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Do or die for England at Cardiff

New Zealand seeks turnaround with the bat, while England looks to shore up the bowling after Sri Lanka defeat

Do or die for England at Cardiff - Cricket News
James Anderson and Alastair Cook talk tactics during the England Nets Session.
Going into its final Group A fixture of the ICC Champions Trophy 2013 against New Zealand at the Cardiff Wales Stadium on Sunday (June 16), England finds itself in a situation it is reasonably familiar with. Following the seven-wicket defeat at the hands of Sri Lanka in a high-scoring encounter at the Oval on June 13, England – with two points from as many games – is one loss away from exiting their own party.  

That it is up against New Zealand, who got the better of England 2-1 in a three-match One-Day International series which ended just a couple of days before the Champions Trophy began, isn’t something England will particularly relish. With Martin Guptill at the top of his game, New Zealand cruised to victory in the first two matches; England will have to come up with plans to counter Guptill just as it will have to pull up its bowling socks, given the ease with which Kumar Sangakkara masterminded a stiff chase of 294 in the previous game as Sri Lanka cantered home with 17 deliveries to spare.  

England’s bowling completely fell apart against Sri Lanka, the yorker in particular conspicuous by its absence as James Anderson, Stuart Broad and Tim Bresnan appeared completely helpless against Sangakkara, Mahela Jayawardene and, chasteningly, Nuwan Kulasekara who, promoted to No. 5, smashed an unbeaten 58 off just 38 deliveries. A repeat display will usher England, who needs nothing less than victory, out of the competition and secure New Zealand’s berth in the semifinal.  

There are some question marks over the availability of Jonathan Trott, the No. 3 who has been one of England’s more consistent batsmen in the competition. Trott, who made 43 in the 48-run win over Australia and followed it up with an innings-high 76 against Sri Lanka, didn’t field for much of Sri Lanka’s chase with a tight right quad. England will most likely give Trott as much time as possible in a bid to get fit because despite criticism of slow scoring, Trott is a vital cog in the top order with his ability to control the innings.  

New Zealand, who leads the group with three points from two matches, hasn’t quite been on top of its game in this competition, yet finds itself a win away from living up to its status as a team that repeatedly punches above its weight in major competitions. Beaten finalists in the last Champions Trophy in South Africa, New Zealand was extremely fortunate to squeeze past Sri Lanka by one wicket in a nervy, stumbling chase of 139 for victory, and had its back to the wall when it was bailed out by the rains in its second game against Australia which ended with points shared.  

While the bowlers have done their jobs efficiently all tournament long, the batting has gone off the boil somewhat after the heroics in the ODI series against England. Luke Ronchi’s form at the top of the order is a particular cause for concern, though it is debatable if New Zealand will make a switch in a game with so much at stake. This isn’t necessarily a must-win game for New Zealand – they can still go through on net run-rate but that will mean its fate will no longer be in its hands and it will be left praying for a narrow Australian win over Sri Lanka in the final league match of the competition on June 17, a prospect that is unlikely to appeal to Brendon McCullum or his boys.  

New Zealand will have to counter not only with a fired-up England side staring elimination in the face but also a boisterous crowd. In the past, the team has shown that it has the temperamental wherewithal to handle extraneous pressures. If it can silence the crowd, that would have been half the battle won.  

The tournament has been badly hit by the weather in the last few days but the forecast for Sunday is quite encouraging, with no more than a 10% chance of precipitation predicted during the course of the game. Both teams will welcome that development, because they would rather the game was won and lost on the park.  

Teams (from):  

England: Alastair Cook (capt), Ian Bell, Jonathan Trott, Joe Root, Eoin Morgan, Jos Buttler (wk), Ravi Bopara, Stuart Broad, Tim Bresnan, Graeme Swann, James Anderson, James Tredwell, Jonny Bairstow, Steven Finn, Chris Woakes.  

New Zealand: Martin Guptill, Luke Ronchi (wk), Kane Williamson, Ross Taylor, James Franklin, Brendon McCullum (capt), Grant Elliott, Daniel Vettori, Nathan McCullum, Kyle Mills, Mitchell McClenaghan, Tim Southee, Doug Bracewell, Colin Munro, Ian Butler.

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