Kiwis seek another semi-final
Match FactsMonday, May 10, St Lucia
Start time 1330 (1730 GMT)
The Big PictureThe team who perpetually punch above their weight in global competitions versus the most notable under-achievers of the lot. This is a contest that - barring disasters - should count for little for one of the protagonists, England, but for the other, New Zealand, it will make or break their progression to the semi-finals.
The Kiwis know all about the last four - it's their spiritual home in ICC events, having reached those heights in five World Cups, three Champions Trophies and the inaugural World Twenty20 to boot. And, having recovered from a sound thrashing at the hands of South Africa to squeak past Pakistan in a one-run thriller on Saturday, they will hope they have enough momentum to notch up a second victory, and keep their noses in front of both South Africa and Pakistan, whose earlier clash will have spelt out their exact run-rate requirements before the toss.
It promises, however, to be a tall order against a team that (astonishingly by their usual standards) are shaping up as the wild cards of the competition. After their soggy start in Guyana, England have put together two seriously impressive victories in the Super Eights, not least Saturday's 39-run trouncing of the much-fancied South Africans.
With a wide array of attacking batsman, a battery of seamers who use the short ball well, and two canny spinners in Graeme Swann and Michael Yardy, they have men for all occasions, and the confidence that comes with success. If England are ever to break their duck in ICC events, they will surely never have a better balanced unit than the one they currently boast. But for this particular fixture, they'll be missing Kevin Pietersen due to the birth of his child, and whether they admit it or not, the near-certainty of their progression is likely to dent their competitive edge just a touch. New Zealand know they couldn't hope for more favourable circumstances as they take on the group leaders.
Form guide (most recent first)New Zealand WLWWT
Watch out for...
Craig Kieswetter has been a busy second fiddle in the tournament to date. In a measure of the effectiveness of England's new-look batting line-up, his figures of 105 runs in 100 balls have come at the second-slowest strike-rate of anyone in the top six, but he's done his job admirably nonetheless, biding his time when both Michael Lumb in Guyana and Pietersen in Bridgetown were batting at full throttle. He's got his eye in now, however, and as he showed in his debut ODI series in Bangladesh, when he's gauged the conditions, he can be unstoppable.
England know all about Jesse Ryder. Until he put his arm through a toilet window on their tour of New Zealand in 2008, he was the talk of the series, as he and Brendon McCullum linked up in an irresistible partnership at the top of the ODI order. He's been his country's top-scorer in the Caribbean as well, although that's not saying much - his tally of 84 runs at 21 barely sneaks him into the tournament's top 20. But if his muscle memory serves him well, he'll recognise and enjoy the offerings of Sidebottom, Broad et al.
Ian Butler's inclusion against Pakistan proved a masterstroke, as he kept his nerve in a fraught final over to deliver victory with final figures of 3 for 19 in four overs. His pace and height proved naturally suited to the lively Barbados surface, so it will be instructive to see how the St Lucia conditions compare. But he's done more than enough to justify another appearance.
New Zealand (possible) 1 Brendon McCullum, 2 Jesse Ryder, 3 Martin Guptill, 4 Ross Taylor, 5 Scott Styris, 6 Gareth Hopkins (wk), 7 Daniel Vettori (capt), 8 Nathan McCullum, 9 Kyle Mills, 10 Ian Butler, 11 Shane Bond.
England have been unchanged throughout the tournament, but that now has to change, with their star batsman, Pietersen, returning to the UK for the birth of his son. Ravi Bopara is the natural stand-in at No. 3, while Ryan Sidebottom has cemented his place ahead of James Anderson following his three-wicket haul against South Africa.
England (probable) 1 Michael Lumb, 2 Craig Kieswetter, 3 Ravi Bopara, 4 Paul Collingwood, 5 Eoin Morgan, 6 Luke Wright, 7 Tim Bresnan, 8 Graeme Swann, 9 Michael Yardy, 10 Stuart Broad, 11 Ryan Sidebottom.
Pitch and conditions
Beausejour proved to be a high-scoring surface during the Group stages, with India tonking South Africa for 186 and Australia taking 191 off Pakistan's bowlers. Sunny conditions are forecast, albeit with the occasion threat of showers, but it looks like being another venue for winning the toss and batting.
Stats and trivia
- These two teams have previous in Beausejour, for this was the venue of their opening fixture in the 2007 World Cup. New Zealand won the contest by six wickets, but England stole the headlines, thanks to the post-match pedalo exploits of a certain Andrew Flintoff ...
- England have enjoyed the better of their meetings with New Zealand in Twenty20 cricket ... but not in the matches that matter. Despite winning three of their four encounters to date, they lost by five runs in Durban in the inaugural World Twenty20 in South Africa, a result that lifted New Zealand towards the semi-finals, and sent England towards an early exit.
Quotes"It's not all hot air and bluster. I genuinely think, for the first time looking at a team, we can actually win this."
Graeme Swann is rarely short on confidence, but he's liked what he's seen from England so far
"We knew we were a little under par but we back ourselves as a bowling and fielding unit, that has always been our strength in any form of the game."
Daniel Vettori reflects on the gritty display that earned New Zealand a vital one-run win over Pakistan.
Andrew Miller is UK editor of Cricinfo.© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.