#WT20 England v NZ – preview

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Kane Williamson and his Kiwi team mates have not put a foot wrong since landing in India, winning all four group matches without really breaking a sweat to qualify for the semi-finals as the tournament's only unbeaten team.

For a side boasting an explosive batting order and a balanced attack to go with, England's passage proved bumpier.

Even before they could soak in the atmosphere, England were blown away by a Chris Gayle century in their tournament opener against West Indies in Mumbai.

Joe Root sparked their recovery in the 230-run chase against South Africa but the narrow victory against Afghanistan's modest resources exposed their frailties against spin bowling.

They looked a significantly better side, however, in Saturday's 10-run win against champions Sri Lanka.

Jos Buttler underlined his limited overs worth with a belligerent fifty, the pacemen made regular inroads, Ben Stokes delivered a tidy final over and the team held their nerve to secure a victory that seemed to tick most of the boxes.

“In these tight tournaments you can't get through to the semis unless you are playing good cricket, and that's what we set out to do to give ourselves a chance,” coach Trevor Bayliss said.

“But it's about peaking at the right time. I wouldn't say we've played the perfect game yet - coaches are always looking for that absolutely perfect game, I don't think it's ever been played - but it's what any team is striving to do.”

Having played their last two games at Kotla, England would also hope to cash in on their familiarity with the venue in contrast to their opponents who were on a mini-tour of India playing each of their four group games at different venues.

The trouble for England, however, is that New Zealand won all of them as the team, finalists in last year's 50-over World Cup, strive to shed the tag of being cricket's perennial bridesmaid.

Leading from the front, Williamson has also displayed the tactical flexibility needed to win a tournament like this.

New Zealand sprang a surprise in their tournament opener, picking three spinners in a gutsy gamble and went on to beat India, renowned for their batsmen's comfort against the turning ball, in their own game.

Williamson repeated the ploy against Bangladesh in their final group match for a similar result, his immaculate pitch assessment in stark contrast to most of the visiting captains who struggled to read the track as if it was in Braille.

Left-arm spinner Mitchell Santner and leg-spinner Ish Sodhi have already forged a formidable partnership for the Kiwis, claiming 17 wickets between them in four matches.

And if Williamson has noticed England's struggle against Afghanistan's slow bowlers, the Kiwi captain will be tempted to harness Nathan McCullum's control and accuracy in a three-pronged spin attack.

As demonstrated by Martin Guptill, the Kiwi batting does not lack firepower but what was more heart-warming for the fans is how batsmen like Colin Munro have tempered strokes according to situations.

“It hasn't been the wham, bam... sort of way that T20 cricket has been,” batting coach Craig McMillan said after the victory against Bangladesh in their last group match.

“They have had to assess it... and have done a really good job of putting the runs on the board to give the bowlers something to work with.”

Following is a factbox on the first World Twenty20 semi-final between England and New Zealand to be played at the Feroz Shah Kotla Stadium on Wednesday:

World T20 head to head:

 

Played: 4; England won: 2; New Zealand won: 2

 

England

 

World ranking: Five

 

Squad: Eoin Morgan (captain), Moeen Ali, Sam Billings, Jos Buttler, Liam Dawson, Alex Hales, Chris Jordan, Liam Plunkett, Adil Rashid, Joe Root, Jason Ray, Ben Stokes, Reece Topley, James vince, David Willey

 

Coach: Trevor Bayliss

 

Best overall performance: Champions (2010)

 

Road to semi-final:

 

* Lost to West Indies by six wickets

 

* Beat South Africa by two wickets

 

* Beat Afghanistan by 15 runs

 

* Beat Sri Lanka by 10 runs

 

Top scorer: Root (168 runs)

 

Top wicket-taker: Willey (six wickets)

 

New Zealand

 

World ranking: Two

 

Squad: Kane Williamson (captain), Corey Anderson, Trent Boult, Martin Guptill, Grant Elliot, Colin Munroe, Mitchell McClenaghan, Nathan McCullum, Adam Milne, Henry Nicholls, Luke Ronchi, Mitchell Santner, Ish Sodhi, Tim Southee, Ross Taylor

 

Coach: Mike Hesson

 

Best overall performance: Semi-finals (2007)

 

Road to semi-final:

 

* Beat India by 47 runs

 

* Beat Australia by eight runs

 

* Beat Pakistan by 22 runs

 

* Beat Bangladesh by 75 runs

 

Top scorer: Guptill (125 runs) – Reuters)

Original source: #WT20 England v NZ - preview

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