World Cup: The English challenge for Kane and Co.

While a loss won’t rule out either of the teams from the semifinal race, the losing teams will have to depend on favourable results from the other games to sneak into the knockouts.

New Zealand captain Kane Williamson preparing for the net session at the Emirates Riverside Ground in Durham on Tuesday.   -  Getty Images

 

On Tuesday morning, English cricket fans and students from nearby universities lined up at the Riverside ground to buy tickets for Wednesday’s crucial World Cup fixture between England and New Zealand — a virtual quarterfinal clash.

While England defeated India in its last fixture, New Zealand suffered back-to-back losses against Pakistan and Australia to find itself in a spot of bother.

After a bright start, England suddenly found itself in a fix as it lost to Sri Lanka and Australia, but a 31-run win against India on Sunday revived its campaign.

While a loss won’t rule out either of the teams from the semifinal race, the losing teams will have to depend on favourable results from the other games to sneak into the knockouts.

New Zealand fast bowler Trent Boult in action at the nets.   -  GETTY IMAGES

 

The return of Jason Roy — after nursing a hamstring injury — had a big impact on England. He resumed his imperious opening partnership with Jonny Bairstow against India and added 160 runs for the opening wicket.

Against a tough New Zealand side, England needs to play with similar intensity. While the focus will be on the openers, the middle-order also needs to be steady.

For New Zealand, it will be important to fix the opening woes. The seasoned Martin Guptill has looked off-colour, adding pressure on captain Kane Williamson and the middle-order. On a surface which could aid the batsmen, Guptill — who batted at the nets for long — will be keen to strike form.

Martin Guptill.   -  GETTY IMAGES

 

Both the sides are well-balanced in their respective bowling departments. England will rely on local boy Mark Wood to reap benefits in home conditions. The Kiwis will have their hopes pinned on Lockie Ferguson and the experienced Trent Boult, who took a hat-trick against Australia.

The weather is likely to be partially cloudy but there is no prediction of rain.

England captain Eoin Morgan addresses the media at the Riverside Ground on Tuesday.   -  REUTERS

 

The England fans expect their team to shine bright. They have held on to their dreams of bringing the Cup home for the first time. Most of the hotels in the quaint town of Durham are packed. There is huge demand for tickets and you have to wait for really long to get into a train due to the sudden rise in bookings.

  Dugout videos