Jonny Bairstow
Jonny Bairstow Image Credit: AP

England started as one of the favourites in the T20 World Cup and they did justice to that tag by winning their first four games convincingly against West Indies, Bangladesh, Australia and Sri Lanka. In their last outing they not only lost to South Africa in Sharjah but also lost a key player in Jason Roy, who suffered a calf injury and was ruled out of the tournament.

Both Roy and Jos Buttler were giving England the perfect start in every game and Roy’s injury will definitely hit England hard.

Butler’s new partner could be Jonny Bairstow, who is equally destructive but so far has had a disappointing event with scores of 9, 8, 16, 0 and 1.

Bairstow was coming in at No 4 but this change of batting order might help him regain his confidence and would fill the gap of Roy. In the previous match against Sri Lanka, England also lost Tymal Mills due to a thigh strain, who was very good for England in the death overs with his slower balls and off cutters, which the batsman couldn’t pick easily.

Eoin Morgan, who has led England well so far, also is not in prime form with only one significant score of 40 coming against Sri Lanka and would like to lead from the front with the bat in this knockout clash. But he will be against a clinical New Zealand side, who have quietly gone about their business of reaching the semi-finals after the early loss to Pakistan and every player has contributed in their win.

New Zealand players will definitely have the scars of the 2019 heart-breaking loss to England at Lord’s in the 50-over World Cup final and they would definitely like to put that behind by putting up a clinical performance against England, who also had the better of them in the 2016 Twenty20 World Cup semi-finals played in India where they were comfortably beaten by England.

Whether they would be able to do that in Abu Dhabi Cricket Stadium today, only time will tell but I can say one thing for sure, England don’t go into this game as clear favourites as it was on the beginning of the tournament. They will have to play out of their skins to get past the Kiwis, who time and again have surprised many opponents, no one knows better than team India.

Anis Sajan is a cricket enthusiast and Vice-Chairman of Danube Group.