England should kiss the stick first before facing ‘ridiculous’ New Zealand | T20 World Cup 2022

Storm clouds continue to gather around England. After escaping Melbourne’s daily drizzle for sunnier Queensland, in an otherwise dreamy week, the forecast for Brisbane on Tuesday – the day of their crucial T20 Super 12 World Cup game against New Zealand – is absolutely dirty. . The hope is that, as expected, the clouds will lift by mid-afternoon and player performance levels will rise with them.

England struggled for much of their first two games, and probably the only players who can claim to have played well in both games are Moeen Ali and Liam Livingstone. Like the Australian sun, however, they hardly had time to shine, facing 22 and 23 balls respectively. England is determined to use them less sparingly in the future.

New Zealand, meanwhile, cruised through their first two completed matches, beating Australia and Sri Lanka, the perennial underdogs once again scoffing at widespread pre-tournament pessimism. “They look ridiculous,” England’s Harry Brook said on Sunday. “They look, to me, probably the favorites of the moment.”

In each of the Kiwis’ wins, a batter — Devon Conway in the first, Glenn Phillips in the second — faced about half the balls in their innings, scored at about 1.6 runs per ball, and anchored the team to a total decent. At that point, Trent Boult and Tim Southee swung into action: they went 4.62 and 2.91 runs per over respectively and took 10 wickets between them. The combination was something in the region of T20 perfection.

On both occasions New Zealand struck first, and their success after setting totals reflects a significant change between this World Cup and the last. It didn’t take long for the teams to get on board: the captains chose to beat first only 13 times in the United Arab Emirates last year, compared to 17 times already this year – including the three meetings of sunday.

This phenomenon has hit England early, and they have beaten the frontrunners in eight of their 11 wins in this format in 2022, up from three of 11 last year. But despite this, of the six occasions Jos Buttler has won the toss, he has only chosen to strike first once. As with their foot chase against Ireland – Brook remarkably admitted on Sunday that, with England trailing DLS, rain clouds gathering and rain forecast, he was “just trying to deepen” – sometimes it seems like the truth can be a bit slow to dawn on this side.

Aaron Finch, whose Australian side will face Ireland on Monday, said: “What we’ve seen here is if you can put enough pressure on, if you can get a decent enough total and force teams to going hard against a quality bowling offense with a bit of movement is really tough. As a second batter you tend to finish your innings. Hit first you can probably be a little freer.

It’s a fascinating trend, upending the T20 orthodoxy that suggests knowing your target is a big plus. But the teams beating first had mixed results on Sunday, with the Netherlands notably failing to capitalize – mainly because they scored just 91 for 9, a tally Pakistan reached with more than six overs to spare.

Meanwhile Zimbabwe, surprise winners Pakistan in Perth last week, failed to chase down Bangladesh’s 150 tally despite late drama: Blessing Muzarabani had to score five on the final ball to win it for the Zimbabwe and missed it completely but Bangladesh wicket keeper Nurul Hasan got it back before it reached the stumps so it was declared a draw and Muzarabani got a second chance, this time n ‘needing only four. He missed that too.

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