England’s attempts to beat New Zealand and reach the final of the 2021 T20 Men’s World Cup will hinge on how well skipper Eoin Morgan replaces injured stars. Morgan’s team prepares to face the Black Caps in Wednesday’s semi-final missing a few key names, chief among them, Jason Roy.
It’s a different story for skipper Kane Williamson and the Kiwis, who will arrive at the Sheikh Zayed Cricket Stadium in Abu Dhabi with a full contingent. In particular, Williamson can rely on pace bowlers Trent Boult and Tim Southee to dent the depleted England top order.
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England vs New Zealand Preview
Roy’s calf injury has disrupted a dynamic opening partnership with Jos Buttler. The latter has been in electrifying form, amassing 240 runs, the second-most in the tournament. What Buttler needs is the right partner to withstand the speed Boult and Southee will use to attack the wicket early.
Fortunately for Morgan, there’s no shortage of options to replace Roy. One of the best is Dawid Malan, whose form hasn’t been great, but he can still be prolific in this format. Malan is a heavy hitter, but so is Liam Livingstone, who combines power with technique better than most.
If Morgan plays it safe, he’ll likely turn to Jonny Bairstow. He’s used to taking to the crease early, so Bairtow makes the most sense to be one of Morgan’s openers with a place in the final at stake.
Whoever gets the nod will need to cope with Boult. The lefty has helped himself to 11 wickets and a stingy economy rate of 5.84. Boult was at his deadly best during the eight-wicket victory over Afghanistan that put the Kiwis in the last four:
While Boult has starred, Southee has been no mere supporting act. The 32-year-old took a pair of wickets against Afghanistan after doing the same against Namibia. Southee will give those with the bat chances for some strikes to the boundary, but his boom or bust approach also yields big rewards for the Black Caps.
England vs New Zealand T20 World Cup Semifinal in US
New Zealand’s attack is in fine form, but their efforts to keep pace with England’s batters will rest on the right arm of opener Martin Guptill. He’s responsible for the third highest-scoring innings at the tournament, a stunning 93 against Scotland. Guptill will need to be in the same form against England because the rest of the New Zealand order is neither deep nor strong enough to set a total Morgan will fear.
England’s confidence about containing Williamson and Co. is also connected to the performances of bowlers like Moeen Ali and Chris Woakes. Ali’s economy rate of 5.50 is solid, and the off-spinner will be an important weapon on a sluggish wicket. So will Woakes, whose seam deliveries force the men in front of the wicket into choices they don’t want to make. Woakes has taken five wickets, but it’s another spin specialist, Adil Rashid, who leads the squad with eight.
England possess the quality to overwhelm New Zealand’s order, but that won’t stop Morgan from worrying about the players he’s missing. Roy and pace bowler Tymal Mills, who injured his quad, have joined a list that already included Jofra Archer, Ben Stokes and Sam Curran, all of whom withdrew before the competition.
Morgan told the Guardian‘s Simon Burnton reaching the final would be a salute to his squad’s strength in depth:
Making it this far has only underlined the embarrassment of riches at England’s disposal. The Black Caps are experienced and resourceful enough to spring an upset, but Morgan’s replacements should have enough to still reach Sunday’s final and await either Pakistan or Australia.