The endgame of the league phase of the 2019 Cricket World Cup is upon us and a bunch of tasty fixtures are in store as teams look to book their slot in the semis.
England take on New Zealand at Durham on Wednesday with both teams are yet to seal a semis berth. The Kiwis enter the fixture with consecutive defeats against Australia and Pakistan whereas England are fresh from a convincing win over India.
If England defeat the Kiwis, they will jump to 12 points and qualify for the semi-finals in what is the final fixture of the league phase for both teams. If the Kiwis triumph, they will qualify and leave the Englishmen stranded on 10 points, giving Pakistan – on nine points – a sniff in their last game against Bangladesh.
We take a look at some of the talking points ahead of the big tie.
Under-performing New Zealand openers need to peak
New Zealand failed to translate a strong opening to their World Cup campaign to a top-spot finish after hiccups on the way against Australia and Pakistan. The Kiwis were unbeaten in their first six games in which they didn’t face any team among the current top-four.
Despite the wins, Kiwis failed to establish themselves as a force to be reckoned with due to over-reliance on captain Kane Williamson.
The openers have failed to impress in the tournament and that is a serious flaws in their campaign. Martin Guptill has failed to fire and has already lost partner Colin Munro to poor form. The new pairing of Guptill and Henry Nicholls need to step up.
Strong favourites to lift the cup, hosts England had to endure a bumpy ride with defeats to Pakistan, Australia and Sri Lanka.
But Eoin Morgan’s men bounced back with a spectacular win to end India’s unbeaten streak and ensure that their fate still rests in their hand. The batting has always delivered for England, with Jason Roy and Ben Stokes proving to be the most consistent.
With a sensational ton against the Men in Blue, Jonny Bairstow has also joined the act and will be geared up in what could be a do-or-die affair.
With the momentum in their favour and the tremendous home support, England start as favourites.
Jofra Archer v Trent Boult
Jofra Archer has been England’s best bowler in the campaign. The pacer has picked up 16 wickets so far and has maintained top pace throughout. Archer has been unplayable at times and could play a key role in dismantling New Zealand’s top-order.
Trent Boult has been unusually quiet so far but even in silence, he has claimed 13 wickets. On his day, the pacer can easily rattle any opposition. The Kiwis now encounter a strong batting line-up and could use a Boult master-class.
Two extremely competent pacers go head to head in with a spot in the semis on the line. Can’t ask for anything more.
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