- England v New Zealand, Champions Trophy, Group A, Cardiff
England fighting NZ and the weather
Sunday, June 16, Cardiff
Start time 1030 (0930 GMT)
The Big Picture
Déjà vu, anyone? These two teams have certainly seen plenty of each other over the last few months. This match, though, is arguably the most important of the lot with a place in the semi-finals at stake. In theory it's win or bust for England, while a defeat for New Zealand would leave them needing Australia to beat Sri Lanka but not by enough to overtake their NRR.
However, it looks unlikely to even be that simple. The weather forecast for Sunday in Cardiff is not great. The groundsman has talked of a potential washout. That scenario has receded a little but would hurt England and put New Zealand through on four points. Then it would be England needing Australia to win (but, again, not by enough to lift their NRR much) in order to progress. Everyone still with us? If both remaining group matches are washed out, England and New Zealand would go through.
Given the way the weather can change, let's presume the match goes ahead. It has been a difficult few days for England, who bowled poorly against Sri Lanka when they failed to defend 293 and then rumours emerged about the condition of the ball after the umpires changed it. How quickly fortunes can change. Everything was rosy for them after victory against Australia.
One debate is whether England's batting has the power to really damage teams. Yet, with a bowling attack of their supposed strength a total of over 290 should have been defendable. Alastair Cook, Ian Bell and Jonathan Trott are doing their roles, but the problem has been that Eoin Morgan and Jos Buttler have not fired, leaving just Ravi Bopara to give innings a late lift.
There is not much England and New Zealand won't know about each other. If pre-game advantages are being sought then it was Brendon McCullum's team who won the bilateral series 2-1 earlier this month. They edged home against Sri Lanka in the group stage and could have had a tough task to chase 244 against Australia so there are a few questions marks over their batting.
With the ball, however, they have been excellent. Daniel Vettori's return has boosted their options and Mitchell McCleanghan has provided wicket-taking threat much like Geoff Allott did at the 1999 World Cup in England. Everyone, though, will be watching the weather. New Zealand may not say it, but they won't mind if it rains all day.
Form guide (Most recent first, last five completed matches)
New Zealand WLWWL
Watch out for...
Alastair Cook is facing an important day or so. Much stock had been put in England's chances of going deep in this tournament and those hopes are on a knife edge. And then there are the accusations being thrown around involving his team. Cook also admitted his innings against Sri Lanka, a stodgy 59 off 85 deliveries, did not help the momentum. Throughout his career he has responded to pressure with outstanding performances, so don't be surprised to see another.
Martin Guptill has good recent memories against England having taken back-to-back hundreds during the one-day series, including a record-breaking 189 not out at the Ageas Bowl. In the Champions Trophy he has twice succumbed to loose drives against the seamers, but it will be interesting to see if England target him early with some spin although with Graeme Swann rarely used in the Powerplay that appears unlikely.
Jonathan Trott has recovered from the thigh strain that kept him off the field for most of Sri Lanka's run chase at The Oval. With Bopara's lower-order hitting power there are unlikely to be changes to the attack although James Tredwell is unlucky to be on the sidelines.
England (probable) 1 Alastair Cook (capt), 2 Ian Bell, 3 Jonathan Trott, 4 Joe Root, 5 Eoin Morgan, 6 Jos Buttler (wk), 7 Ravi Bopara, 8 Tim Bresnan, 9 Stuart Broad, 10 Graeme Swann, 11 James Anderson
Tim Southee is an injury doubt but Grant Elliott is likely to be available for selection. If Southee doesn't make it, Elliott could strengthen the batting or they could bring in Doug Bracewell or Ian Butler. Luke Ronchi has struggled since his return to international cricket and could need a strong finish to the tournament to retain his place.
New Zealand (probable) 1 Martin Guptill, 2 Luke Ronchi, 3 Kane Williamson, 4 Ross Taylor, 5 James Franklin, 6 Brendon McCullum (capt), 7 Daniel Vettori, 8 Brendon McCullum, 9 Doug Bracewell, 10 Kyle Mills, 11 Mitchell McClenaghan
Pitch and conditions
The surfaces in Cardiff have ranged from high-scorers (India v South Africa and South Africa v West Indies) to a grungy low-scorer (New Zealand v Sri Lanka). The slightly odd dimensions to the ground, with long corners, can make it hard to defend. However, if the forecast is to be trusted the pitch may not be uncovered. The BBC forecast suggests rain from 12pm with it getting heavier towards evening.
Stats and trivia
- Brendon McCullum needs 56 runs to reach 5000 in ODIs
- Mitchell McClenaghan requires two more wickets to equal Kyle Mills' 10 as the most for New Zealand in a Champions Trophy
- New Zealand have won all three of their ODIs in Cardiff, against Australia in 1999, West Indies in 2004 and Sri Lanka last week
- England are also unbeaten in five ODIs at the ground, although three of those have been no-results
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Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo