World Cup

A battle of equals at the Kotla

When this edition of the World T20 began, not many would have backed New Zealand and England to clash for a place in the final.



Better balanced teams like Australia and South Africa, consisting of some of the most accomplished performers in the shortest format of the game, have returned home. This only goes to prove that, sometimes, a resilient bunch is better than a reputed one.



Creditably, New Zealand and England have covered the distance in impressive ways. The Kiwis, the only unbeaten side so far, are ready for an upbeat England which has won its last three games.



On form, New Zealand begins as the obvious favourite, having won four matches – all batting first – at four different venues. England, softened up by the West Indies in the opener, made its presence felt by chasing down 229 against South Africa and never looked back.



New Zealand, powered mainly by the pyrotechnics of opener Martin Guptill, has not scored big in most of its matches while playing on pitches assisting spin. England’s batting has come good in three games, while its bowlers underlined their presence in the last two matches at the Kotla.



Therefore, in a limited sense, England is playing a ‘home’ game, knowing the conditions much better than New Zealand. Ben Stokes, the Christchurch-born all-rounder who bowled an excellent final over in England’s 10-run victory over Sri Lanka, summed up England’s approach.



“We’re not going into this game thinking we’ve won it already, because we know New Zealand are the form team and they’re hard to beat, especially in this format at the moment. It’s going to be tough to get out into the middle and try and perform our skills against the form side. But, if we can perform anything like we have done over the last two games, we should do well.”



New Zealand’s tactics of trying out 13 players and resting pacemen Trent Boult and Tim Southee have worked well, with spinners Mitchell Santner and Ish Sodhi turning out to be the surprise weapons. It will be interesting to see how the Kiwi duo performs against a line-up that has stroke-makers like Jason Roy, Alex Hales, Joe Root and Jos Buttler, not to forget skipper Eoin Morgan.



On the other hand, the England bowlers seem to be getting better with every match. However, the Kiwis bat deep, though several of their explosive batsmen are yet to come good in this competition. Against Pakistan, after Guptill set the pace, the lower-order batsmen did their job reasonably well as the team crossed the 150-run mark for the first time.



It will be a good contest between the New Zealand batsmen and the England bowlers, should the former bat first for the fifth straight time.



It will also be interesting if England bats first and sets a target, taking New Zealand out of its comfort zone of putting runs on the board and defending them. Though chasing is not such a bad option on the Kotla pitch, it is

likely that, given a choice, New Zealand will take first strike.



Overall, a battle of equals with form pointing to New Zealand and familiarity England.



The teams (from):

New Zealand: Kane Williamson (capt.), Martin Guptill, Colin Munro, Ross Taylor, Corey Anderson, Grant Elliott, Luke Ronchi (wk), Mitchell Santner, Ish Sodhi, Mitchell McClenaghan, Nathan McCullum, Trent Boult, Tim Southee, Henry Nicholls, and Adam Milne.



England: Eoin Morgan (capt.), Alex Hales, Jason Roy, Joe Root, Eoin Morgan, Jos Buttler (wk), Moeen Ali, Adil Rashid, Chris Jordan, David Willey, Liam Plunkett, James Vince, Reece Topley, Liam Dawson, and Sam Billings.


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Printable version | Sep 16, 2021 4:29:29 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/cricket/world-cup/a-battle-of-equals-at-the-kotla/article8410464.ece

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