New Zealand, the best team in the tournament, will lock horns tomorrow with England in Delhi as the final berth of World T20 2016 is at stake. So far New Zealand have played outstanding cricket in India at a slow and tired wicket. Their captain Kane Williamson mesmerized everyone with his captaincy in the very first match deploying three spinners of different styles against India. People were surprised, but when India came to bat Indian fans was hallucinated by Mitchell Santner, Ish Sodhi and Nathan McCullum. Two key fast bowlers Tim Southee and Trent Boult were benched. It needs a lot of courage to come up with an innovative idea.
Before the tournament start, New Zealand was rated the weakest team by the critics in the group B among the Asian big boys India and Pakistan and trans-Tasman country Australia. But, They have taken everybody by surprise as New Zealand made India bend their knee as the host tumbled for 79 runs while chasing 127. Meanwhile, Australia, the under-prepared team of the tournament, lost their life to Black Cap spinners, while Pakistan lost the match by 22 runs and Bangladesh’s spine shivers in front of whirling New Zealand spinners at the Eden Gardens.
Mitchell Santner and Ish Sodhi are now leading the tournament bowling chart with nine and eight wickets respectively among the semifinalist team.
New Zealand will get the second opportunity to qualify for the semifinal after 2007 World T20. They are now favourite and have apparatus in their arsenal. However, England, the champion of 2010 edition, will pose a good challenge to New Zealand. England after suffering the defeat to West Indies in the first match chased down 230 against South Africa and went on to defeat Afghanistan and Sri Lanka respectively. But, New Zealand probably have the edge at Feroz Shah Kotla’s spin friendly pitch as England were exposed by Sri Lankan spinners and Adil Rashid and Moeen Ali were battered by Angelo Mathews in the last match.
Weakness: The middle order has been in patchy form as they have been finding difficulty in playing spinners. They struggled against India, Australia and Bangladesh. New Zealand themselves have problems against spinners. England leg-spinner Adil Rashid and off break bowler Moeen Ali will try to come back with a good performance in the semifinal. Meanwhile, Colin Munro has shown some firepower but has not lasted long in an innings. None of the New Zealand batsmen are in the top 10 of the highest scorer of this tournament. Only Martin Guptill stands at the 11th position with 125 runs.
Besides this, they have the bad record of choking in an important match.
Strength: The Black Caps have hardly any flaw. They are one of the best players of fast bowlers and have acrobatic fielders. Martin Guptill has been in terrific form while captain Kane Williamson loves to play an anchor’s role. Colin Munro is another New Zealand batsman who loves hitting. The middle order has depth but needs to tick the box at a crucial time to score daunting total batting first. But, in the last three-match, New Zealand did not chase any. So if they have to chase then they will be tested by England seamers and spinners. However, Kane Williamson, the captain and opener of the New Zealand batsman love challenging situations. Corey Anderson and Ross Taylor are good players of spin and have experience of Indian pitches. So, they will bring an edge in New Zealand camp. At the same time, New Zealand have two quality spinners-Mitchell Santner and Ish Sodhi who will make New Zealand the favourite in the first semifinal.
Predicted XI: It is expected that Adam Milne would be back in the playing XI replacing Nathan McCullum. The rest of the team will look like this:
Martin Guptill, Kane Williamson, Colin Munro, Ross Taylor, Corey Anderson, Grant Elliot, Luke Ronchi, Mitchell Santner, Mitchell McClenaghan, Adam Milne, Ish Sodhi
Head to head: New Zealand, the erstwhile colony of England, have played 12 matches against their tormentors in T20Is and has lost eight matches and won four. But in the World T20, both teams have won two matches each in four meetings.
Pitch conditions: Most likely the pitch will support spinners and slow bowlers. But, those who bowl fast can get assistance if they swing it. Batsmen will have a tough time if they can’t adjust themselves to the conditions.
Weather: It will be a sunny weather in Delhi. The mercury will notch up to 36 degrees celsius. But in the evening, the temperatures will fall, and a gentle breeze will flow so spinners will have an advantage.
Where to watch: Star Sports, Hotstar
Time: 7 pm