From finding themselves deep in the dumps in the aftermath of the 2015 World Cup to being billed by plenty as favourites for the 2017 Champions Trophy, England have certainly come a long way. In what was an affirmation of their reputation, Eoin Morgan’s team began their campaign with a clinical 8-wicket triumph against Bangladesh at The Oval in the tournament opener.
They take on Kane Williamson’s Blackcaps at the Sophia Gardens in Cardiff on Tuesday. A victory over the Kiwis will help them seal a spot in the final four. Considering the fact that arch-rivals Australia will be their last opponents in Group A, they might not want to leave things that late.
This could be England’s playing eleven for their crucial clash against New Zealand.
With scores of 1, 4, 8 and 1 in his last four games, Roy is under considerable pressure to justify his place at the top of the order. Although England have alternative options in Sam Billings or even Jonny Bairstow as a makeshift choice, the 26-year-old should retain his spot for this game. However, another poor outing could go a long way in placing significant doubts over his future in the tournament.
On the other hand, Roy’s opening partner Alex Hales is coming off a powerful 86-ball 95 which he had scored during the previous game against Bangladesh. The belligerent right-hander will have his task cut out as New Zealand’s new-ball attack is on a different level to his preceding opponent. The onus should be on him to get England off to a strong start in the Power Play overs.
Root is undoubtedly the lynchpin of England’s batting lineup across all formats of the game. Averaging almost 50 in ODIs, the Yorkshireman‘s ability to control the flow of the innings augurs well for his team’s chances in the tournament. The nerveless style and sheer inevitability of his unbeaten century in the tournament opener should reiterate his position among the best in the business.
Eoin Morgan (c)
Much of England’s remarkable transformation in ODIs during the last couple of years can be attributed to Morgan’s dynamic leadership. Repaying the faith shown in him by the team management, the former Ireland international has overseen a palpable shift in the team’s approach to white-ball cricket. His own batting form in recent times has only grown from strength to strength.
Jos Buttler (wk)
Buttler is perhaps the most explosive batsman going around in the limited-overs circuit at the moment. Being a clean striker of the ball, the 26-year-old can change the tempo of the innings at any stage in the game. With the shorter straight boundaries in Cardiff providing him with an opportunity to unleash himself on the opposition bowlers, he will be itching to create an impression.
Factoring his penchant for defining knocks and prowess in breaking partnerships at key moments, Stokes is a massive asset to England’s menacing limited-overs outfit. The game-changing seam all-rounder does not back away from a confrontation as evidenced by his stand-off with Tamim Iqbal in the previous match. If the platform is set by the top-order, he could come into the equation much earlier in the piece.
Ali is the only specialist spin option in England’s preferred playing eleven. As a result, his 10 overs will be extremely crucial in breaking the monotony of pace bowling. Aside from being a tight customer in the middle-overs, he also doubles up as an elegant batsman in the lower middle-order. With the competition for batting slots quite intense, the left-hander has to bat at a position deeper than he would ideally prefer.
With his raw pace and unbridled approach, Plunkett is England’s spearhead in ODIs. The 32-year-old’s bustling length is capable of pushing even accomplished batsmen to the back foot. Apart from picking up early wickets, his accuracy will be a serious threat in the death overs.
Seeing as Jake Ball has been pretty expensive in his recent outings, Willey might usurp his place in the playing eleven. Especially with Chris Woakes out of the equation, England will need to bolster their batting depth when push comes to shove. The shorter boundaries at the venue should prevent the temptation to play leg-spinner Adil Rashid.
Touted as the ‘joker in the pack’, Wood’s exotic action and uncanny variations add firepower to the armoury. The Durham star’s career ODI average might be an abominable 49.62 but seldom do numbers reveal the complete picture.
Drafted into the squad as a replacement for the injured Woakes, Finn could get game time straight away. Even though he is stepping in for a reliable operator, the tall fast bowler brings another dimension to England’s bowling attack. With the conditions expected to reward hostile stuff, it will be interesting to see if his ability to hit the deck hard makes a discernible difference to the proceedings.