England in must-win territory against New Zealand in replay of last year's semi-final

New Zealand will still be well-placed even if they lose, though they would likely need to beat Ireland to ensure progres

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England and New Zealand’s last meeting in this format was an instant classic, a slow-burning epic which saw England’s World Cup hopes go up in flames.

Just short of a year on, England will be staring elimination in the face once again, unless they can overcome one of the tournament’s two unbeaten sides at the Gabba. They would still be alive mathematically with a defeat on Tuesday night, but will be relying on Afghanistan beating Australia on Friday, before having to overcome Sri Lanka in their final fixture in Sydney. In short, this is a must-win.

Net run rate shouldn’t be a major concern for England at this stage, thanks in no small part to Ireland’s Lorcan Tucker. Australia were heading for a convincing win on Monday evening when Ireland were 25 for 5, but Tucker’s unbeaten 71 closed the margin of defeat significantly. As a result, two wins should be enough for England to reach the semi-final; and they have the advantage of playing the last game in Group 1.

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New Zealand have been hugely impressive in brushing Australia and Sri Lanka aside, and victory in Brisbane would seal for them a semi-final berth for the third successive T20 World Cup. Moreover, given their net run rate, they will be close to locking in the top spot. New Zealand will still be well-placed even if they lose, though they would likely need to beat Ireland in Adelaide on Friday to ensure their progress.

Enough about the permutations and onto the game itself, which could be won and lost in the two powerplays. Trent Boult and Tim Southee, New Zealand’s opening bowlers across formats for most of the last decade, have been lethal with the new ball since arriving in Australia, while England’s top order is yet to fire. Jos Buttler has been very successful against Boult in T20s: but can he take his Rajasthan Royals team-mate down in Brisbane when it matters most?

England’s seamers were excellent with the new ball against Afghanistan but were wayward against Ireland; they conceded 59 runs in the first six overs, with Chris Woakes coming in for particularly brutal treatment. Finn Allen is the key wicket: New Zealand blitzed 65 for 1 against Australia when he raced out of the blocks but stumbled to 25 for 3 against Sri Lanka after he fell early on.

Moeen Ali and Liam Livingstone could be shuffled up after limited opportunities so far this tournamentICC via Getty Images

Recent form

England LWWWW(Last five completed matches, most recent first)
New Zealand WWLLW

In the spotlight

“The one person that you want in your team when the pressure is on is Ben Stokes,” Paul Collingwood, England’s assistant coach, said on Monday. Stokes has managed only 41 runs off 42 balls in his five T20Is since arriving in Australia, and for all his quality as a bowler, fielder and leader, now is the time for him to turn the intangibles into game-defining contributions.

England’s batters have targeted Ish Sodhi whenever they have faced him in T20Is: he has nine wickets in as many appearances against them, with an eye-watering economy rate of 10.64 runs per over. Sodhi took the key wicket of Buttler in last year’s semi-final, and will need to be at his best on Tuesday night against a deep batting line-up.

Team news

England’s selection came under scrutiny after their defeat to Ireland but they were due to play an unchanged team against Australia before the game was washed out. As a result, it seems unlikely they will make changes barring a late injury, though Liam Livingstone and Moeen Ali could be shuffled up the order after limited opportunities so far in this tournament. Stokes has hardly trained, but has been declared fully fit.

England (probable): 1 Jos Buttler (capt, wk), 2 Alex Hales, 3 Dawid Malan, 4 Ben Stokes, 5 Liam Livingstone, 6 Moeen Ali, 7 Harry Brook, 8 Sam Curran, 9 Chris Woakes, 10 Mark Wood, 11 Adil Rashid

New Zealand might consider bringing Michael Bracewell in to counter England’s left-hand battersAFP/Getty Images

Mitchell Santner bowled a solitary over in last year’s semi-final, with Kane Williamson reluctant to use him against Dawid Malan and Moeen. England have added an extra left-hander to their middle order this year in Ben Stokes, which could block Santner’s use again; as a result, New Zealand might consider bringing Michael Bracewell, the offspinning allrounder, into their side.

New Zealand (probable): 1 Finn Allen, 2 Devon Conway (wk), 3 Kane Williamson, 4 Glenn Phillips, 5 Daryl Mitchell, 6 James Neesham, 7 Michael Bracewell/Mitchell Santner, 8 Tim Southee, 9 Ish Sodhi, 10 Trent Boult, 11 Lockie Ferguson

Pitch and conditions

David Hussey describes the Gabba as “probably the best batting pitch in Australia for white-ball cricket”, and the numbers back that up: the average scoring rate there in men’s T20Is is 7.94 per over, the second-highest of any Australian ground. The pitch was on the slow side in Australia’s win against Ireland on Monday, and the same strip will be used on Tuesday, which could bring spinners into play.

Bad weather has followed England around over the last week, and the forecast for the match is not the best either, with rain due to fall throughout Tuesday morning. However, the weather is expected to clear up later in the day, and the Gabba’s renowned underground drainage system could ensure the teams get on to the pitch.

Stats and trivia

  • Buttler will become the second player to reach 100 men’s T20Is for England after Eoin Morgan, and will overtake his predecessor as their all-time leading run-scorer in the format if he can makes at least 64.

  • Malan has dominated Sodhi during their previous meetings in T20Is, hitting 105 runs off the 58 balls. It is one of only five head-to-head match-ups in T20I history where a batter has scored more than 100 runs off a single bowler, where ball-by-ball data is available.
  • Allen has the highest strike rate in T20 history among batters with at least 1000 runs.
  • New Zealand have never played a T20I at the Gabba, and have a poor historic record there across formats. They have not won a game in Brisbane in the last 20 years, their most recent victory coming in an ODI against South Africa in January 2002.
  • Quotes

    “It’s frustrating when you’ve got the rain around in Melbourne: it was almost like English conditions there. It’s nice to come up to Brisbane where it’s a lot warmer, and we’re all looking forward to getting a full 40 overs in.”
    Paul Collingwood is hoping for a dry evening at the Gabba after the washout against Australia at the MCG

    “Our brand of cricket might not look as aggressive as them, but we need to stick to what we have done well for a period of time, and make sure we throw our own punches in our own way.”
    Lockie Ferguson doesn’t expect New Zealand to make any major adjustments to their style of play against England

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