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New Zealand vs England - Semi Final, World Cup 2021

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Moeen's role, NZ's batting strategy and Sodhi's England match-up

A look at where the semi-final between England and New Zealand could be won or lost



How England can stave off Boult-Southee challenge


The 2016 World T20 semi-final. The 2019 ODI World Cup final. And now, the 2021 T20 World Cup semi-final. That's three knockout matches in the last three World Cups. New Zealand have failed to win on the two previous occasions against England: can they get across the line this time around against the favourites? This is where the game could be won or lost.

Where should Moeen bat?

England's middle order has been largely untested in this competition. Only three batters have faced more than 60 balls and one of them, Jason Roy, is now injured. New Zealand have a well-rounded attack with all bowlers capable of bowling across all phases. Moeen Ali is the man in form and has been playing in these conditions for a while now.


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Recently, Moeen Ali has been the world's most destructive batter vs spin ESPNcricinfo Ltd


With Roy not around, would it make sense for England to use Moeen at the fall of the first wicket to capitalise upon the powerplay or would England want to use Moeen the spin smasher to target Ish Sodhi and Mitchell Santner in the middle? Moeen at three - where he batted against South Africa - could upset New Zealand's rhythm by ensuring they bowl pace to him and that could delay the overs bowled by spin.

Dawid Malan is a slow starter and does not match up well against spin. In a knockout game, will England bank on Malan or the experience of Moeen who delivered just a month ago in an all-important IPL final wearing a Chennai Super Kings shirt?

Can New Zealand capitalise on England's death bowling

South Africa scored 49 runs in the last four overs the only time England were properly tested at the death. With Tymal Mills injured, England have lost their specialist in that phase. It remains to be seen whether Roy will be replaced by an extra bowler or not, but the options that England have at their disposal are not very exciting.


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England's pacers have not been tidy in the death overs ESPNcricinfo Ltd

All their pace options have gone for plenty in the death across the last four years in T20 cricket. Barring Chris Jordan, who goes at 9.65 an over, their other options have conceded more than ten runs per over. New Zealand will look to follow the template South Africa set: keeping wickets in hand and maximising the death rather than going hard first up, particularly with a relatively shallow batting lineup that sees Santner carded at No. 7.


Can New Zealand's swing bowlers win the powerplay?

England's batters have some outstanding numbers in the powerplay this tournament. Their scoring rate of 8.33 is the best in the tournament and they have the tournament's second-highest run-getter in Jos Buttler.


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England the better team in the powerplay overs? ESPNcricinfo Ltd

However, this will be England's first night match in Abu Dhabi. Of the three venues in the UAE for this tournament, Abu Dhabi has been most favourable for seamers in the powerplay. Seamers average just 17.38 (at 5.92 runs per over) here compared to averages of 25.17 and 31.33 in Dubai and Sharjah respectively.

If the combination of Trent Boult, Tim Southee and Adam Milne can extract seam, swing and bounce, then the England batters could face their toughest test in this tournament. Could 20 minutes of madness cost England the tournament? Only time will tell.

Can New Zealand find a way to attack England's fifth bowler?

If England replace Roy with a batter then how are they going to use their 'fifth' bowler? England's fifth bowler has been fantastic so far in the tournament: together Moeen and Liam Livingstone have picked up 11 wickets and have conceded less than six runs per over. With three right-handed batters in the top three for New Zealand, it would mean England may opt for the spin of Adil Rashid or the quicks early on.

Can New Zealand take the attack against Moeen and Livingstone, whenever they bowl? This will be vital if New Zealand are looking to put up a challenging score to defend or ease the pressure while chasing. Devon Conway, James Neesham and Santner are the left-handers in the middle order who may end up facing the fifth bowler the most, while Kane Williamson will need to show greater attacking intent than he has so far in order to take those spin overs down.

Other things to watch

Sodhi vs England

Sodhi has a very poor record against England, conceding 298 runs (with 20 sixes) at an economy of 11.03 runs per over. But these numbers mean very little: the majority of those games were played on grounds in New Zealand with much smaller dimensions than Abu Dhabi. On Wednesday, he gets a chance to bowl to England on the biggest ground of the tournament. That could work in his favour.

