England and New Zealand face each other in the first semi-final of the ICC T20 World Cup 2021 on Wednesday. England topped the show in Group 1 of the Super 12 stage, winning four and losing one. Meanwhile, the Kiwis finished second in Group 2, with four wins and a defeat. One expects a close encounter between two top sides who have played a strong brand of cricket in the tournament.
Both teams have the resources to come out on top and deliver the goods. After losing their opening tie, the Kiwis enjoyed massive wins against India, Namibia, Scotland, and Afghanistan. Meanwhile, England overcame West Indies, Bangladesh, Australia, and Sri Lanka. However, they faltered against South Africa in the final Super 12 match.
New Zealand, who suffered a heart-breaking loss in the ICC 2019 World Cup against England, will be keen to get past the line. The ICC World Test Championship winners have played a good brand of cricket and would want to show their mettle. England are the favourites though. They have a complete side to go out and produce substance.
We present the key player battles.
Jos Buttler vs Trent Boult
One of the finest T20 batters – Jos Buttler will be eager to come out on top against left-arm pacer Trent Boult. Notably, Buttler will need to step up and take the mantle with fellow opening partner Jason Roy ruled out of the tourney. Buttler has been in great touch. He has got good scores of 24, 18, 71, 101*, and 26 in the ongoing tournament. Meanwhile, Boult is a dangerous customer and can be lethal with his offerings. His in-swinging deliveries will test Buttler.
Jonny Bairstow vs Tim Southee
In Roy’s absence, England will promote Bairstow to partner Buttler. The senior batter has struggled in the tournament, getting scores of 9, 8, 16, 0, and 1. Bairstow can be caught off guard by Tim Southee, who is bowling with purpose. The veteran pacer has 106 T20I scalps and can surpass Lasith Malinga, who claimed 107 wickets for Sri Lanka. Southee has seven wickets in the ongoing tournament and has looked sharp.
Martin Guptill vs Moeen Ali
Veteran Kiwi batter Martin Guptill has got starts in the ICC T20 World Cup 2021. Barring his majestic 93 versus Scotland, the right-handed batter has fallen prey rather early on after getting set. He needs to play a big innings against England. He is an aggressive customer and a clean striker off of the ball. Guptill will need to tackle Moeen Ali. The all-rounder has done a fair job bowling with the new ball for England. The right-arm spinner can outfox Guptill with his simplicity.
Kane Williamson vs Chris Jordan
A calm and composed Kane Williamson holds the cards for NZ. Coming in at number three, Williamson can play the big knock NZ want. He is a clever player and makes batting so easy to the eye. Williamson has contributed with vital scores so far and that’s a plus. However, Williamson needs to be wary of Chris Jordan. The England pacer has many tricks up his sleeves. Interestingly, Jordan is yet to concede a six in the T20 World Cup 2021. Jordan will want to keep things tight and have a crack at Williamson. The slower balls could work well.