WT20 Semi-Final Preview: England v New Zealand

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After their horrendous 2015 ICC World Cup campaign, England have returned to limited-overs prominence with a lethal T20 outfit. Harnessing the power-hitting that defines their top order and compiling a bowling attack just good enough to secure victory, England are a bat-first team with the ability to chase any total. New Zealand meanwhile are the surprise package of the tournament. Whilst we sung the praises of their limited-overs pedigree prior to the 2015 50-over World Cup, they have adjusted to the erratic nature of the atypical sub-continent pitches on offer this tournament. A spin arsenal capable of dislodging even the most accomplished batsman, they rightfully head into this match as favourites.

ICC WT20 Semi Final: England v New Zealand – Feroz Shah Kotla, (Delhi)

Kotla and Pitch Analysis

Kotla has hosted three games so far this tournament, with England fortunate enough to have played in two of them. Whilst that should give them a slight advantage heading into this final, the slow nature of the track suits New Zealand far better. The likes of Joe Root and Kane Williamson should thrive in such situations, whilst Guptill, Munro, Hales, Roy and Buttler should find it difficult to time the ball given their more power-based approach to scoring runs. On the bowling front, pace off the ball in the form of spin or pace-bowling variations will be crucial. Aside from Adil Rashid, none of the England bowlers stand-out as truly world-class options. For New Zealand however, their ability to play up to three spinners in a side, combined with the likes of Mitchell McClenaghan, Adam Milne and Corey Anderson gives them a significant advantage in terms of versatility.

Arguably the greatest factor in this match will be the toss. Over the past two seasons, 9 of the 10 IPL matches played at this ground have been won by the side bowling first and chasing at night. In the day-match against Afghanistan, England elected to bat first, however Sri Lanka won the toss and chose to bowl in the more recent day/night fixture. South African also chased a modest Sri Lankan total at night. Dew often plays a role in Delhi matches, hence the preference to chase, but we haven’t seen many, if any, matches decided by the weather this tournament. For that reason, history could very well be deceiving us and bowling first on a track which may just slow further throughout the 40 overs may be a mistake.

Over the past two IPL seasons, only two 1st innings totals have failed to reach 140. Already in this tournament, England have posted just 142 against Afghanistan and 171 against a poor Sri Lankan side, whilst Sri Lanka managed just 120 against South Africa. The conditions are evidently a little less suited to batting than they usually are – as has been the case at most venues this tournament. That fact just plays further into New Zealand’s hands.

Team Selection

England

England don’t have much scope to make team changes here. Eoin Morgan has been abysmal for some time now, but dropping the team captain at the semi-final stage of a tournament – even if he is a liability – would be a bold move. Don’t expect an additional spin bowling option given Moeen Ali’s ability with the ball, whilst Plunkett has out-bowled Reece Topley so far in this tournament and should retain his place.

England Probable XI: Jason Roy, Alex Hales, Joe Root, Eoin Morgan (c), Jos Buttler (wk), Ben Stokes, Moeen Ali, Chris Jordan, David Willey, Adil Rashid, Liam Plunkett.

New Zealand

Whilst hardly the most physically trying of events, New Zealand managed to rest a couple of players in their final Super 10s match. Martin Guptill will be restored in place of Henry Nicholls, whilst Adam Milne may return for Nathan McCullum if the pitch is looking less dry than it has so far this tournament. Chris Jordan was England’s stand-out bowler against Sri Lanka so opting for another pace option could appeal to Kane Williamson.

New Zealand Probable XI: Martin Guptill, Kane Williamson (c), Colin Munro, Ross Taylor, Corey Anderson, Grant Elliott, Luke Ronchi (wk), Mitchell Santner, Mitchell McClenaghan, Adam Milne/Nathan McCullum, Ish Sodhi.

Key Match-Ups

Joe Root v Kane Williamson

Two of the best batsmen in the world in every format, you should ignore the ICC rankings when it comes to this pair. Root has been brilliant of late, with a Ben Stokes-caused run out the only thing standing between Root and a perfect campaign thus far. Williamson meanwhile scored 63 off 39 against England in a warm-up match for this tournament and top-scored for New Zealand in their most recent fixture against Bangladesh. His technique and patience will be key on a pitch which should be on the slow side.

Adil Rashid v Mitchell Santner

Spin has dominated this tournament and there is no reason to think that will change here. Interestingly, Delhi didn’t turn when England played Sri Lanka. Rashid and Ali had combined figures of 4 overs 0/63. It was the first time Rashid has gone wicketless in his last 10 T20 matches. The turn Aaron Phangiso got against Sri Lanka however has us thinking Rashid won’t struggle here again. Santner, whilst not as good of a bowler as Rashid, has been exceptional this tournament. He’s taken 11 wickets in all, and took a further 2 in the warm-up match against England. Spinners will play a major role again here, with the unlikely event of dew the only concern.

Jos Buttler v Colin Munro

There probably isn’t a batsman in world cricket who throws the bat quite like Colin Munro. Almost undiscerning in a way, Munro will look to hit every ball for 6 regardless of the situation, the pitch or the bowler who opposes him. At first-drop, he has that license, especially if his openers get off to a good start. After a sublime 2015, Munro’s form has somewhat deserted him of late. His 35(33) against Bangladesh showed maturity and class, but aside form that his most recent scores have been 4, 7, 23 and 7 – a total of 41 runs off 46 balls.

Buttler had a good tour of South Africa, whilst his 66 off 37 against Sri Lanka has seen him re-discover that form at the right end of this tournament. With Morgan struggling – more so in the 50-over format – Buttler could find himself coming in at 4 in this match. Whilst a more adaptable player than Munro, both have the ability to transform scores of 130 into 170 with ease. In Delhi, patience is most definitely a virtue, so which hard-hitting batsman can adapt the better?

Notable Statistics

Nine of the past 10 IPL matches played at this venue have been won by the side batting second.

  • Whilst the numbers from this tournament go against that trend, dew can play a major role here if it sets in. Given we haven’t seen much this tournament, we feel the above statistics can’t be followed blindly. Given Sri Lanka’s struggles we’re not willing to read into South Africa’s Super 10s chase with too much significance.

New Zealand have had a significantly tougher road to the WT20 semi-finals – and have gotten there undefeated.

  • Australia, India and Pakistan or West Indies, Sri Lanka and South Africa – New Zealand have clearly had superior preparation for this match despite having never played on this pitch.

New Zealand have 5 bowlers in the WT20 top 20 for bowling economy rate.

  • England have just 1 bowler in the top 50 for eocnomy rate (Liam Plunkett).

England v New Zealand Preview and Final Prediction

This match has the potential to be far closer than most pundits expect, but the conditions should favour New Zealand and have them rightfully installed as favourites. The balance between bat and ball is crucial even in T20, and New Zealand have mastered that far better than their colonial founders.

For England, this game rests on the bat. Can Joe Root and company manage to undo whatever damage New Zealand’s batsmen are able to do? The answer is yes against most attacks, but New Zealand have shown an adaptability to Indian conditions which will be difficult to beat.

Top England Batsman: Joe Root

Top New Zealand Batsman: Kane Williamson

Top England Bowler: Adil Rashid

Top New Zealand Bowler: Mitchell McClenaghan

Match Prediction: New Zealand to win by 5 wickets or 10-15 runs.

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On twitter @rombarbera. Australian sports by day, international sports by night. Co-founder of Blindside Sport. Fantasy sport addict.

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