On Thursday, seven players will be in action from each side who were part of that ultra-exciting final four years ago-which saw tied scores (241 in 50 overs, followed by 15 each in the Super Over), before the winner was decided by the controversial and now-scrapped boundary countback rule. Within months of that controversial verdict, ICC’s cricket committee tweaked the rules to decide the winner via multiple Super Overs instead, should the situation arise.
“We’ve played England a lot in a few formats over the last couple of years. We’re solely focused on the job at hand tomorrow. We’ve had time to reflect on what a fantastic game it was four years ago and I’m sure everyone will say it’s probably one of the greatest games of cricket to be played,” said Kiwis’ stand-in-captain Tom Latham.
Led by Eoin Morgan back then, England displayed a brand of exciting, attacking cricket. Four years on, under a different captain, Jos Buttler, who had led them to the T20 World Cup triumph last year, England go into the 10-team tournament as title favourites, more so after the return from retirement of the talismanic Ben Stokes. While Stokes has given England’s Test cricket a ‘Bazball’ touch’ the transition from Morgan to Buttler too has been smooth for England.
England need to ensure their campaign is off to a smooth start against the familiar foes, whom they just beat 3-1 in a home ODI series.
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Kiwis to miss Southee, Williamson
The Kiwis are hampered by the absence of not just their captain and one of the best batters in the world, Kane Williamson (knee injury), but also veteran pacer Tim Southee, who is recovering from thumb surgery. “No Kane and no Tim as well. He’s (Southee) unavailable for selection just in terms of what happened to his thumb a couple of weeks ago, but he’s recovering nicely. He’s nearly two weeks post-surgery so fingers crossed he can keep recovering. It’s a bit of a day-by-day process,” Latham said.
Ironically, it was at this venue that Williamson suffered his horrific injury almost six months back, while fielding in the deep for the Gujarat Titans against Chennai Super Kings in the opening match of the IPL.
In the ODI World Cups, the record is even more even – both teams have clashed 10 times and won five games each. While England have reached three World Cup finals, the Kiwis have a habit of punching above their weight and regularly making the semifinals, and on the last two occasions, even the finals.