Former Indian captain Sunil Gavaskar believes that the England vs New Zealand which makes up for the first semi-final of the T20 World Cup could be the best game to watch for in the tournament ahead of the India vs Pakistan clash. The two teams re-unite after their epic 2019 World Cup final, where New Zealand lost on boundary count, having tied the Super Over at Lord’s.The winner will face either Pakistan or Australia, who play on Thursday, in Sunday’s final in Dubai.
Former Indian captain Sunil Gavaskar hailed England’s approach and in his column said that Eoin Morgan’s side had played some incredible cricket in the shorter formats of the game for the past six years. Gavaskar wrote, “Jos Buttler, Jonny Bairstow, Liam Livingstone can clobber the ball miles and when he is on song the captain Morgan makes spectators in the stands wish they had worn helmets too. Morgan the batsman has not really been needed by England so far, as Morgan the captain has shown why he is one of the best in the business. His marshalling of bowlers and spot-on field placements have ensured that the opposition batters have not got away.”
As for New Zealand, Sunil Gavaskar said that the team mirrored Kane Williamson in their demeanour. Gavaskar wrote, “New Zealand lost that game (2019 WC final) but won the hearts of cricket lovers across the world with the way they accepted that loss. They then made up for that defeat by winning the first-ever World Test Championship and now give themselves a chance to add the T20 trophy to their cabinet. It could well be the best game of the tournament. Sadly one of them has to lose.”
Gavaskar’s comments come in after the India vs Pakistan game was the most watched game of the T20 World Cup. The previous record was for the semi-final between India and the West Indies, which was played in Mubai in 2016.
“The India-Pakistan match has created history by clocking a record reach of 167 million viewers, making it the most viewed T20I match till date. We have continually strived to grow the audience base for marquee Cricket and this record is a testament to our efforts across high-decibel campaigns, enhanced storytelling, dedicated regional programming, and consumer innovations,” said a Star India spokesperson in a statement.
England were dealt a major blow in their final league game as Jason Roy has now been ruled out of the tournament, while James Vince has been confirmed as his replacement, Eoin Morgan will have to popnder over who replaces the swashbuckling opener in the XI, with Vince, Sam Billings and David Willey all making a case. Reece Topley or Tom Curran could also be in the mix, should they feel comfortable promoting Chris Woakes to No.7.
As New Zealand, while toss will be key and whether they bat or bowl first, Kane Williamson will be hoping fast bowlers Trent Boult and Tim Southee can strike in the first six overs to expose an England middle order that has barely been tested in the tournament so far. Roy and Jos Buttler have scored bulk of the runs for the 2016 finalists, while Morgan, Liam Livingstone and Moeen Ali have only had to chip in with cameos.
“We’ve played each other a number of times. We’ve had some really good games in really good series. The evolution of the England side and particularly the white-ball sides has been significant over a number of years. As a collective, they’re playing some really good cricket. We know it’s a nice challenge that we’re looking forward to, “ said New Zealand captain Williamson ahead of the T20 World Cup semi-final.