Morgan vs Williamson
Eoin Morgan and Kane Williamson both have the chance to become national heroes by leading their teams to World Cup glory for the first time. England have enjoyed a dramatic revival in fortunes since their limp first-round exit in 2015 with Morgan at the helm, infusing his side with a fearless approach.
The 32-year-old batsman, who scored an unbeaten 45 in the hosts’ humbling of Australia on Thursday, has urged his side to seize their moment. “I think Sunday’s not a day to shy away from, it’s a day to look forward to,” he said.
Williamson, whose team lost heavily to England in the group stage, tried to keep his players calm after New Zealand’s stunning victory over India in the first semi-final on Wednesday. “Anybody can beat anybody,” he said. “It’s important that feet are on the ground and we look forward to that challenge.”
With two centuries and two fifties in his eight innings, Williamson has led by example with his elegant batting and sharp reading of the game.
Batting great Sachin Tendulkar said Williamson’s ‘captaincy and composure’ played a key part in the victory over India.
Roy vs Guptill
Jason Roy set the tone as England tore into the Australian bowling with relish on Thursday, dominating an opening stand of 124 with in-form partner Jonny Bairstow.
Roy, who has been involved in four successive century partnerships with Bairstow, missed three league-round games due to a hamstring injury. England have won all three of their matches comfortably since his return to the side and he averages an impressive 71 at the tournament.
New Zealand’s Martin Guptill has struggled badly, eking out just 167 runs in nine innings, a sharp contrast from 2015, when he finished as the top run-scorer in the tournament, hitting an unbeaten 237 against the West Indies.
He has proved his prowess in the field, hitting the stumps with a direct throw to run out India’s M.S. Dhoni in the semi-final but New Zealand desperately need his runs at the top of the order on Sunday.
Henry vs Woakes
Matt Henry destroyed India’s illustrious top order in a ferocious opening spell of fast bowling on Wednesday and a repeat performance would set New Zealand on the way to their first World Cup triumph.
His figures of 3-37 included the key wicket of Rohit Sharma and, sharing the new ball with senior partner Trent Boult, the paceman has now claimed 13 wickets in eight games.
Chris Woakes was England’s star performer at Edgbaston as he dismantled the Australia top-order including taking the big wicket of David Warner to return figures of 3-20.
He has combined with Jofra Archer to give the England pace attack a sharper edge, with the new-ball pair claiming a combined 32 wickets together in 10 matches.
Published in Dawn, July 14th, 2019