The first semi-final of the 2021 T20 World Cup pits England and New Zealand, who will renew their rivalry two years after they played out *that* epic in the final of the 50-over World Cup.
We are reaching the business end of the 2021 ICC T20 World Cup and four teams still remain in the hunt for the trophy. Wednesday’s first semi-final sees heavy favourites England go up against New Zealand. And we could be in for a cracking contest between two of the world’s most well rounded T20I teams.
England breezed through the Super 12s stage of the T20 World Cup, earning dominant wins over the likes of Australia and the West Indies in the process. But they were handed a warning sign by South Africa in their final group stage game. The defending 50-over World Cup champions also saw Jason Roy suffer an injury in that game that will see him miss the rest of the tournament. James Vince is a more than capable replacement, but Roy’s absence could be a huge blow for what looked like a very settled England outfit.
There is no denying that England have been the world’s best team in white ball cricket over the last five years, and their results speak for themselves. Eoin Morgan has done an incredible job as captain, and his charges will fancy their chances of going all the way and winning their second ever T20 World Cup this week.
But standing in their way will be the calm and collected New Zealand, who have a completely different playing style to the swashbuckling and attack-minded England team. The Kane Williamson-led Kiwis lost to Pakistan in their Super 12s opener. But they stunned India before getting the job done against Afghanistan, Scotland and Namibia to qualify for the semi-finals. They displayed great composure with the bat in each of those wins, which could give them the edge over England especially if in the event of a low scoring game. They also have a very experienced and settled line-up, which features one of the most balanced bowling attacks in the sport.
Players to Watch
With Jason Roy sidelined due to injury, it will be interesting to see who opens the innings with Jos Buttler. Jonny Bairstow has had a very lean tournament with the bat so far, but he appears the likeliest of bets. He can be one of the world’s most devastating batters when on his game, and a new position in the order could be just what he needs to get his tournament going. Bairstow is also a confident player of spin, and will be better suited to handle the test match lengths that Tim Southee and Trent Boult may look to hit England with.
Although Jonny Bairstow has had a relatively bad tournament with the bat he has performed well in big matches in the past and England will be looking for him to step up in the Semi-Finals
England Expected Playing XIs
Jos Buttler (wk), Jonny Bairstow, Moeen Ali, Dawid Malan, Sam Billings, Liam Livingstone, Eoin Morgan (c), Chris Woakes, Chris Jordan, Adil Rashid, Mark Wood
New Zealand Expected Playing XIs
Martin Guptill, Daryl Mitchell, Kane Williamson (c), Devon Conway (wk), Glenn Phillips, Jimmy Neesham, Mitchell Santner, Tim Southee, Trent Boult, Adam Milne, Ish Sodhi