This is the big one. If England win this, then at least Pakistan, and possibly also Bangladesh, will be furious. If they lose, then there is still some hope. But will they lose? New Zealand are certainly a chance, and have had a pretty good tournament. What with winning a bunch of close ones, none closer than when Carlos Braithwaite was caught over the boundary when trying to hit the winning 6.
But they’ve also lost the last couple, to Pakistan and Australia, and their bubble has burst, at least a little bit. New Zealand are still playing good cricket, though, and if England get demoralised even a little bit then New Zealand are a chance. Even if they don’t, New Zealand are a chance to win genuinely anyway. New Zealand don’t like to play dirty, though, so don’t expect any sledging or attempts to intimidate. This is going to be a matter of the best team winning. If England get depressed, they’ll be doing it to themselves.
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Five Fearless Predictions:
(1) I just can’t say no to Kane
I predicted a failure for Kane Williamson in his match against Australia, and technically I was right but realistically probably not, as he top-scored with 40 and took a wicket to boot. He wasn’t man of the match and didn’t win it for New Zealand, though, or go close, but he was still pretty good. It looks like predicting a failure for Mr Williamson is unwise so I am not going to do it again. I’ve learned my lesson.
(2) Jason Roy is going to go big
He was good against India and it felt like he was the difference, and I think that, with his injury niggle surely having left him, he will capitalise, so expect a big one, perhaps a century, and at a similarly high rate to how he scored against India.
(3) Ben Stokes will really cash in
If England wins this World Cup, it will be because of Ben Stokes. The way he held the game together against Sri Lanka and Australia, even in losses, helped England to come back to win against India – when he was pretty good there too. This is his time, against the country of his birth, and I expect a really big one here, with bat and ball, and maybe even a classic catch along the way or a big run out. He is just bursting with form right now.
(4) Jos Buttler will come good
He batted too low against India to really capitalise and I think he’ll be pushed up the order against New Zealand and come good. How high up the order I can’t predict – perhaps number 3? Eoin Morgan has been terrible lately so I think Buttler should come in ahead of him, so perhaps 4, but maybe even ahead of Root too.
(5) England will win
While New Zealand are a chance, especially if England get depressed, it’s not a big chance, and after England’s return to form against India, and with the knowledge that they need to win this one to qualify for the semi-finals, England will come good, I think.