Win or Bust for England in T20 Clashes with New Zealand
England is heading towards the last-chance saloon, as defeat to Australia for the second time in a week leaves their Trans-Tasman Tri-Series hopes hanging by a thread.
For the second time, Australia completely outsmarted England with both ball and bat. Early wickets set Jos Buttler’s men on the back foot and they eventually stuttered to 137 for 7 from their 20 overs. It never looked anywhere near enough at the MCG, and so it proved as Australia chased down their target with over five overs to spare.
The win puts Australia into the final, meaning England and New Zealand will battle it out in their two games on Tuesday and Saturday to join them.
England may have to go into their two clashes with New Zealand without skipper Eoin Morgan, who missed the second match with Australia on account of a groin problem that is threatening to sideline him for the remainder of the series.
With or without Morgan, England’s aggressive gameplan will remain the same. They were unable to execute it against Australia’s impressive new-ball pairing of Kane Richardson and Billy Stanlake; it will be just as tough against a New Zealand side that boasts Tim Southee and Trent Boult.
Boult and Southee are as good an opening pair as any in world cricket, and they will look to expose any frayed confidence in England’s top order. 188BET have Boult as the marginal favourite to be New Zealand’s leading wicket-taker, with the 28-year-old chalked up at 3.55 – with Southee just behind at 3.70.
In terms of the win market, it’s a toss-up as 188BET cannot split the sides – both are priced at 1.89.
With England a little low on confidence after a pair of chastening defeats to Australia, a strong case can be made to back New Zealand.
The Black Caps’ T20 record at the Westpac Stadium in Wellington used to be a little shaky, but they have won three in a row dating back to 2014 and look well equipped to flourish in the shortest format of the game.
New Zealand has gun bowlers to call on in the shape of Boult and Southee, while Mitchell Santner is a canny spin bowler who looks good under pressure.
England’s much vaunted batting order commands a lot of headlines, but New Zealand is not to be underestimated in that department. In Kane Williamson, they have one of the world’s best in any form of the game, while Martin Guptill and Colin de Grandhomme are extremely dangerous and capable of taking a game from the opposition in a short space of time.
Not being faced with the green and gold of Australia will come as a relief to England, but they cannot afford to underestimate a New Zealand side who has plenty of weapons to fire.