Three teams’ fate hangs in balance as England face New Zealand

Three teams’ fate hangs in balance as England face New Zealand

Riding high on confidence after registering a thumping winover India, pre-tournament favourites England will look to confirm theirsemifinal berth in the ongoing World Cup when they take on New Zealand in theirlast group stage game at Riverside Cricket Ground on Wednesday.

If England lose in Chester-le-Street, Pakistan couldleapfrog them to enter the knockout stage with victory over Bangladesh. On theother hand, in the event of New Zealand losing on Wednesday, either of theSouth Asian teams — Bangladesh and Pakistan — can draw level with the BlackCaps and fancy their chances of making it to the knockouts.

England, who had to face a lot of criticism from allquarters after facing back-to-back defeats against Sri Lanka and Australia,came out with their A-game against India in Birmingham to keep their semifinalshope alive.

Openers Jonny Bairstow and Jason Roy gave them a perfectstart as they exposed the Indian bowlers, especially the spinners, and posted amammoth 338-run target for the Men in Blue which they failed to chase down atEdgbaston. Also, with Ben Stokes having a great run in the ongoing tournament,the Three Lions will back themselves to once again put up another formidablebatting display against the Black Caps.

Their bowling was also bolstered by the inclusion of LiamPlunkett who picked up three crucial wickets against India and dented thebackbone of the famed Indian batting line-up. It is highly unlikely they willmake any change to their playing XI, given all their players are fit and raringto go.

New Zealand, who are one point above England and are sittingin third place, have suffered back-to-back setbacks against Pakistan andAustralia.

The Kane Williamson-led side have been ordinary in theirbatting in the last two games and they would desperately hope to improve onthat front and make a solid comeback into the tournament. Williamson needsMartin Guptill to fire, much like he did in the 2015 edition, where he hademerged as the leading run-scorer of the tournament.

An attack led by left-arm quick Trent Boult, who took ahat-trick hero against Australia, and featuring the express pace of LockieFerguson is a testing proposition for any side and they would like to stop theattacking English batting line-up from bludgeoning.

In Durham, apart from the New Zealand fans, Pakistani fanscan also be expected to be present in big numbers to cheer for the Black Capsbecause their win could pave way for the Green Brigade to enter the semifinals.

Squads:

England: Eoin Morgan (captain), Moeen Ali, Jofra Archer,Jonny Bairstow (wk), Jos Buttler (wk), Tom Curran, Liam Dawson, Liam Plunkett,Adil Rashid, Joe Root, Jason Roy, Ben Stokes, James Vince, Chris Woakes, MarkWood.

New Zealand: Kane Williamson (captain), Tom Blundell (wk),Trent Boult, Colin de Grandhomme, Lockie Ferguson, Martin Guptill, Matt Henry,Tom Latham (wk), Colin Munro, Jimmy Neesham, Henry Nicholls, Mitchell Santner,Ish Sodhi, Tim Southee, Ross Taylor.

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