The ICC Champions Trophy 2017 is proving to be a run-fest with four centuries and eleven fifties scored already in the first five matches. It has produced a variety of results with totals defended and chased, including a game without a result.
The Sophia Gardens in Cardiff will witness its first game of the tournament between the favourites England and the ravenous New Zealand on Tuesday. Both teams have come out on top in their first encounters, although New Zealand will be keen to win this contest to avoid any dependency on net run rates to secure a semi-final berth.
Meanwhile, England put up an imposing batting performance in the Champions Trophy opener at the Oval against Bangladesh with Alex Hales, Eoin Morgan and Joe Root scoring 95, 75* and 133* respectively. However, Jason Roy’s batting woes continued as he managed only one run in eight balls he tentatively faced.
On the other hand, in their first outing, the Kiwis had Australians on the backfoot throughout the rain-hit game. The Aussie top-order fell cheaply while chasing a steep target of 235 in 33 overs. The Black Caps bossed the game until the rain dampened the mood and the result. Kane Williamson scored a century with almost mechanical precision, while Ronchi dealt the initial punches to neutralize a dangerous Aussie attack.
Heavy showers are expected to drift across Cardiff on Tuesday. But it isn’t hopeless to anticipate a non-truncated game.
The ‘never back down’ approach of the both sides, promises an exciting encounter with the prime battle between England’s prolific batting lineup and New Zealand’s potent bowling unit.
High on confidence, England opener Hales will look to take on the Kiwi pace attack led by Southee and Boult. Whereas young Adam Milne will bowl with his tail up at the in-form Morgan and Root.
There are a few worries in both camps though. New Zealand’s middle order and tail-enders failed to capitalize on a strong start against the Aussies. To stand a chance against England, they will need all their batsmen to contribute in order to chase or set a 300-plus total at the very least.
England’s list of concerns runs longer. They lost their go to bowler, Chris Woakes to a side-strain injury during their first game. Additionally, Jake Ball’s confidence would have taken a blow after he took a battering from the Bangladesh batsmen. Ben Stokes’ iffy knee might prevent him to be at his effective best with the ball.
Adil Rashid is expected to feature in the contest. Having lost a key bowler, England would need the leggie’s services as an impact bowler to dent the Kiwis in the middle overs.
England: Eoin Morgan (c), Joe Root, Jason Roy, Alex Hales, Moeen Ali, Ben Stokes, Jos Butler (wk), Adil Rashid, Liam Plunkett, Mark Wood, Jake Ball/David Willey
New Zealand: Kane Williamson (c), Martin Guptill, Corey Anderson, Ross Taylor, James Neesham, Luke Ronchi (wk), Mitchell Santner, Neil Broom, Adam Milne, Trent Boult, Tim Southee
Martin Guptill – Averaging 51.10 in his last 20 innings, and striking at 100.83, he is a match-winner on his day. His intent was clear against the Aussies and it will be no different against the Englishmen. If he gets off to a flier, he could take the game away from England very quickly. Something England would want to avoid at all costs.
Trent Boult – He has spearheaded the Kiwi pace attack very well over the past two years. Picking up 42 wickets in his previous 22 games, he continues to provide early breakthroughs which will be the key against England.
Joe Root – Arguably England’s best batsmen, he stands resolute at number three, averaging 69.06 in his last 20 ODIs. Fresh off a ton, he will be keen on capitalizing on his good form to allow the English batsmen to bat around him. The Kiwis will look for every way to get him out cheaply.
Adil Rashid – In his previous 20 outings, Adil has picked up 36 wickets at an average of 26.41. He has one 5 wicket-haul and two man-of-match awards during that period. Adil’s form might prove instrumental in curtailing a rampant Kiwi top-order.
England and New Zealand have played 83 ODIs against each other, where 41 have been won by New Zealand and only 36 by England.
England and New Zealand’s head-to-head in the ICC Champions Trophy overall is 1-1. This will be the third time they play each other in the Champions Trophy.
Morgan has hit 21 sixes in ODIs this year, followed by 15 from Stokes. Guptill has hit 11 sixes in 2017.
Liam Plunkett has 24 wickets from 10 matches this year, the most by any bowler from either side in 2017
England scored 324 in Cardiff last year against the Sri Lankans, it is the highest ODI score at the Sophia Gardens.