© Getty Images
© Getty Images

England will face stiff competition against New Zealand in Match 6 of ICC Champions Trophy 2017, at Sophia Gardens in Cardiff. The match is crucial for both sides. England have to continue their momentum as a win from here will ensure them a spot in the semi-final. New Zealand, on the other hand, are still in hunt of their first win after rain played spoilsport in their inaugural match, against Australia. England had the perfect start to the tournament as they thrashed a hapless Bangladesh by 8 wickets with Joe Root’s century and fifties from Alex Hales and skipper Eoin Morgan. Kane Williamson, on the other hand, had scored a sublime hundred against Australia. Full Cricket Scorecard: ICC Champions Trophy 2017, England vs New Zealand, Match 6 at Cardiff

Early encounters

England and New Zealand last met in a bilateral series in England in 2015. It was a keenly-contested series that went down to the wire. While the teams took turns to win a game each, the decider was clinched by England. However, England will take heart from the Edgbaston match of the series: after setting a target of 409, England bundled out New Zealand for 198 in 31.1 overs to register a 210-run win, their largest victory margin in ODI history. It was also the highest-scoring five-match series.

As for ICC events, New Zealand had churned England during the 2015 World Cup with Tim Southee securing career-best ODI figures of 7 for 33 and Brendon McCullum’s bludgeoning a 39-ball 77. New Zealand even entered the final but were humbled by Australia.

In Champions Trophy both sides were in the same group in 2013. When they clashed, Alastair Cook scored an 82-ball 64 while James Anderson spearheaded with ball in a low-score match. Interestingly, their encounter was in the same venue — Cardiff. England ultimately reached the final but were routed by India.

The overall record favours New Zealand who lead with 41-36 in addition to 2 ties and 4 no-result matches. As for Champions Trophy, the teams are tied 1-1.

England perspective

Although England have faith on their regulars like Morgan, Root and Hales, they would want the out-of-form Jason Roy to step up. Morgan has already mentioned that he would persist with Roy through the tournament despite the latter’s lack of form.

England have been jolted by the injury of Chris Woakes, who has been ruled out of the tournament. That provides opportunity to Steven Finn, who may find a spot in the playing XI after a forgettable South Africa series.

England may also want to bring in David Willey for this crucial game in place of Jake Ball, who has been struggling off late. Willey is also a terrific hitter down the order. With Cardiff having short boundaries, England may go for all pace-attack in addition to Moeen Ali, leaving out Adil Rashid.

England bat deep, with an explosive middle-order (that boasts of Ben Stokes and Jos Buttler) followed by a strong lower middle-order. Of course, there is the small matter of rain looming over…

England Likely XI: Eoin Morgan (c), Jos Buttler (wk), Jason Roy, Alex Hales, Joe Root, Ben Stokes, Moeen Ali, Liam Plunkett, David Willey, Jake Ball, Mark Wood.

New Zealand perspective

New Zealand, too, were off the mark with their Champions Trophy campaign. Had rain not got the better of the situation, New Zealand were in for a win. Williamson’s classic show was a sight to watch once again. With Luke Ronchi and Martin Guptill at the top, the task gets easier for the middle-order. The worrisome bit was when New Zealand lost their last 7 wickets for 37 runs.

But the bowlers covered up the deficit reducing them to 53 for 3 inside 9 overs, removing David Warner, Moises Henriques and Aaron Finch. Adam Milne will be on spotlight once again after his impressive mini-spell in the Australia match. Trent Boult and Tim Southee can also exploit the Cardiff conditions.

New Zealand Likely XI: Kane Williamson (c), Luke Ronchi (wk), Martin Guptill, Ross Taylor, Neil Broom, Jimmy Neesham, Corey Anderson, Mitchell Santner, Adam Milne, Tim Southee, Trent Boult.

Pitch conditions

With the rain keeping the pitch covered throughout Monday, bowling first would be the best possible option for both the sides, before the weather gets the better of the situation.

Who said what?

Finn on being called as replacement for Woakes: “It’s obviously very sad for Chris Woakes, who is a good friend of mine, but I am glad that I’ve got the call.”

Boult on Root: “He’s arguably the calmest man alive. He gets more flustered on what to wear on a dinner date with his missus than he does on the field.”

Squads

England: Eoin Morgan (c), Jonny Bairstow (wk), Sam Billings (wk), Jos Buttler (wk), Moeen Ali, Jake Ball, Alex Hales, Liam Plunkett, Adil Rashid, Joe Root, Jason Roy, Ben Stokes, David Willey, Mark Wood, Steven Finn.

New Zealand: Kane Williamson (c), Luke Ronchi (wk), Corey Anderson, Trent Boult, Neil Broom, Colin de Grandhomme, Martin Guptill, Tom Latham, Mitchell McClenaghan, Adam Milne, James Neesham, Jeetan Patel, Mitchell Santner, Tim Southee, Ross Taylor.