England rediscovered their Mojo against India at Edgbaston on Sunday and they will qualify for the semi-finals of the ICC Cricket World Cup if they beat New Zealand at Chester-le-Street on Wednesday.
Skipper Eoin Morgan won a very good toss against Virat Kohli’s side and the hosts rode their luck early in their innings, but they took it to the much-vaunted Indian spinners in the middle overs and Jason Roy’s return galvanised his opening partner Jonny Bairstow who scored a high-class maiden World Cup century.
New Zealand had made serene progress to the quarter-finals up to their defeat to Pakistan, and they again had their limitations, seemingly, exposed by their Trans-Tasman rivals Australia at a sun-drenched Lords on Saturday.
The Black Caps have 11 points in the table – one more than England – but are not yet guaranteed a place in the last four although they have a superior net run rate to both Pakistan and Bangladesh who can also, at the time of writing, reach 11 points.
Sri Lanka were bowled out for 200 by South Africa in the first World Cup game played at Durham last week, but South Africa lost only Quinton de Kock in reaching the target. At the time of writing Sri Lanka are playing West Indies in a “dead rubber” on the ground and both captains said at the toss they wanted to bowl first although Jason Holder’s decision appeared to have backfired as Sri Lanka were 62 without loss at the end of the 12th over.
Mark Wood and Ben Stokes will be playing on their “home ground” midweek and the latter has been brilliant with bat in hand in recent games. That outstanding performance against India will count for nothing, however, if England cannot beat New Zealand and the Black Caps’ batting looks fragile at the moment with too much being asked of skipper Kane Williamson.
England are 4/9 at BetVictor to take the points and are back into 5/2 to win their first World Cup at Lords on Sunday week – the same day as the Men’s Singles Final at Wimbledon and the British Grand Prix from Silverstone. New Zealand are 15/8 with BetVictor to bounce back against England and 7/1 to win their first World Cup.
England struggled against the left arm quick bowling of Mitchell Starc and Jason Behrendorff against Australia and the “Bash Brothers” will have to be wary of the threat caused by Trent Boult. The Black Caps played a couple of recognised spinners against Australia at the weekend – although it was part-timer Williamson who bowled most overs – but I expect Matt Henry to return against England.
England played almost the perfect game against India on Sunday, but it is a question of one down and three to go. What a difference the World Cup and its importance has made. During the recent ODI Series with Pakistan Eoin Morgan was asked why he wanted to field when he won the toss – he just shrugged his shoulders and said that was our Modus Operandi. We fancy our chances of chasing anything our opponents make.
Six weeks later and England have struggled when batting second so far in the tournament and I don’t think that will be lost on Williamson. If New Zealand win the toss and post anything around the 300 mark, then it would be game on. Almost everything from the toss onwards went England’s way at Edgbaston against India. That is not likely to be the case against the Black Cats and there will be periods when they will have to dig deep with both bat and ball.
Kane Williamson was once again top scorer for the Black Cats against Australia and the suggestion is you have to be a very good player to get big runs against this England attack. Only Williamson and Ross Taylor fit that criteria at present for the Black Caps with Martin Guptill strangely out of sorts.
Charlie’s recommendations England v New Zealand: