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5 talking points: England vs New Zealand

July 03, 2019 00:21 IST

The business end of the World Cup has arrived.

Defending champions Australia were the first team to secure their semi-final spot last weekend, India could join them on Tuesday and then all eyes will turn to Durham.

Hosts England lock horns with New Zealand at the Riverside with both sides knowing that victory would secure their passage.

So here are five major talking points ahead of the biggest game of the tournament so far.

KNOCK-OUT PERMUTATIONS

IMAGE: For England, defeat would be a hammer blow but not necessary terminal. Photograph: Clive Mason/Getty Images

For the winner of Wednesday’s clash -- the equation is simple. Victory will guarantee a top-four finish and a semi-final spot.

 

For the loser however, the picture is a little more complicated but in short, their top-four ambitions would not be over.

Should the Black Caps lose, their superior net run rate puts them in a strong position to still make the final four.

It would take a heavy defeat to hosts England and a massive Pakistan win over Bangladesh for the run rate deficit to be overturned.

For England, defeat would be a hammer blow but not necessary terminal. They could still progress if Bangladesh, who lost to India on Tuesday, do them a favour by beating Pakistan.

In the unlikely event of a tie or a washout -- the forecast is set fair -- New Zealand would progress with England also in pole position to join them on net run rate.

DURHAM DELIGHT

Ben Stokes

IMAGE: Ben Stokes -- coincidentally born in New Zealand but a Durham lad through and through -- will be itching to continue his fine all-round. Photograph: David Rogers/Getty Images

England love it in Durham, they are unbeaten in ODIs here in a four-match run that stretches back to 2014.

On top of that, they have a number of home-grown stars desperate to put on a show in front of friends and family.

The in-form Ben Stokes -- coincidentally born in New Zealand but a Durham lad through and through -- will be itching to continue his fine all-round efforts this tournament while his best mate Mark Wood knows the Riverside like the back of his hand.

Throw in Liam Plunkett who used to call Chester-le-Street home and has been a key cog in the middler overs, and England will be hoping home comforts bring about a vital win.

But New Zealand have their own spies in the camp, Ross Taylor and Tom Latham have both had spells playing county cricket in the north east and will be keen to prove a point on their returns.

BRITTLE BATTING

Kane Williamson

IMAGE: Captain Kane Williamson has been brilliant all tournament for the Black Caps. Photograph: Alex Davidson/Getty Images

Kane Williamson loves it in England. He averages just shy of 75 on these shores in ODIs and has been brilliant all tournament for the Black Caps.

But the batting line-up as a whole needs to offer their skipper more support – as Ross Taylor was quick to point out on Tuesday.

The Black Caps have yet to post a total north of 300 in this World Cup – with Taylor and Martin Guptill both still searching for their best form.

England meanwhile have the most century makers in this tournament with five – only Ben Stokes out of their top six has failed to reach three figures and he has four fifties and counting.

They have racked up 300 plus scores on five occasions already, but their brilliance when chasing that carried them to No.1 in the world has come undone of late.

The toss in Durham would appear to be vital, if England bat first and go big once more and it will take a monumental effort from the Black Caps to claim victory.

QUICK AS A FLASH

Trent Boult

IMAGE: Trent Boult produced a remarkable hat-trick at Lord’s against Australia. Photograph: Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

So good have New Zealand’s fast bowlers been this tournament that the great Tim Southee -- England’s tormentor in chief four years ago in their Wellington whipping -- has not been used once.

Trent Boult and Lockie Ferguson have terrorised top order batsmen, Boult producing a remarkable hat-trick at Lord’s against Australia while Ferguson regularly breaks 90mph with the old ball and the new.

Taylor confirmed on Tuesday he tries to avoid Ferguson in the nets where possible and the speedster’s match-up with England’s own Exocets in Jofra Archer and Mark Wood will make for fascinating viewing.

Spin has not borne much fruit on this ground in the previous two World Cup clashes, so expect a fast firestorm when battle commences on Wednesday.

CLASSIC CLASHES

England and New Zealand’s recent cricketing history should set up a fascinating fixture on Wednesday.

Brendon McCullum’s bulldozing Black Caps -- who came so close to winning it all four years ago -- actually provided the inspiration for England to be reborn thereafter under Eoin Morgan.

England’s skipper confirmed that the Southee-inspired thrashing in Wellington was a humiliating rock bottom from which the only way was up.

Since then England have been involved in some bona fide classics against the Kiwis – who have continued their own impressive standing in the one-day game under McCullum’s successor Williamson.

On this very ground back in 2015, Jonny Bairstow announced his arrival on the ODI scene with a match-winning effort to give England a 3-2 ODI series win.

The result was the same last year, this time Down Under, as England emerged on top in a five-match series but few will forget Taylor’s superb 181 on one leg in Dunedin.

But in World Cups it has been a different story, England haven’t downed their old rivals on the big stage since 1983. How they would love to put a stop to that on Wednesday.

(International Cricket Council)

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