Can England halt the unbeaten Kiwis in the first semi- final?
The only team in the tournament that has remained unbeaten, the under rated New Zealand, will start as the favourites when they meet a rejuvenated Eoin Morgan’s England in the first World Twenty20 semi-final . The Australians were the only team to cause them some trouble before going down by eight runs. The New Zealand batting looks strong on paper but has not lived up to the potential yet except in the match against Pakistan where they scored 180/5 on a difficult wicket against some of the best fast bowlers. But their bowling has been impressive.
Left-arm spinner Mitchell Santner and leg-break bowler Inderbir Singh Sodhi have excelled in Indian conditions with individual hauls of nine and eight wickets respectively.
Left-arm fast bowler Mitchell McLenaghan (four wickets) and all-rounder Grant Elliott (three wickets) have also done well. Off-spinner Nathan McCullum has played two out of the four matches, bagging three wickets at an average of 4.20.
What is even more interesting is that the Kiwis are yet to utilise the services of two of their frontline fast bowlers: Trent Boult and Tim Southee. If the Kiwis decide to unleash the pace duo on Wednesday, they can prove to be dangerous on the Kotla wicket which has been helpful to seamers.
The strength of the New Zealand bowling can be gauged from the fact that they bundled out sub-continent teams India and Bangladesh for 79 and 70 runs respectively and have bowled out the opposition in three out of the four matches. The England batsmen may expect a tough challenge on the difficult pitch at the Ferozshah Kotla.
England had a poor start as they ran into an in-form Chris Gayle in destructive mood and went down to the West Indies by six wickets in their opening match. But they recovered and went on to record three back to back wins.
Their victory over South Africa, chasing down a mammoth 229, was the most impressive.
England have three talented left-handers in their batting line-up in Ben Stokes, Eoin Morgan and Moeen Ali. Joe Root is in superb form while Alex Hales and Jos Buttler also have plenty of T20 experience. England are also more familiar with the conditions, having already played two matches at the Kotla.
Their main problem has been their inconsistency. Their batting ran into trouble against minnows Afghanistan, collapsing to 85/7 at one stage before being rescued by Moeen Ali.
England pacers David Willey, Chris Jordan and Stokes conceeded plenty of runs against the West Indies and South Africa and will look to plug the gaps against the Kiwis.
Eoin Morgan’s charges will be less under pressure compared to the Kiwis, who are expected to make the final owing to their form. Moreover, New Zealand are yet to win a world level tournament in both the 50-over and 20-over formats.
England have won the World Twenty20 in 2010, giving them more experience in high pressure situations. (IANS)