England versus New Zealand will indeed ring bells for a long time in whichever format of the game the two sides lock horns. In what turned out to be the most dramatic ICC final ever witnessed, the two teams gave everything they had for the coveted World Cup trophy.
The pain and the agony of losing out on a maiden fifty-over World Cup may still be fresh in the Kiwi players’ minds. However, the first of the five T20I games beginning on Friday is a starting point for both the sides for the T20 World Cup and a chance to start afresh to put their focus on the shortest format.
The visitors have roped in a bunch of new faces, resting their regular white-ball picks after a taxing summer involving the Ashes and the World Cup. They have picked the candidates who impressed in their domestic T20 competition. The five-match series would be their best chance to lock their places for the upcoming T20 assignments before the first-choice players are back in the fold.
In contrast, New Zealand have gathered their full-strength team to take on England. Except for Kane Williamson who is set to miss the entire T20I leg, owing to a hip injury and Trent Boult, who will join the team after the first three games replacing Lockie Ferguson.
The English camp has confirmed debuts for uncapped seam bowler Patrick Brown and bowling all-rounder Sam Curran. Tom Banton, who finished the domestic T20 competition as the second-highest run-getter is likely to miss out. Dawid Malan is expected to open the innings along with Jonny Bairstow.
Having hurt his ankle while fielding practice, Joe Denly has been ruled out of the first game. Uncapped all-rounder Lewis Gregory is likely to make his debut, taking Denly’s spot.
Probable XI: Jonny Bairstow (WK), Dawid Malan, James Vince, Eoin Morgan (C), Lewis Gregory, Sam Billings, Tom Curran, Sam Curran, Chris Jordan, Adil Rashid, Patrick Brown.
Colin Munro, who smashed a hundred in the second warm-up game against England will partner Martin Guptill at the top. Another explosive batsman in Tim Seifert followed by the powerhouses in Daryl Mitchell, Ross Taylor, Colin de Grandhomme, and James Neesham make up a settled batting order for the hosts.
Lockie Ferguson, who missed the Sri Lanka series due to a thumb injury should take the new ball alongside skipper Tim Southee. The spin-bowling combination should consist of Ish Sodhi and Mitchell Santner.
Probable XI: Martin Guptill, Colin Munro, Tim Seifert (WK), Ross Taylor, Daryl Mitchell, James Neesham, Colin de Grandhomme, Mitchell Santner, Tim Southee, Lockie Ferguson, Ish Sodhi.
Focus will be on
Jonny Bairstow (England)
Jonny Bairstow may have been dumped from the England Test team; however, he remains a stalwart in their limited-overs plans. He crunched a glorious fifty in the first warm-up game against the NZ XI, signalling that in the absence of Jason Roy and Jos Buttler, he will be the dangerman at the top of the order.
Lockie Ferguson (New Zealand)
Ferguson has been long-viewed as the leader of the New Zealand bowling attack. His recovery from thumb injury is an immense blessing, and the hosts would be hoping he picks up from where he left to support his new-ball partner, Tim Southee.
Head to Head
Matches played – 16, New Zealand won – 5, England won – 10, No result – 1
1810 – Eoin Morgan is 190 runs away from completing 2000 runs in 20 International cricket and can reach the milestone at some stage during the series.
TV – Star Sports
Live streaming – Hotstar
Match Timings – 2:00 pm local time; 6:30 am IST
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