19 February 2015
New Zealand v England Preview, Match 9, Wellington
After a tough opener against Australia, England now has to contend with title favourite New Zealand at home
England's batting line-up is strong on paper, but recent form has been a concern.
These first two matches are England's toughest in the league stages, but this also presents it an opportunity to gain early momentum in a long tournament. However, the team has to lift its game in all departments. Against Australia, England's fielders dropped two crucial catches, conceded 342 runs – including 105 in the last ten overs – and its batsmen were shot out in less than 42 overs.
England's batting line-up is strong on paper, but recent form has been a concern. The batsmen have been bowled out 12 times in the last 18 matches and average only 58.80 in the final 10 overs. Eoin Morgan, the captain, too is short of runs. Ian Bell and Joe Root have shown glimpses of ability, but they need to be more consistent against a balanced New Zealand attack. The middle order will take confidence from James Taylor's unbeaten 98 against Australia.
"The guys are really disappointed. There is a sense of frustration,” admitted Morgan ahead of the match. “The big games that we play, these first two games in particular, are great practice for the later stages in the tour. If we can get wins under our belt against good opposition, it can breed confidence for later in the tour.”
All the England bowlers conceded more than six runs an over in Melbourne, but the four-pronged pace attack will hope for more swing in New Zealand. If that happens, James Anderson and Stuart Broad could pose a serious threat. Steve Finn is high on confidence after a five-wicket haul, including a hat-trick, in the first match and lends balance to the attack.
New Zealand, on the other hand, is the team to beat. It started its campaign with a big victory over Sri Lanka, and although Scotland stretched it, Brendon McCullum's side crossed the line. Another victory could set it up nicely for the rest of the league stage.
New Zealand had the busiest of starts in the tournament – the match against England will be its third in a week – but McCullum insisted there would be no changes to the side.
The batting line-up runs deep and all of them have shown terrific form in recent times. The side lost seven wickets in a chase of 143 against Scotland, but McCullum brushed off the batting failure saying it was a case of trying to chase quickly.
"England have a good bowling attack. They have a bit of pace and they get some bounce with Broad and Anderson," said McCullum. "They're going to post some different challenges to what we've probably faced in the last little while, but it's a challenge the boys are looking forward to. The wicket at Wellington has a few runs in it, so hopefully we can adapt."
New Zealand’s bowling attack is built around the pace trio of Tim Southee, Trent Boult and Adam Milne, while Daniel Vettori dons the spinner’s role to perfection.
Form and home advantage favour New Zealand. That could, however, count for little if England can play to potential.
New Zealand (likely): Brendon McCullum (capt), Trent Boult, Grant Elliott, Martin Guptill, Adam Milne, Daniel Vettori, Kane Williamson, Corey Anderson, Tim Southee, Luke Ronchi (wk), Ross Taylor.
England (from): Eoin Morgan (capt), Moeen Ali, James Anderson, Gary Ballance, Ian Bell, Ravi Bopara, Stuart Broad, Jos Buttler (wk), Steven Finn, Alex Hales, Chris Jordan, Joe Root, James Taylor, James Tredwell, Chris Woakes.
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