England v New Zealand, Group C, St Lucia March 15, 2007

Lose the toss, win the match

The two teams which made life miserable for the Australians over the last month - England and New Zealand - will take on each other in their first match of the World Cup. Cricinfo checks out their recent form and the players to watch out for.

Jacob Oram: New Zealand's in-form player enjoys playing against England © Getty Images

  • Both England and New Zealand go into their World Cup opener on a bit of a roll - England turned the tables on Australia in the CB Series finals, while New Zealand heaped more misery on the Australians, beating them three successive times to win the Chappell-Hadlee Series. Their head-to-head stats too indicate that there is little to choose between the teams - in 58 ODIs, each team has won exactly 27 times (one tie, three no-results), while their six World Cup encounters have been split down the middle as well. In their recent meetings, though, New Zealand have had the advantage, winning eight of the last 12 ODIs, and the last three World Cup games.

  • Going by their past stats, both captains might prefer to lose the toss: of the 54 games which have produced a decisive result, 33 have gone in favour of the team which has lost the toss. England only have a 36% win percentage when the toss goes in their favour (8 wins, 14 losses), while the corresponding percentage for New Zealand is 41 (13 wins, 19 defeats).

  • Paul Collingwood has been England's in-form player - with two centuries and a 7- in his last three innings - but he has underperformed against New Zealand, averaging just 20.80 in 11 ODIs against them, well below his career average of 34.05.

  • New Zealand's top two bowlers have had contrasting fortunes in World Cup matches. Shane Bond has ripped out 17 wickets in eight games at an average of less than 18, but Daniel Vettori has struggled for penetration, managing just two wickets in seven ODIs, at a very exorbitant 129.50 apiece. His economy rate of 3.98 suggests, though, that he's done the containing job really well.

  • England need to watch out for Jacob Oram, New Zealand's in-form allrounder. In five games against England, Oram averages 77.50 with the bat and 21 with the ball.

  • New Zealand's key player at the top of the order will be Stephen Fleming, and Michael Vaughan will do well to press Andrew Flintoff into the attack when he's at the crease: in 80 deliveries from Flintoff, Fleming has only scored 39 runs and has been dismissed twice - that's an average of 19.50 and a scoring rate of 2.92 runs per over.

    S Rajesh is stats editor of Cricinfo

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