England take on New Zealand in their T20 World Cup semi-final on Wednesday.
Eoin Morgan believes leading England to the final of the tournament despite the absence of several key figures would represent one of his greatest achievements as captain.
Ben Stokes, Jofra Archer and Sam Curran were all unavailable ahead of the tournament while Tymal Mills and now Jason Roy have gone down during the campaign with a right thigh strain and torn left calf respectively.
Morgan was keeping his cards close to his chest about who would come in for Roy ahead of their semi-final against New Zealand but thinks victory in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday would be a significant moment for the team.
“You might only get to the final and lose but getting to the final would be a hell of an achievement,” Morgan said.
Here, we look at the head-to-head statistics and where the game will be won and lost.
England have a 12-7 head-to-head lead over New Zealand in the shortest format, with one tie and one no-result – but recent meetings have been evenly matched.
That tie came in the deciding fifth match of their most recent series in November 2019, with England winning in a super over to take the series 3-2 – just four months after a more memorable six-ball decider, in the final of the 50-over World Cup at Lord’s.
New Zealand won the first T20 meeting in September 2007 but England won the next six, through to the first of a three-match series in February 2013.
Since then there have been six wins each, plus a two-ball washout at the Oval in June 2013 and that one tie, leaving virtually nothing to separate the sides in recent years.
Who’s got the power?
England have two of the five highest powerplay totals in this tournament, 66 without loss in the rout of Australia and 59, for the wicket of Jos Buttler while Jason Roy retired hurt, in the defeat to South Africa.
Only India, whose 82 when chasing a net run rate boost against Scotland is a significant outlier, and Australia against Bangladesh and Sri Lanka have otherwise reached those heights.
England also made 50 for one from the first six overs against Bangladesh, with sub-standard efforts of 39 for three against the West Indies – albeit while chasing just 56 – and 36 for three against Sri Lanka.
New Zealand’s best is 52 for two against Scotland, with their consistent powerplay totals otherwise coming in between 42 and 45 runs. They have kept all opponents bar Scotland (48) down to a run a ball or less through six overs, while England have not conceded more than 40 in that stretch of an innings.
Men in form
England’s Jos Buttler has been the standout batter of the tournament, striking the only century to date against Sri Lanka while a brutal unbeaten 71 against Australia helps him to an average of 120. He trails only Pakistan’s Babar Azam in total runs, 264 to 240.
The absent Roy is England’s only other batter to make over 100 cumulative runs in the tournament, with Eoin Morgan and Dawid Malan having respectable averages but pedestrian strike rates while Liam Livingstone, in just two innings, and Jonny Bairstow have scored quickly.
Moeen Ali could be England’s key man – he has a high strike rate, though admittedly with 37 of his 41 runs coming in one innings against South Africa, and trails only Adil Rashid with seven wickets for England. Bowling almost exclusively in the powerplay, Moeen averages 11 with an economy rate of 5.50.
For the Black Caps, Trent Boult has 11 wickets at 10.45 and Tim Southee seven at 16.29, with both seamers giving up less than six runs an over.
With the bat, Martin Guptill’s strike rate of 131.34 is key to a fast start while Jimmy Neesham and Glenn Phillips have been important in the middle order. They have scored quickly, with Neesham’s strike rate at 148.39, and average over 40 – as does captain Kane Williamson, but with a strike rate below a run a ball.
Roy has been replaced in England’s squad by James Vince but his opening void could be filled by Bairstow or Malan.
Bairstow has the experience – 15 T20 internationals as an opener, averaging 25.07 with a strike rate of 137.22 compared to 27.62 and 136.92 in the middle order – and impressed at the top in this year’s Indian Premier League.
Malan’s average is lower but his strike rate improves in his five innings as a T20I opener, while Vince has filled the role three times and averaged 34.67 but scores quicker in the middle order.
Moeen or Livingstone could also step up, but the former is more effective against spin bowling with the latter being groomed as a finisher.