for Roy
The ICC Men’s T20 World Cup is at its climactic phase. The quintessential cricket fans cannot ask for a better face-off than the one between England and New Zealand in the first semifinal at the Zayed Cricket Stadium here on Wednesday.
Over the last five years, this has emerged as one of the fiercest rivalries in lCC Championships. Be it World T20 in 2016 or the ODI World Cup in 2019, Eoin Morgan’s marauders and Kane Williamson’s characters have faced each other in the Worlds’ knockouts.
With England toppling New Zealand in both those ties, New Zealand would be gunning to avenge the defeats come Wednesday and keep its hunt for en elusive World title despite being one of the most consistent sides in World tournaments over the last decade.
Williamson would certainly be optimistic about overcoming England this time around, thanks to its clinical performance so far. Despite the loss to Pakistan in the Super-12 stage, New Zealand has hardly put a foot wrong so far in the tournament.
Its bowling attack is as dynamic and skilful as any other around the world and a rejigged batting order — with Daryl Mitchell and Devon Conway playing their new roles to perfection — New Zealand emerged as a consistent unit.
England would be hoping to repeat its feats of 2016 and 2019 despite the absence of two key starts who had shone in those memorable encounters. If it was Ben Stokes’ assault that helped England clinch the World Cup title in 2019, Jason Roy’s blitzkrieg at the top had helped England waltz into the WT20 final in 2016.
With Stokes unavailable for the tournament and Roy having been ruled out of the tournament after injuring himself last week, England will be forced to tweak the combination. No doubt it has a readymade replacement in Jonny Bairstow to partner an in-form Jos Buttler at the top, but a forced change in the batting order could be a cause for concern.
New Zealand, meanwhile, will be banking on its seasoned pace duo of Trent Boult and Tim Southee to counter Buttler & Co.
The long boundaries in Abu Dhabi could result in the spinners emerging as game-changers. Hence, much will depend on how Adil Rashid and Moeen Ali fare in comparison with Ish Soodhi and Mitchell Santner.
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