Chester-le-Street : Riding high on confidence after registering a thumping win over India, pre-tournament favourites England will look to confirm their semifinal berth in the ongoing World Cup when they take on New Zealand in their last group stage game at Riverside Cricket Ground on Wednesday.
If England lose in Chester-le-Street, Pakistan could leapfrog them to enter the knockout stage with victory over Bangladesh. On the other hand, in the event of New Zealand losing on Wednesday, either of the South Asian teams — Bangladesh and Pakistan — can draw level with the Black Caps and fancy their chances of making it to the knockouts.
England, who had to face a lot of criticism from all quarters after facing back-to-back defeats against Sri Lanka and Australia, came out with their A-game against India in Birmingham to keep their semifinals hope alive.
Openers Jonny Bairstow and Jason Roy gave them a perfect start as they exposed the Indian bowlers, especially the spinners, and posted a mammoth 338-run target for the Men in Blue which they failed to chase down at Edgbaston. Also, with Ben Stokes having a great run in the ongoing tournament, the Three Lions will back themselves to once again put up another formidable batting display against the Black Caps.
Their bowling was also bolstered by the inclusion of Liam Plunkett who picked up three crucial wickets against India and dented the backbone of the famed Indian batting line-up. It is highly unlikely they will make any change to their playing XI, given all their players are fit and raring to go.
New Zealand, who are one point above England and are sitting in third place, have suffered back-to-back setbacks against Pakistan and Australia.
The Kane Williamson-led side have been ordinary in their batting in the last two games and they would desperately hope to improve on that front and make a solid comeback into the tournament. Williamson needs Martin Guptill to fire, much like he did in the 2015 edition, where he had emerged as the leading run-scorer of the tournament.
An attack led by left-arm quick Trent Boult, who took a hat-trick hero against Australia, and featuring the express pace of Lockie Ferguson is a testing proposition for any side and they would like to stop the attacking English batting line-up from bludgeoning.
In Durham, apart from the New Zealand fans, Pakistani fans can also be expected to be present in big numbers to cheer for the Black Caps because their win could pave way for the Green Brigade to enter the semifinals.
England: Eoin Morgan (captain), Moeen Ali, Jofra Archer, Jonny Bairstow (wk), Jos Buttler (wk), Tom Curran, Liam Dawson, Liam Plunkett, Adil Rashid, Joe Root, Jason Roy, Ben Stokes, James Vince, Chris Woakes, Mark Wood.
New Zealand: Kane Williamson (captain), Tom Blundell (wk), Trent Boult, Colin de Grandhomme, Lockie Ferguson, Martin Guptill, Matt Henry, Tom Latham (wk), Colin Munro, Jimmy Neesham, Henry Nicholls, Mitchell Santner, Ish Sodhi, Tim Southee, Ross Taylor. IANS