Dubai, Nov 10: When England last met New Zealand in an ICC white-ball tournament, there was little to separate the two teams after 50+1 overs each. England claimed the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2019 title only by the barest of margins in that match at Lord’s.
Since then, New Zealand have insisted that that heartbreak is behind them. They have gone on to lift the ICC World Test Championship trophy, and come into this encounter with personnel who weren’t in the middle for that Lord’s match and don’t carry those scars. For the team, this tournament is simply another chance to be rewarded with some silverware for the quality and consistency they have maintained across formats in the past few years.
The two teams are similar in that they are led by canny, inspirational captains, who ensure the team is greater than the sum of its parts and take pride in playing positive cricket. But where England’s aggression plays out primarily through their batting, with players willing to take risks and hit sixes all the way down the order, New Zealand’s aggression is more controlled, and driven by their bowling.
New Zealand’s bowling attack has proved to be one of the best balanced in the competition. In Trent Boult they have a solid left-arm pacer who can swing the ball, a right-arm quick in Tim Southee, someone who can bang the ball in at pace like Adam Milne, a left-arm spinner who dries up the runs in Mitchell Santner, a wicket-taking leg-spinner in Ish Sodhi, and an all-rounder in Jimmy Neesham who can take pace off the ball. They are an in-form attack who have quickly adjusted to the different conditions at each venue, and are expertly rotated during a game by captain Kane Williamson.
Their biggest challenge will be to adjust to the evening conditions at Abu Dhabi. Having played their last three games in the afternoon, their plans will have to account for the possibility of dew.
England, meanwhile, have unfinished business in the tournament. Last time’s runners-up are ranked No.1 in the world, with their big-hitting batters and reliance on match-ups defining their successful approach.