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Resolute New Zealand battle resurgent England to seize semi-final fate
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Resolute New Zealand battle resurgent England to seize semi-final fate

As the group stage of the World Cup approaches its conclusion, the fight for sealing the semi-final berth intensifies.

2015 World Cup runners-up New Zealand will take on tournament hosts England in Chester-le-Street in a contest extremely vital to chances of both sides making it to the next round.

New Zealand's upward journey in the World Cup has met a couple of obstacles in the shape of back-to-back defeats against Pakistan and Australia, leading to introspection regarding the team's batting and bowling depth.

Kane Williamson's patient approach, as opposed to his counterpart's ultra-aggressive mindset, provides an intriguing matchup between two different styles of play.

Despite New Zealand's nervy batting performances of late, veteran member of the squad Ross Taylor believed his side possessed the quality to change their fortunes quickly.

"We definitely haven't got the momentum that we would have liked in the last couple of games, but tomorrow is a different story against different opposition," he said.

England's boom or bust attitude has reaped them mixed results throughout the tournament.

They finally got back to their winning ways after a similar slump in form experienced by the Black Caps, as they defeated India by 31 runs reminiscent of the gameplan of batting big first and applying the brakes in the second innings - a strategy that has seen them climb to the number one ranking.

Morgan described the last meeting with New Zealand in a World Cup as the "rock-bottom" moment of his career, that eventually spurred the English into instituting major changes in their setup.

"Certainly as a captain and as a player, being beaten off the park like that was humiliating.

"New Zealand proved a point that you can actually be really good humans and grow the game and play cricket in your own way and win at the same time, which is incredibly eye-opening for a lot of countries around the world."

Roy balances England's batting

 

While Jonny Bairstow earned all the accolades in the aftermath of the victory over India owing to his fiery century, it was, in fact, Jason Roy's crucial contribution at the top which set the tone for the innings.

 

Roy's superb partnership with Bairstow has been the main explanation for England's tremendous success in ODIs as the duo currently average the most for an opening pair that has played a minimum of 20 innings.

 

James Vince's flop shows during Roy's time out of the side put into perspective the right-handed batsman's importance in the English line-up.

 

De Grandhomme's underrated skills

 

New Zealand's top order and pace attack have been in the limelight during this World Cup while all-rounder Colin de Grandhomme has been quietly chipping away at oppositions with his handy striking abilities and tight accuracy with the ball.

He has frequently shown glimpses of how destructive he can be with the bat, with a supporting act in both the games against South Africa and Pakistan.

 

As England prepare to head into the match with a seam-heavy bowling line-up, De Grandhomme's battle against England quicks could be one savoury contest to look out for.

Squads

New Zealand: Kane Williamson (c), Ross Taylor, Tom Latham (wk), Tom Blundell (wk), Mitchell Santner, Colin de Grandhomme, Lockie Ferguson, Tim Southee, Trent Boult, Colin Munro, Ish Sodhi, Henry Nicholls, Martin Guptill, Matt Henry, Jimmy Neesham

 

England: Eoin Morgan (c), Moeen Ali, Jofra Archer, Jonny Bairstow, Jos Buttler (wk), Tom Curran, Liam Dawson, Liam Plunkett, Adil Rashid, Joe Root, Jason Roy, Ben Stokes, James Vince, Chris Woakes, Mark Wood