Written by Jason Dewey for @Hollywoodbets. Follow them both on Twitter and Facebook now!
England vs New Zealand | Wednesday 30 March | Delhi | 16:00
The first semi-final of the 2016 World T20 will pit two of the more unlikely contenders against one another. Eoin Morgan’s England will go head to head with Kane Williamson’s New Zealand in what should be an absolute humdinger of a match.
Can New Zealand continue their unbeaten run in this year’s competition and make it to their second consecutive ICC final or will an unpredictable England side repeat their heroics of 2010 where Kevin Pietersen and co won the tournament in the West Indies?
To Win Match
New Zealand 8/10 | Draw 35/1 | England 1/1
The Black Caps have now underlined their credentials as one of the best limited overs sides in the world. Having reached the final of the 50 over World Cup last year, the New Zealanders have marched into the semi-finals of the 2016 World T20 as if they mean to go on.
What’s impressed me most with this New Zealand unit is the bravery they’ve shown in terms of team selection. Many would have thought that Trent Boult and Tim Southee – far and away New Zealand’s best bowlers over the last few years – would have been automatic starters heading into this tournament. However, the Black Caps have persisted with the likes of Mitchell Santner and Ish Sodhi, recognising that a spin-heavy attack would be needed to advance to the latter stages of the competition.
The two have been absolutely phenomenal in the competition. Santner has claimed nine wickets in four matches while Sodhi has bagged eight in the same amount of games. They showed their class in the opening game of the tournament as they, along with Nathan McCullum, successfully defended 126 against an Indian team that were widely expected to walk over everyone in their group. They followed that win up with resounding displays against Australia, Pakistan and Bangladesh – winning all three games convincingly after strangling the top and middle order with some world-class bowling.
While their bowling has been magnificent, their performances with bat in hand have left a bit to be desired, which is surprising especially considering all of the pre-tournament hype surrounding guys like Martin Guptill, Kane Williamson, Corey Anderson and Colin Munro. That can, and in all likelihood will change on Thursday in Delhi.
The two decks at the Feroz Shah Kotla have produced 843 runs in just three games. While it's not the batsman's paradise that Mumbai has proven to be, it still looks as though it has runs in it and I have no doubt that Guptill and Williamson will tee off against an English bowling attack who have struggled to keep the scoring down throughout the tournament. If they can get off to a good start and put the English bowlers under pressure by taking full advantage of the power play fielding restrictions, I reckon they stand an excellent chance of claiming a spot in the final.
England have had a strange old tournament thus far. After losing their opening game to the West Indies, they went on to beat South Africa, Afghanistan and Sri Lanka to book their place in the semi-finals of the World T20.
While their opponent’s strength has been their bowling over the last few weeks, England have looked toward their top and a middle order to win them games following some tame displays with ball in hand. Jason Roy and Alex hales are probably the most destructive opening pair in the tournament and have got the English off to excellent starts, most notably against South Africa where the two plundered 44 runs in the first two overs as England successfully chased down 229 with two balls to spare.
It’s not only the opening pair that New Zealand will need to lock down on Thursday evening. Joe Root, Jos Buttler and Eoin Morgan have all shown just what they can do with the bat this year. While Morgan has been consistent if not electrifying, Buttler and Root have both put in match-winning performances in India. The most notable of these being Root’s 44-ball 83 against South Africa and Buttler’s 66 against Sri Lanka.
Where England have struggled, and where I think they will continue to battle has been in the bowling department. Adil Rashid has struggled to recreate the form that saw his decimate batsmen in the KFC Big Bash, only claiming four wickets in as many games. Moeen Ali has also struggled to come to terms with conditions, conceding 121 runs the 12 overs he’s bowled in the tournament. Their seamers haven’t fared much better, with none of David Willey, Chris Jordan or Reece Topley able to return tournament economy rates below 8 to the over.
If England are going to win this game, they will need their bowlers to stand up and be counted. The seamers have offered far too much width throughout the tournament while their spinners have failed to create apply any sort of pressure on opposition batsmen. If they fail to keep Guptill and Williamson quiet, they could well be on a hiding to nothing.
Verdict: A Hundred to be Scored in the Match: Yes at 13/2
While this is a bit of a long shot, I do think it is entirely possible that we could see a century scored on a Delhi surface that has so far proven an absolute dream to bat on. It’s not the biggest ground in the world either, so even mistimed shots can clear the fence with relative ease. There is excellent value at 13/2, don’t put the rent money on it, but it’s definitely worth a tickle.
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