Sunil Gavaskar column: England vs New Zealand could be the game of the tournament

England's Jos Buttler is probably the best T20 batsman now. (AFP)
England's Jos Buttler is probably the best T20 batsman now. (AFP)

The Kiwis have the right mix of batting and bowling and their fielding has probably been the most dazzling in the tournament so far



By Sunil Gavaskar

Published: Wed 10 Nov 2021, 11:04 AM

Last updated: Wed 10 Nov 2021, 5:48 PM

The first semifinal of the ICC Men’s Twenty20 Cup will be between the finalists of the 2019 ICC 50 overs World Cup. New Zealand lost that game but won the hearts of cricket lovers across the world with the way they accepted that loss.

They then made up for that defeat by winning the first ever World Championship of Test cricket and now give themselves a chance to add the T20 trophy to their cabinet. It’s not going to be easy as they are up against an England team that has been playing some incredible white-ball cricket over the last half dozen years or so.

After their humiliating exit at the group stage in the ICC World Cup in Australia in 2015, England changed its approach to white ball cricket dramatically and today that approach is paying dividends with the manner in which they are winning from impossible situations.

England were fortunate that immediately after that disastrous World Cup they had New Zealand under Brendon McCullum touring England. McCullum was the one whose innings of 158 in the first ever match of the IPL enabled the tournament to take off vertically and is still flying in stratosphere.

In that white ball series in England whatever the Kiwis did England did one better. They matched the Kiwi approach ball for ball, move for move and found a template that took them to their first ever 50 overs World Cup win in the very next edition after that ignominious exit in Australia.

They had won the T20 World cup earlier in 2010 in the West Indies under Paul Collingwood with Kevin Pietersen being the linchpin of their batting then. Today they have several players who bat like KP and hit the ball even further than he did.

Jos Buttler, Jonny Bairstow, Liam Livingstone can clobber the ball miles and when he is on song the captain Eoin Morgan makes spectators in the stands wish they had worn helmets too. Morgan the batsman has not really been needed by England in the tournament so far as Morgan the captain has shown why he is one of the best in the business. His marshalling of the bowlers and spot on field placements have ensured that the opposition batters have not got away.

Kane Williamson is also a skipper in the same mould — calm, cool, collected and totally respected by his teammates. New Zealand perhaps love not being in the spotlight as there are then few expectations of them.

On the field though they are fierce opponents who know what to do most of the time. They have the right mix of batting and bowling and their fielding has probably been the most dazzling in the tournament so far.

It could well be the best game of the tournament. Sadly one of them has to lose. (TCM)


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