Morgan's form

Eoin Morgan enjoyed his career-best form in 2019 and 2020 but this year, he averages 17.59 and strikes at 118. Whichever metric you look at, he is struggling. England's middle order is hardly tested in the tournament and Morgan will want to ensure he can play an impactful innings in a pressure game. His performances in knockout matches across his career are underwhelming - though the sample size is small.
Additional inputs: Matt Roller
 

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Moeen Ali riding the confidence wave as England chase twin white-ball glory

Apart from bowling in the powerplay, Moeen's promotion to No. 3 against South Africa signals faith of his captain

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Moeen Ali was promoted to No. 3 to target the short boundary against South Africa

Moeen Ali has achieved just about everything he could hope for in an England shirt, but he may come to look back at this week as the most important of his international career.

Moeen has been a key contributor in sides that have won Test series against Australia and India, has scored eight international hundreds, taken five five-fors and a hat-trick, and was an ODI regular in the years leading into the 2019 World Cup win. But over the next six days, with the backdrop of English cricket's overdue introspection on matters of race, diversity and inclusion, the highest-profile British Asian player in the game could take centre stage in England's bid to hold both World Cup trophies simultaneously.

Media duties are a thankless task for players during major tournaments, not least in a biosecure environment when it is already hard to switch off from the game, and doubly so when the issues at hand are so serious. Moeen was asked at length after England's training session on Monday afternoon about the squad's discussion of Yorkshire's report into Azeem Rafiq's allegations, the diversity of the dressing room and his own experiences within the game, speaking openly and cogently on pressing issues.

The overriding impression over the last month has been that Moeen's confidence - a vital intangible for a player whose form has fluctuated more than the price of a cryptocurrency - has been restored, with the results borne out in his performances in this World Cup to date. He was England's tightest bowler in the Super 12s despite bowling the bulk of his overs in the powerplay, and was promoted to No. 3 to target the short boundary during their chase against South Africa on Saturday; it defies belief that he sat on the bench in ten consecutive T20Is between last November and this June.

It would be easy to attribute Moeen's self-belief to his retirement from Test cricket. The daunting prospect of a full winter on the road if he had been involved in this winter's Ashes has been replaced by two months back home with his young family before England's next white-ball engagement, a five-match T20I series in Barbados in January; so that is unlikely to have hurt his frame of mind in this World Cup.

But perhaps the more pertinent factor is that Moeen feels valued again, after spending far too long playing a bit-part role in England's T20 side. After he was left out of the second T20I against Sri Lanka this summer, he had played only 12 of their last 41 games in the format. In those rare appearances, he faced more than a dozen balls only twice and bowled an average of 10.7 balls per game.


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Moeen on his captain Eoin Morgan: "To be given that the new ball or just outside of the powerplay, it's always great" Alex Davidson/Getty Images

They have never lacked for talented allrounders but England's reluctance to use him stood in stark contrast to his value on the open market, evidenced by Chennai Super Kings' willingness to pay INR 7 crore (£690,000 approx.) for him in this year's IPL auction. Moeen said on Monday that his role as a senior player in their title-winning season had "helped massively", not only giving him renewed self-confidence but also in turn reminding England of his worth.

"The confidence is high and I just feel like a big part of the team," he said. "I've got very important roles and I'm really happy with my game and the way we're playing as a team. To be given that responsibility with the new ball or just outside of the powerplay, and then going up the order when Morgs [Eoin Morgan] gives me the nudge, it's always great.

"I just feel like I'm playing really well, and I think the captain sees that and he wants to use that as much as he can as well. [Chennai had] given me responsibility at No. 3, given me the confidence that you're going to play and have a big role with the team. I felt like I learnt so much about cricket and batting. I had some great chats with MS [Dhoni], the coach [Stephen Fleming], the players and Mike Hussey… I just felt like my game got better and better as I was going on."

The result is that Moeen has become a key player with both bat and ball, filling the void left by Ben Stokes and Sam Curran's absences - ironically, both related to injuries picked up playing in the IPL. He had explained earlier in the tournament that he has used to "try and sneak my way through" powerplay overs by "trying to bowl darts", but has come to see his role with the new ball as "an opportunity to take wickets".

With the bat, he came in at No. 3 - his preferred spot in domestic and franchise cricket - for the first time in six years against South Africa on Saturday night, after Jos Buttler sent a message back to the dugout saying that he was the man for the job. Sixes off Tabraiz Shamsi and Aiden Markram showcased his unparalleled ability to take down spinners, and with favourable match-ups against his former Worcestershire team-mates Mitchell Santner and Ish Sodhi ahead in Wednesday's semi-final, it is a role he could fill again.
 

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Williamson wary of England's depth despite Roy, Mills absence

Hails senior bowlers Trent Boult and Tim Southee for their adjustments in the UAE


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Trent Boult celebrates with his team-mates Alex Davidson

Both Trent Boult and Tim Southee didn't get a game in the 2016 T20 World Cup in India, with New Zealand packing their attack with spin and preferring the hit-the-deck style of Mitchell McClenaghan. Five years later, both Boult and Southee have played crucial roles in New Zealand's progress to the semi-finals from a group that included three Asian sides - Pakistan, India and Afghanistan.

Boult is currently the joint second-highest wicket-taker in the competition with 11 wickets in five matches at an economy rate of 5.84. Southee has got four fewer wickets than Boult, but his economy of 5.70 is the best among seamers who have bowled at least 20 overs in the tournament. Williamson hailed their contributions to an attack that is without the injured Lockie Ferguson.

"Yeah, they've been brilliant," Williamson said. "They've been involved with the team in all formats over a long period of time and really experienced operators for us and experience in terms of playing in all different conditions and executing their skills beautifully and performing their roles to the highest standard. They've been doing a fantastic job for us, really leading our attack who have been performing well and adjusting well to the different surfaces we've been on and a real strength in our side."

In the 2016 T20 World Cup semi-final in Delhi, Jason Roy belted 78 off 40 balls to knock New Zealand out. He has now been ruled out of the rest of England's ongoing campaign, as has been left-arm seamer Tymal Mills, but Williamson is still wary of England's incredible depth in white-ball cricket.

"They're both big players for England," Williamson said. "It's a real shame that they have suffered injuries in this competition. But I think one of the strengths as well of the England side is their depth that they've managed to produce over a period of time. And having spent some time at the Birmingham Phoenix and being sort of a little bit involved in that 100-ball comp, you can tell that there's a huge amount of talent throughout. They're still very much a very strong side who have been playing some really good cricket.



"Whenever there's an injury, there's someone else who comes in and you're not to know who they are until the toss. But you try to prepare and plan as best you can and then when you go out there, you're sort of competing in the moment. And that's kind of all that matters then. But Jason's a big player for England and has been playing really nicely and getting the team off to good starts along with Jos [Buttler]. But, as I mentioned, the depth on the England side is one of their strengths and we'll try and plan accordingly to the best of our ability. But largely [we] want to focus on the sort of cricket we want to play as a group and keep developing on that as we've been doing throughout this tournament."

Williamson's niggly elbow had prevented him from playing for Birmingham Phoenix at the inaugural Hundred, but he did spend some time there as the side's mentor. Having watched Liam Livingstone's brutal power-hitting from close quarters at the Phoenix, Williamson identified the batting allrounder as one of the threats but backed New Zealand to find a way.

Look, they've got match-winners throughout their team and that's been a big, I suppose, movement of their white-ball side," Williamson said. "Sort of power-packed and bat deep as well. I spent a little bit of time with Liam at the Birmingham Phoenix and he played superbly well throughout that 100-ball competition, so there are a number of threats and a number of match-winners. We also have a number of match-winners as well and at the end of the day it's about committing to what you do as a team and we both do it a little bit differently."
 

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England ponder extra bowler as Eoin Morgan weighs up Jason Roy replacement

Decision will be based on Abu Dhabi conditions as new opening combo prepares to step up

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    David Willey and Sam Billings (from left) could come into the reckoning as England seek final berth Associated Press


    England will make a late decision regarding the balance of their side for Wednesday's T20 World Cup semi-final against New Zealand based on conditions in Abu Dhabi, their captain Eoin Morgan has revealed.

    With Jason Roy ruled out of the tournament due to a calf tear sustained in Saturday's 10-run defeat against South Africa, England face a choice between maintaining their batting-heavy formation - which sees Liam Livingstone and Moeen Ali combining as the 'fifth' bowler to supplement three seamers and a frontline spinner in Adil Rashid - or bringing in a bowling allrounder to give themselves additional bowling cover.

