Let us rewind to February 2015, New Zealand had met England in an important ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 fixture at Wellington and what we witnessed was a complete demolition. The match had lasted little less than 46 overs with England having being bowled out for 123 and New Zealand chased it down in 12.2 overs. As the sides meet again in another ICC World event, New Zealand’s destructors-in-chief from that game will be missing from the line-up. Brendon McCullum, who had smacked a 25-ball 77 has retired from international cricket and Tim Southee, who picked 7 for 33 is cooling his heels in the dug-out as he is set to miss another game in the ICC World T20 2016 for New Zealand.

That has been the story of New Zealand so far. They have adopted horses for courses policy ahead of reputations. Southee and Trent Boult are good enough players to walk into any XI in the world but in conditions where spin has played the decisive factor, New Zealand have made some real bold moves. And will that change in the semi-final?

“We are simply trying to pick horses for courses for the given conditions against the given opposition at that point of time. That won’t change. Our spinners have been brilliant on surfaces that have suited spin bowling. And perhaps on the best track we played on in Mohali, they still played a big part,” said New Zealand skipper Kane Williamson about keeping Southee and Boult on bench.

The Delhi wicket, which has the reputation of being painfully slow and rank turner, might wear a different look. It is expected to sport a green look. The Kiwis have shown excellent acumen in reading the pitches and might be tempted to use the proven pace duo. We will have to wait and see.

While New Zealand have enjoyed an unbeaten run in the tournament, ending the group as table-toppers, England, on the other hand have just managed to sneak a spot. While that ODI from Wellington last year is a history, however that game has left scars on the English side. However, on the brighter side, when New Zealand toured England later in 2015, the hosts meted out a 3-2 defeat to the visitors in the ODI series and even the one-off T20I went England’s way. New Zealand were experimenting a bit too much and England’s core group from that series is pretty similar to the side they are fielding here.

Here is how the side’s journey has been in this tournament, so far:

England

  • Lost to West Indies by 6 wickets at Mumbai
  • Beat South Africa by 2 wickets at Mumbai
  • Beat Afghanistan by 15 runs at Delhi
  • Beat Sri Lanka by 10 runs at Delhi

Most Runs:

168 – Joe Root (4 matches)

123 – Jos Buttler (4 matches)

 Most Wickets:

6 – David Willey (4 matches)

New Zealand

  • Beat India by 47 runs at Nagpur
  • Beat Australia by 8 runs at Dharamsala
  • Beat Pakistan by 22 runs at Mohali
  • Beat Bangladesh by 75 runs at Kolkata

Most Runs:

125 – Martin Guptill (4 matches)

Most Wickets:

9 – Mitchell Santner (4 matches)

8 – Ish Sodhi (4 matches)

England’s batting revolves around Joe Root, one of the best batters on the planet but New Zealand match it with the presence of Williamson in their rank. Both teams have plenty of firepower. If Alex Hales carries a massive reputation in T20s, Martin Guptill can single-handedly change a game’s course. The sides have seasoned pros in Eoin Morgan and Ross Taylor, and impact all-rounders in Ben Stokes and Corey Anderson. Comparing the side, man to man, though England bat deeper, New Zealand wear a slightly more formidable look. Here’s the comparison:

Infographics by Suvajit Mustafi | Designed by Srushti Takale
Infographics by Suvajit Mustafi | Designed by Srushti Takale

(Suvajit Mustafi consumes cricket for lunch, fiction for dinner and munches numerous other snacks throughout the day. Yes, a jack of several trades, all Suvajit dreamt of was being India’s World Cup winning skipper but ended up being a sports writer, author, screenwriter, director, copywriter, graphic designer, sportsmarketer , strategist, entrepreneur,  philosopher and traveller. Donning so many hats, it’s cricket which gives him the ultimate high and where he finds solace. He can be followed at @RibsGully and rivu7)