England topped Group 1 with eight points from four matches. Although they finished equal on points with Australia and South Africa, England finished first in their group on the basis of a superior run rate. In the last Super 12 match, their unbroken streak ended as they went down to South Africa by 10 runs. More disappointingly, they lost Jason Roy due to a injury as the opener hobbled off the field.
England will have to go in with a new opening pair for the big clash against the Kiwis. James Vince has been named as his replacement but it remains to be seen whether they move Jonny Bairstow up the order, who has experience of opening in white-ball cricket and has a reasonably good record. Losing Roy is a setback nonetheless for England as he and Jos Buttler form a formidable opening combination.
The Englishmen’s loss to the Proteas did not affect their table standings but pointed to some issues in their otherwise seamless journey. Their death-overs bowling came up heavy attack from Rassie van der Dussen and Aiden Markram as South Africa exited the tournament on a high. Their batting took England close but there have been some inconsistencies in the middle-order.
New Zealand booked their place in the semi-final with a sublime victory over Afghanistan. They did not look in any trouble at all, coming up with a clinical performance with both bat and ball. Following their unconvincing wins for Scotland and Namibia, there were question marks raised over whether they could potentially stumble against Afghanistan.
However, nothing of that sort happened. Still, they have issues at the top of the order and the middle-order also hasn’t been consistent. In the bowling, a lot will depend on the trio of Trent Boult, Tim Southee and leg-spinner Ish Sodhi.
England’s predicted XI: James Vince, Jos Buttler (wk), Dawid Malan, Jonny Bairstow, Eoin Morgan (c), Liam Livingstone, Moeen Ali, Chris Woakes, Chris Jordan, Adil Rashid, Mark Wood
New Zealand’s predicted XI: Martin Guptill, Daryl Mitchell, Kane Williamson (c), Devon Conway (wk), Glenn Phillips, James Neesham, Mitchell Santner, Adam Milne, Tim Southee, Ish Sodhi, Trent Boult
Top fantasy picks for England vs New Zealand semi-final: Jos Buttler, Liam Livingstone, Moeen Ali, Kane Williamson, Ish Sodhi, Trent Boult
--Renin Wilben Albert