Three teams on three points, only one could go through, that’s how Group 1 has been set up. In so many years of the T20 World Cup, it is perhaps the first time where the competition for spots is this close. It just goes on to show the quality of cricket on display here in Australia.
But truth to be told, it isn’t just cricket that has made this group extremely dicey, it has a big hand from the rain god, who hasn’t really blessed teams in this group. Having said, both the teams wouldn’t want to talk about the uncontrollables. The equation really is simple, New Zealand are all but through into the semi-final. England need to win.
England have the fate in their own hands. And so, does Australia and even Ireland. Well, we did tell you right, this group is filled with such tricks. If you are one of those ardent story-line fans, England were thrown out of last year’s competition by New Zealand in the semi-final. It very well could be a repeat here.
Plenty of match-winners in New Zealand
You know what they say about New Zealand, they don’t have one match-winner but have an entire team of match-winners. They are right, aren’t they? Barring Kane Williamson, everyone has stepped up at the right time for the BlackCaps. At 15/3 against Sri Lanka, New Zealand had another hero step up – Glenn Phillips – who absolutely took the Asian side to the water, with a 64-ball 104, including smashing four sixes.
Phillips will yet again be in focus. Why? England don’t have an orthodox spinner, which is the only type of bowling against which he has a strike-rate of under 140, and that’s outrageous. Against every other bowling type, the right-hander strikes at 144 and above, showing how he is a threatening piece of this Kiwi puzzle.
Trent Boult, who wasn’t amongst the wickets in the clash against Australia, picked up three early ones before his fourth one put a dagger in Sri Lanka’s hearts. Mitchell Santner has been pretty impressive and add the fact that England are his favourite opponents, it makes New Zealand firmly favourites to win this clash.
Against England, Santner has picked up 16 wickets, with a strike-rate of just 12.1, showing how he could be a vital piece. New Zealand really have a bowling unit that could challenge the struggling English batting lineup. That could be where the match could be decided.
Overreliance on Mark Wood
2022 has been Mark Wood’s best year in T20Is, with the X-factor pacer picking up 14 wickets, at an average of 9.6, and an economy rate of 6.8. He is a vital cog of this English setup, and whenever he has struggled, the Three Lions have also had a dip in their bowling display. Australia provide Wood with the perfect conditions to show his natural self.
In Australian conditions, the speedster averages just 13, with nine wickets in just four innings. The other night too against Ireland, the onus was heavily on Wood to provide wickets in the middle-orders. And barring the Paul Stirling wicket, the speedster had a tough time.
Wood might be only England’s second-best bowler in the tournament, with five wickets but you remove the right-arm pacer and then you realise how one-dimensional does England get. With New Zealand have a very good batting depth, Wood’s spell very well could be the difference between a win and a loss for the Three Lions.
England’s strange batting pattern
England have possibly the best top-three in the tournament, who have the innate ability to cause destruction. Possibly is there only because they have failed to live up to the hype thus far in the tournament. In their two games, England have the second worst batting numbers in the competition, with a run-rate of 6.7, scoring a boundary only every 13.1 deliveries.
The Three Lions’ strike only at 106.9 in the powerplay, unlike the England of the yesteryears. There are concerns over Alex Hales, Jos Buttler and Dawid Malan but more than all of that, what is Ben Stokes’ role in this setup?
“Yeah, of course. I guess the one person that you want in your team when the pressure is on is Ben Stokes. We all know what he's capable of, and not just match-winning innings, but match-winning innings under serious amounts of pressure,” England’s assistant coach, Paul Collingwood backed Stokes to the tilt.
But in reality, in 2022, Stokes averages just 10.25 with the bat, and strikes at sub-par 97.6. His numbers in Australia as well, across six innings aren’t the most eye-pleasing numbers. In this year’s tournament, he has scored eight runs across two innings. So, there is an issue and it would be worth noticing how England deal with that.
New Zealand have found their perfect XI in this competition, and barring any injuries, they will not tinker with a winning combination. The return of Daryl Mitchell has further strengthened the BlackCaps to make them firm favourites at the moment to lift the trophy.
New Zealand XI: Finn Allen, Devon Conway (wk), Kane Williamson (c), Glenn Phillips, Daryl Mitchell, James Neesham, Mitchell Santner, Tim Southee, Ish Sodhi, Lockie Ferguson, Trent Boult
You can’t say the same about England. They have match-winners but none of them have really fired all cylinders thus far. Having said that, the Three Lions might consider making a change, with the inclusion of David Willey possibly for Chris Woakes.
England XI: Jos Buttler (c/wk), Alex Hales, Dawid Malan, Ben Stokes, Liam Livingstone, Harry Brook, Moeen Ali, Sam Curran, Chris Woakes/David Willey, Adil Rashid, Mark Wood