    James Vince was added to the squad on Monday after spending the last three weeks in Dubai as a travelling reserve and is one of two spare batters, along with Sam Billings. Tom Curran and David Willey are the two spare bowling allrounders, while Reece Topley was brought into squad as an injury replacement for Tymal Mills ahead of the South Africa game.

    Morgan said that the decision as to who replaced Roy in the side would come down to conditions in Abu Dhabi, suggesting that they would lean towards an extra bowling option if they expect the pitch to be conducive to high-scoring, but would pick a batter if it looks like it will offer assistance for bowlers. It is understood that Wednesday's game will be played on Pitch 7 at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium, which was previously used for South Africa vs Bangladesh and Pakistan vs Namibia in Super 12s fixtures and offered good bounce for seamers on those occasions.

    "Replacing him [Roy] with another bowler would mean that you'd have 28 genuine overs on the field, and a lot of options," Morgan said at his pre-match press conference before England's optional training session at ICC Academy in Dubai. "If you were to go with a batter, it would mean a like-for-like replacement.

    "When we turn up and look at the wicket, depending if it's a really good batting wicket or predicting if going to be a really good wicket, you might need the extra bit of bowling, and if it's not, we might need an extra bit of batting."

    Morgan also confirmed that England had decided who would open the batting alongside Jos Buttler, suggesting that it is likely to be a player who has already been part of the side rather than a late entrant in Vince. Jonny Bairstow, an opener for England in ODI cricket and Sunrisers Hyderabad in the IPL, is the probable candidate, with Dawid Malan offering the main alternative, and Livingstone and Moeen representing more left-field options.

 

Meengla

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I want NZ to win the Cup if not Pakistan going to win the Cup. I don't think NZ have ever won any world Cup yet? But England is in too good form in this tournament. Look at how casually, and without much 'intent', they almost chased down South Africa's big score!
Besides, NZ would be easier to handle for Pakistan in the Final. ;)
So........ Best of luck Kiwis against England tomorrow!!!
 

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England (probable):

1 Jos Buttler (wk), 2 Jonny Bairstow, 3 Dawid Malan, 4 Eoin Morgan (capt), 5 Liam Livingstone, 6 Moeen Ali, 7 Sam Billings/David Willey, 8 Chris Woakes, 9 Chris Jordan, 10 Adil Rashid, 11 Mark Wood



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Jonny Bairstow is likely to be pushed up to open in the semi-final Alex Davidson/Getty Images



Kane Williamson's long-term elbow complaint remains a "bit of a challenge" for New Zealand's captain, but it's not going to derail him from the task at hand. New Zealand boast a settled XI that has grown into the campaign since that early loss to Pakistan. Adam Milne came in for Tim Seifert for their subsequent win over India, and they have since made it four in a row with no alterations.


New Zealand (probable):

1 Martin Guptill, 2 Daryl Mitchell, 3 Kane Williamson (capt), 4 Devon Conway (wk), 5 Glenn Phillips, 6 James Neesham, 7 Mitchell Santner, 8 Adam Milne, 9 Tim Southee, 10 Ish Sodhi, 11 Trent Boult.
 

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Teams are in. The toss is coming. New Zealand win toss and bowl. "Good surface, bit of dew later," Williamson says. "Today's a great occasion, looking forward to getting involved. England are always strong, depth is one of their strengths. We must focus on the cricket we want to play."

Eoin Morgan says he'd have done the same, "hopefully it doesn't decide the game". On Roy, "devastating to come so close to the latter stages of the tournament, but an opportunity presents itself for Sam." Bairstow to open as expected. "NZ are an extremely strong side, not newcomers to finals and semi-finals, they've been doing it a lot longer than we have."

England
1 Jos Buttler (wk), 2 Jonny Bairstow, 3 Dawid Malan, 4 Eoin Morgan (capt), 5 Liam Livingstone, 6 Moeen Ali, 7 Sam Billings, 8 Chris Woakes, 9 Chris Jordan, 10 Adil Rashid, 11 Mark Wood

New Zealand
1 Martin Guptill, 2 Daryl Mitchell, 3 Kane Williamson (capt), 4 Devon Conway (wk), 5 Glenn Phillips, 6 James Neesham, 7 Mitchell Santner, 8 Adam Milne, 9 Tim Southee, 10 Ish Sodhi, 11 Trent Boult.
 

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England batting first

So anything below 180 is risky
England batting first

So anything below 180 is risky
 

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