Durham: In a crucial ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 encounter, hosts England cricket team and 2015 runners-up New Zealand cricket team head into their final World Cup group match to confirm a spot in the semi-finals as they face off at The Riverside Durham today.
Even a defeat would not spell the end of either team’s chances of emerging as one of the top four from the 10-team round-robin phase. Were England to lose in Chester-le-Street, Pakistan could leapfrog them into the top four with victory over Bangladesh.
Given that they play each other in their final pool match, only one of Bangladesh who also still have to face India or Pakistan can draw level with New Zealand in the event the Black Caps lose on Wednesday.
And, with both Asian teams well behind on net run-rate, it would take a big New Zealand loss allied to a commanding Pakistan victory or two Bangladesh wins by big margins, to deny the 2015 losing finalists a place in the last four.
But right now, England and New Zealand’s World Cup destiny is in their own hands. England travel to the northeast buoyed by a 31-run win over an India side that were previously unbeaten.
Sunday’s success against India, the team that recently replaced England at the top of the one-day international rankings, came after back-to-back defeats by Sri Lanka and reigning champions Australia had led many pundits to question their tournament nerve and nous.
But the pleasing aspect for England, other than the result, was that the defeat of India was built on many of the factors that have been key to their ODI revival since a first-round exit at the 2015 World Cup.
Jonny Bairstow (111) and Jason Roy, who made 66 following his return from a hamstring injury, put on 160 for the first wicket before the in-form Ben Stokes hit 79, his third successive fifty, to boost the total to 337-7.
England, bidding to win their first World Cup, then kept things tight in the field, with Chris Woakes impressive and recalled paceman Liam Plunkett (3-55) once again taking wickets through the middle overs.
By contrast, New Zealand head into the match following successive losses to Pakistan and Australia that have put a taken the gloss off a promising campaign.
An attack led by left-arm quick Trent Boult, who took a hat-trick hero against Australia, and featuring the express pace of Lockie Ferguson is a testing proposition for any side.
New Zealand could now recall another paceman in Matt Henry at the expense of spinner Ish Sodhi, given the Riverside is not renowned for turning pitches.
But while several England batsmen have made hundreds at the World Cup, New Zealand appear dangerously over-reliant on captain Kane Williamson and fellow senior batsman Ross Taylor for runs.
Colin Munro was dropped for the Australia game, while fellow opener Martin Guptill has managed just 85 runs from six innings since his 73 not out against Sri Lanka. Wicketkeeper-batsman Tom Latham is averaging just 8.2 at this tournament.
England vs New Zealand head-to-head in World Cup
Total matches: 8, Won by New Zealand: 5, Won by England: 3
England vs New Zealand playing 11 prediction
England playing 11: Eoin Morgan, Jason Roy, Jonny Bairstow, Joe Root, Ben Stokes, Jos Buttler, Chris Woakes, Adil Rashid, Liam Plunkett, Jofra Archer and Mark Wood.
New Zealand playing 11: Henry Nicholls, Martin Guptill, Kane Williamson, Ross Taylor, Tom Latham, Colin de Grandhomme, Jimmy Neesham, Mitchell Santner, Ish Sodhi, Lockie Ferguson, Trent Boult
Time: 3:00 pm IST