Eoin Morgan’s England have been hit by injuries but enter Thursday’s (1:00 AEDT) T20 World Cup semi-final as favorites against New Zealand, two years after both sides clashed in a barely credible 50-over final.
England have lost opening batsman Jason Roy and pace bowler Tymal Mills, but they secured a final four place with four wins in five Super 12 matches.
Roy collapsed on the pitch with a calf injury in England’s last group match, which they lost to South Africa and were later ruled out of the tournament and replaced by James Vince.
England host New Zealand in the ICC T20 World Cup semi-finals on Thursday (01.00 AEDT) at Kayo. New to Kayo? Start your free trial today.
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England’s aggressive cricket brand got them past the Caribbean, Bangladesh, Australia and Sri Lanka with clinical ease to finish as group leaders ahead of the Aussies.
But the Kiwis are no pushovers and who is better than England to appreciate the Black Caps’ worth after they needed a superover to equalize Kane Williamson’s side when the 2019 ODI World Cup final ended in a draw.
That day at Lord’s, a throw from the outfield hit Ben Stokes’ bat in the final over as he slipped to make his fold. The ball flew off his bat to the boundary to give England four extra runs, on top of the two already running.
They went on to equalize New Zealand’s total in regulation, and again in a Super Over, before England were crowned world champions in a strange force by a border countback.
While the decisive measure was criticized at the time – it has since been removed by the ICC – it would not have come to it without the freak limit Stokes was granted.
Former India player and commentator Aakash Chopra called the incident “Bat Of God” at the time The Guardian’s Jonathan Liew described England’s victory as “truly one of the most astonishing things I have ever seen.”
Former national team player Ian Smith, who commented on the match, said: “I do not believe what I have just seen.
“Never ever changed his line and he never looked at the ball, he had no idea.”
He later added: “Of course there were some big sixes hit through the tournament, but it is not ironic that the most crucial six in the entire World Cup went all the way along the ground.”
‘KICK IT HAPPENS DESPERT’
Meanwhile, former English captain Mike Atherton this week remembered the moment in a column for The times, writes: “If England and New Zealand deliver a fraction of the drama they made on a brilliant afternoon at Lord’s in July 2019, then the T20 World Cup may get the spark it desperately longs for this week.”
New Zealand matched England’s 241 thanks to Stokes’ unbeaten 84 and then their 15 in the Super Over. Stokes were caught in the 49th over, but Trent Boult stepped on the rope.
England have reached the final of the T20 World Cup without the departure of star players Stokes and Jofra Archer and Roy increasing their problems ahead of Wednesday’s match in Abu Dhabi.
Jos Buttler hit the tournament’s only century in his undefeated 101 against Sri Lanka and remains the second-best rungeter behind Pakistan’s captain Babar Azam (264) with 240 runs.
Chris Woakes leads the pace in bowling, complemented by Chris Jordan, while spinners Adil Rashid and Moeen Ali have proven their worth with eight and seven wickets respectively.
New Zealand have been the longtime underdogs in top events, but finishing second in the ODI World Cup and becoming world champions in tests after beating India in the final has proven their consistency across formats.
Pace bowlers Trent Boult and Tim Southee have shared 18 wickets between them to plague opposition teams with their early strikes.
After losing their opener against Pakistan, Williamson’s New Zealand have worked like a well-oiled machine and hammered India in their second match to gain momentum in their favor.
They then stroked Scotland, Namibia and Afghanistan aside to march into the semi-finals, but Boult recognizes his opponents as a well-balanced side.
“Full of match winners. Very well-balanced team playing very good white ball cricket at the moment. Let’s hope we can create a great uprising, “said Boult, a quick left-winger.
“There has been a good story between the two sides in white ball cricket. I’m sure there are people who see this with great interest.”
Boult has a strike rate of 10.7 in this tournament and believes that early wickets against an English top order in form will be the key to success.
“We know the magic recipe that early wickets put pressure on opponents,” he said.
“Days days it does not happen, days it does, but if we could go out there and disrupt a very powerful English top order, then I think we will succeed. But it will certainly not be easy.”