To beat a side like India, in a game as big as the semi-final of a World Cup, is something that is a huge achievement for any team. New Zealand showed some great character in the last game and held onto their nerves at the crucial junctures of the game. This lands them in yet another final of the quadrennial event and this time they’d like to go the distance.
The only other time when the Kiwis played in a World Cup final was against Australia in 2015. In front of over 93,000 audiences at the MCG, the side faltered and lost the game by 7 wickets. On this instance, though, they’d like to make amends and heal the wounds of the previous edition of the tournament as they face hosts England in another iconic cricket stadium – Lord’s.
Here is the Predicted Playing XI for New Zealand
Openers (Martin Guptill, Henry Nicholls)
It is frustrating to be Martin Guptill at the moment. The man who scored 237 runs in a single World Cup game back in 2015 hasn’t even scored as many runs in all the games combined thus far. While he has evidently put in the hard work, that hasn’t really converted into big performances on the field. The fans, though, know how dangerous a player he is and will hope that he has saved his best for the final.
Henry Nicholls will continue to open the innings with Guptill and New Zealand might not want to go back to Colin Munro at this stage. Even though Henry scored only 28 runs off 51 balls in the semi-final against India, those were testing conditions and he showed great character to see the pacers off. That knock could potentially give him some confidence ahead of this massive game.
Middle Order (Kane Williamson (c), Ross Taylor, Tom Latham (wk))
It is pretty safe to say that New Zealand has been a tad over-reliant on Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor. These two batsmen have done most of the scoring for the team in testing conditions. But nothing can get bigger than a final of a World Cup and this pressure has taken a toll on some of the legends as well in the past.
While these two will look to continue with the good work, you never know how things would actually pan out. Thus, it is important for the other batsmen to take responsibility as well. In particular, Tom Latham has got to perform better in tough situations. He has had a few troubles against the moving ball but if he does manage to deliver in this game, it will truly be folklore and one to remember for a long time.
All Rounders (James Neesham, Colin de Grandhomme, Mitchell Santner)
While it might not be as evident, the troika of the all-rounders in the New Zealand team has had a massive role in helping the team reach this stage. They have risen up to the occasion at different times in the tournament and showed great character. Either with the bat or the ball, or both at times, they’ve really made a significant contribution for the team.
Williamson has used the likes of James Neesham, Colin de Grandhomme and Mitchell Santer to great effect. While Neesham has picked up some important wickets, Santner has been highly economical. In the final, they’re required to turn up with big performances with the bat in case the requirement arises.
Bowlers (Matt Henry, Trent Boult, Lockie Ferguson)
Matt Henry had a dream outing in the last game and made the best use of the conditions. To dismiss the likes of KL Rahul, Rohit Sharma and Dinesh Karthik is quite tremendous. Henry had executed his variations with a scrambled seam to perfection. Similarly, Trent Boult did a fabulous job with the new ball. The way he set Virat Kohli up is something he wouldn’t forget any time soon.
Though, these two have got a huge challenge ahead. The English top-order is in some scintillating form. If they don’t manage to get some wickets early on as they did against India, the team will be in all sorts of trouble. Lockie Ferguson, the leading wicket-taker for New Zealand in the tournament will be the third pacer and has done a great job so far.
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