Defending T20 World Cup champions England will face the eternal dark horses - New Zealand - in the Super Eight stage. The Kiwis' first game in the second round of the T20 World Cup 2012 ended in a heart-breaking defeat (in a one-over eliminator) against hosts Sri Lanka. England, meanwhile, went down to West Indies by 15 runs in their first game, despite the best efforts of Alex Hales and Eoin Morgan.
England v New Zealand
England stand on the brink of elimination from the T20 World Cup unless they can beat New Zealand and record their first win since beating Associate side Afghanistan.
The defending champions have been poor with both bat and ball in the last two games - defeats to India and the West Indies - allowing both sides to post totals of 170+ as a winning target. That kind of score, in this format of the game, is always a challenge and the English openers have not helped their team's cause by failing miserably so far this tournament, with an opening partnership of two runs (against India) the best return Craig Kieswetter and Alex Hales have produced.
The fact both Hales and Kieswetter have scored runs in recent games makes their failure at the top even more of a mystery. Kieswetter top-scored against India with a wonderful 35 off 25 balls (Hales was out for a duck) and the situation reversed itself in the next game, against the West Indies, with Kieswetter being dismissed for a duck and Hales smashing 68 off 51. Perhaps the solution is to push Morgan up the order to open with Hales? The two put on 107 against the West Indies to lead the team to within 15 runs of a win.
Opening issues aside, the rest of the English batting has been equally frustrating. Kieswetter, Jos Buttler (11) and Jade Dernbach (12) were the only players to get scores in double figures against India in an abysmal display. They made some amends against the West Indies but consistency at the top has cost Broad very dearly. Luke Wright, for example, was sensational against Afghanistan (99 not out) and managed only six runs in two innings since then. Jonny Bairstow, Morgan and Buttler also need to stand up be counted, if England wish to remain in the tournament.
With the ball, the English have been, if possible, worse. Again, the match against Afghanistan notwithstanding (and even then, to allow lower order Gulbodin Naib to smash 44 off 32 to take his side from 26/8 to 80 all out was inexcusable), Steven Finn, Dernbach, Broad and Graeme Swann have been poor. T20 really only needs one or two good wicket-taking bowlers, as India demonstrated against England... eight overs can seriously damage any potential batting effort, if wickets fall in that time. Finn has been fairly economical, conceding only 59 from his eight overs but has only three wickets to show for that effort. Dernbach has been very expensive, with 83 from his eight overs and even less to show than Finn - two wickets. Broad would have liked to lead from the front and did that against West Indies, with 2/26 from four overs but he needs support and has not received that so far, with Swann proving ineffective - 2/49 from eight overs.
New Zealand will come into this game in much better form and with more confidence. The Kiwis were also beaten in their first Super Eight game... yes... but only in a one-over eliminator. They have played three of the four teams from the subcontinent - sides you'd expect to have a degree of home advantage and better knowledge of the conditions - and have beaten Bangladesh and pushed Pakistan and Sri Lanka all the way.
Furthermore, unlike England, however, the Kiwi top order is in good form. Rob Nicol, in particular, seems in good touch, with scores of 33 (off 28) and 58 (off 40) in his last two games and the opening stands in those games have both been over 50 (53 against Pakistan and 57 against Sri Lanka; Nicol was involved in both). And then there is the ever-dangerous Brendon McCullum, who is the leading run scorer in T20 Internationals and the only man to have two centuries in this form of the game; the second was against Bangladesh in the first group game.
However, if there is one concern captain Ross Taylor is likely to have with the batting is that the middle order has not really come good. True... they haven't had much time out in the centre... but Jacob Oram (6), Nathan McCullum (3) and James Franklin (8) all had their chances against Sri Lanka and failed.
In terms of bowling, New Zealand will have similar concerns as England. Again, if we disregard the game against Bangladesh, the games against Pakistan and Sri Lanka saw the Kiwis concede 170 runs+. Tim Southee, Kyle Mills, Daniel Vettori and Nathan McCullum have been expensive and sporadically effective.
Expect this to be a high-scoring game, with the likes of Morgan and Brendon McCullum dominating the headlines.
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