India may not be a part of the World Cup anymore but there are still semi-finals to be played out. Not just any semi-finals either but a pair of clashes among the teams that played the best cricket.
First up is a repeat of the 2019 World Cup final, with Eoin Morgan’s side, winners of Group 1, facing New Zealand, the team that finished as runners-up in Group 2.
England had built themselves up as arguably the scariest team in the competition and are still the bookies’ favourites to win it all but their CV did suffer a bit of damage in the last game when they were defeated by South Africa, albeit by a small margin.
The surprising thing in that game was the uncharacteristically ordinary bowling by the England pacers, whose combined 12 overs went for a whopping 136 runs and offset the decent job done by the miserly Moeen Ali and Adil Rashid.
New Zealand started their campaign with a defeat to Pakistan but have since bounced back nicely, stringing together a run of four straight wins, even if the last three of those wins have been against much smaller sides.
They have a history in this fixture as it was England that captured 50-over World Cup glory at their expense and under a cloud of controversy two years ago.
New Zealand coach Gary Stead has this week said that his team won’t be haunted by what happened in 2019 but it’s hard to believe that that loss won’t be somewhere in the back of the Kiwis’ minds.
“I haven’t heard anything spoken about it [2019 World Cup final here] here,” Stead is quoted as saying by ESPN. “I think the guys are looking forward to the prospect of facing England again. As I said, they’re a quality side and yes, we just look forward to the challenge of playing the best side as well. So, I’m not sure there will be anything from the 2019 game that will come into it…maybe a Super Over it might.”
New Zealand’s most impressive performer thus far in this World Cup has been Trent Boult, who has 11 wickets in just five games.