Chance for revenge: Blackcaps search for World Cup upset

Author
Niall Anderson, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Wed, 10 Nov 2021, 1:40PM
Eleven players will walk out in Abu Dhabi with the memories, or scars, of that 2019 final. (Photo / Photosport)
Eleven players will walk out in Abu Dhabi with the memories, or scars, of that 2019 final. (Photo / Photosport)

Chance for revenge: Blackcaps search for World Cup upset

Author
Niall Anderson, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Wed, 10 Nov 2021, 1:40PM

A wry smile crosses Gary Stead's face as he delivers a truth that will bring back bad memories for New Zealand cricket fans. 

"We're looking forward to playing England again, we're looking forward to it being a one-off game – where anything can happen." 

Oh, how the Black Caps know that better than anyone. 

Two years on from the infamous ODI World Cup final, New Zealand and England meet again in a World Cup knockout game, clashing in the Twenty20 World Cup semifinal tomorrow morning. 

Eleven players will walk out in Abu Dhabi with the memories, or scars, of that day. Martin Guptill, Kane Williamson, Jimmy Neesham, Mitchell Santner and Trent Boult return on the New Zealand side, with Jonny Bairstow, Eoin Morgan, Jos Buttler, Chris Woakes, Adil Rashid and Mark Wood backing up for England. 

Never fear, there's no boundary countback this time, but what the Black Caps will encounter is an England side favoured to add to their trophy collection in white-ball cricket. 

England's threat has been slightly dimmed by the tournament-ending injury to destructive opener Jason Roy, which when added to the unavailability of Ben Stokes, Sam Curran, Jofra Archer and Tymal Mills, makes it five players missing who would have otherwise been in the English squad for this showdown. 

And yet, one glance at the sextet of players returning from 2019 underlines why the bookmakers have installed England not only as favourites to beat New Zealand, but to win the title. 

On the other hand though, England were also healthy favourites in 2019, and if it weren't for the positioning of Stokes' outstretched bat, or the positioning of Boult's foot, then the Black Caps would be on the hunt for three consecutive world trophies. 

They come into this game with a clean bill of health, and on the back of four straight victories. While their last three opponents – Scotland, Namibia and Afghanistan – aren't in the same realm as England, the Black Caps lost all three tosses, at three different venues, yet still managed to claim comprehensive victories in a classy display of skill and adaptability. 

Their bowling performances in those four wins have been so assured that their batsmen remain somewhat untested, a fact Stead is cognisant of. 

"It's been an interesting tournament in that we haven't really had to have a big chase – when we've chased targets they've been 110 and 120 – so it's always difficult to know for sure how you'll be placed when it's a 160-180 target. But we believe we've got the players in the group to do it." 

Stead says there hasn't been any chatter of 2019 within the group, but after he offered a wry smile, Boult supplied a cheeky grin to indicate that even if it won't impact their performance, a measure of revenge will at least be in the back of their minds. 

"There's been some good history between the sides over the last wee while with white ball cricket," grinned an understated Boult. 

"Let's hope we can create a big upset."