After three weeks of intense action, where 16 teams fought hard in the ICC T20 World Cup 2021, it has all come down to the last four. Pakistan, England, New Zealand and Australia were the four teams that made it to the semi-finals with their performance in the Super 12s. The first semi-final will witness the table-toppers of Group 1 England and the second placed New Zealand from Group 2, collide at Sheikh Zayed Stadium on Wednesday.
Eoin Morgan-led side came into the tournament as one of the favourites and they have lived up to it. They topped the group with eight points and a net run-rate of 2.464. England began their campaign with a massive win over West Indies by six wickets and 50 balls.
They proceeded to hammer Bangladesh, Australia and Sri Lanka in the next three matches to put themselves in a strong position. The Three Lions lost the last game against South Africa by 10 runs but did enough to top the table with a superior NRR.
New Zealand secured the second place in Group 2 with eight points to their name in the Super 12s. They were handed a five-wicket loss by Pakistan in the first game but bounced back well to hammer India by eight wickets. The Kiwis defeated Scotland and Namibia in the next two to set up a mini knock-out with Afghanistan. NZ defeated the Afghans without breaking a sweat by eight wickets to book their semi-finals spot.
England will be looking to make their second appearance in the T20 WC final, while New Zealand will like to avenge their 2016 World T20 semi-final and 2019 ODI World Cup final losses against England.
Jos Buttler has a sensational record for England since moving to the opening, scoring over 1100 runs at an average of 59 while striking at nearly 150. Buttler was magnificent against Australia, smashing 71* off 32 and followed it up with 101* off 67 against Sri Lanka. The wicketkeeper batter is averaging 120 in the ongoing WC, having scored 240 runs at a strike rate of 156.
Trent Boult has been a prolific wicket-taker for New Zealand in T20Is, picking 57 wickets from 39 games at a terrific strike rate of 15.3. The left arm pacer is their highest wicket-taker in the ongoing WC with 11 wickets in the Super 12s at an economy of 5.84 and strike rate of 10.7. Boult was excellent against India and Afghanistan, picking 3/20 and 3/17, respectively.
Kane Williamson is amongst the best all-format batters, and even though his recent form doesn’t inspire confidence, he could make an impact on the big stage. Williamson, who does an anchor’s job for NZ, has scored over 1900 runs in T20Is at an average of 32 and strike rate of 122. He is averaging 42 in the ongoing tournament for 126 runs, albeit at a low strike rate.
Adil Rashid is one of the top leg-spinners in the world, having picked 73 wickets for England in T20s at 7.35 runs per over, including six three-fers. Rashid has been in outstanding form, having snared eight wickets in five matches of the Super 12s at 5.83 rpo, with the best of 4 for 2. Rashid will be a key match-up against NZ, who have four right-handers in the top five.
The head to head record between the two teams suggests that England have had the upper hand in this rivalry, leading the scoreline by 13-7. They have also beaten NZ in three of the last five matches. England also lead the scoreline in the T20 WCs by 3-2.
Despite several injury setbacks, England remains a solid team. They have a power-packed batting unit, even without Jason Roy, who was ruled out due to a calf tear. Buttler, Moeen Ali, Liam Livingstone are in superb form while Morgan has also found his touch.
The bowling department has done a good job in the tournament but was only tested once, where they were taken apart. Tymal Mills’ injury puts a big hole in their death bowling, but Mark Wood’s return should give them some relief.
New Zealand have won their matches on the back of brilliant bowling performances. They have a pretty all-round attack with Boult, Tim Southee and Ish Sodhi in good form. The batting unit is a bit underpowered, being not quite suited for high-scoring matches. However, they’ll still be very good on a moderate deck.
England will head into the game as favourites but New Zealand are well capable of pulling off a surprise.