Semifinal 1 – 7:00pm local time on Wednesday (12.30am AEST, Thursday), March 30, 2016 at Feroz Shah Kotla, Delhi
$2 at William Hill
Group 1 result: Runner-up
Win-loss record: 3-1
$1.80 at CrownBet.com
Group 2 result: Winner
Win-loss record: 4-0
THERE’S more than a tinge of deja vu about New Zealand’s run to the 2016 World Twenty20 semifinals.
Last year they went 6-0 in the group phase before dispatching the West Indies and South Africa en route to the 50-over Cricket World Cup final.
Now, after executing a clinical clean sweep in the Super 10 round, the Kiwis have their sights set on a second title fight in the space of just over 12 months.
They were comfortably the best team in Group 2, outshining India and Australia – the joint pre-tournament favourites – to top the pops with a perfect return of eight points from four games.
But whereas the seam-up skills of Trent Boult and Tim Southee fuelled their run at the 2015 World Cup, it is New Zealand’s spinners who have stunned the competition at India 2016.
Young tweakers Mitchell Santner and Ish Sodhi have combined for 17 wickets at a combined strike rate of 10.8, while the experienced Nathan McCullum (three wickets at 10.0) has also proved an economical threat in his two appearances.
Boult and Southee have yet to even bowl a ball in anger, with Mitchell McClenaghan and Adam Milne preferred for their extra pace and variety.
But Kane Williamson has not forgotten his sidelined seamers, insisting they will be in the mix for selection depending on pitch conditions at the Kotla.
“They’re world-class bowlers,” the New Zealand captain told reporters following the win over Bangladesh on Saturday.
“Some of the wickets we’ve been on have been certainly conducive to the slower bowlers and they [Boult and Southee] have been brilliant on the sidelines, giving a lot.
“That’s a big part of this team, constantly giving whether you’re playing or not.
“We’ll have to see what we come up against in Delhi and pick horses for courses again.”
Whoever gets the nod for Wednesday’s semifinal will have to tame an England outfit which has played with refreshing abandon.
Joe Root has been a revelation in the 20-over game, while the likes of Jason Roy, Jos Buttler, Moeen Ali and Eoin Morgan have all played with power and purpose.
And there is yet plenty of upside in that batting lineup, as we haven’t seen anything like the best of Alex Hales – England’s top batsman in the ICC Twenty20 player rankings.
The 2010 champions have drawn many admirers, with some pundits going as far as to tip Morgan’s men to take home the trophy.
Among those is Kevin Pietersen, who thinks England’s strength with the willow in hand gives them a red-hot chance of becoming the first nation to win two World Twenty20 titles.
“England can win it simply because their batting is so strong,” Pietersen wrote in a column for The Sun.
“If they bat first, they have the power to set a huge total but have to believe they can chase down any score if they bowl first.
“I just hope they do not give it away by playing stupid English cricket from the past. All they have to think about is smashing the ball with the bat, and bowling as quickly and cleverly as they can.”
While the Black Caps are favourites to reach the final, they have yet to play a single game at Delhi’s Feroz Shah Kotla in Twenty20 World Cup 2016.
On the other hand, the clash on Wednesday will be England’s third consecutive match in the Indian capital territory – a fact which was not lost on Ben Stokes.
“New Zealand are the form team, but we can give any team a good run,” the Kiwi-born allrounder told the press this week.
“This is our third game at this ground, so you could say it’s like a home game, even though it’s in India.”
Martin Guptill betting markets
Many thought the New Zealand top order would fall to pieces in the wake of Brendon McCullum’s retirement, but Martin Guptill didn’t get the memo.
The top runscorer at the 2015 World Cup has picked up where he left off a year ago, smashing 125 runs at a blistering 163.33 strike rate in his three appearances in the group stage.
He was brutal against Pakistan as the Kiwis secured their semifinal spot, blasting three sixes and 10 boundaries on his way to a 48-ball 80.
More of the same will put NZ in the box seat to reach the Twenty20 World Cup final for the first time.
Man of the match – $10
NZ win/Guptill top score – $6.50
Top match batsman – $6.50
To score 50 – $4.65
Top New Zealand batsman – $4
Over 27.5 runs – $2.32
Under 15.5 runs – $2.28
Odds provided by www.Sportsbet.com
Ben Stokes T20 value bets
As an England player who spent the first 12 years of his life in New Zealand, it’s no surprise to see Stokes feature heavily in the pre-match press.
On paper, his efforts in the Super 10 round weren’t much to write home about. Four games for 43 runs and one wicket are hardly Bothamesque returns.
What those numbers don’t tell you is that Stokes, even at the tender age of 24, is a match-winner who deals in clutch moments on the big stage.
Alongside the imperious Root, he is that X-man who can drag England over the line with crucial runs, wickets, a sharp catch, a miraculous runout, or all of the above.
Top match batsman – $51
England win/Stokes top score – $23
Man of the match – $15
Top England runscorer – $13
Top England wicket-taker – $5.50
Odds provided by www.Sportsbet.com
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