England and New Zealand’s last meeting in this format was an instant classic, a slow-burning epic which saw England’s World Cup hopes go up in flames.
Just short of a year on, England will be staring elimination in the face once again, unless they can overcome one of the tournament’s two unbeaten sides at the Gabba. They would still be alive mathematically with a defeat on Tuesday night, but will be relying on Afghanistan beating Australia on Friday, before having to overcome Sri Lanka in their final fixture in Sydney. In short, this is a must-win.
New Zealand have been hugely impressive in brushing Australia and Sri Lanka aside, and victory in Brisbane would seal for them a semi-final berth for the third successive T20 World Cup. Moreover, given their net run rate, they will be close to locking in the top spot. New Zealand will still be well-placed even if they lose, though they would likely need to beat Ireland in Adelaide on Friday to ensure their progress.
England’s seamers were excellent with the new ball against Afghanistan but were wayward against Ireland; they conceded 59 runs in the first six overs, with Chris Woakes coming in for particularly brutal treatment. Finn Allen is the key wicket: New Zealand blitzed 65 for 1 against Australia when he raced out of the blocks but stumbled to 25 for 3 against Sri Lanka after he fell early on.
England LWWWW(Last five completed matches, most recent first)
New Zealand WWLLW
In the spotlight
“The one person that you want in your team when the pressure is on is Ben Stokes,” Paul Collingwood, England’s assistant coach, said on Monday. Stokes has managed only 41 runs off 42 balls in his five T20Is since arriving in Australia, and for all his quality as a bowler, fielder and leader, now is the time for him to turn the intangibles into game-defining contributions.
England’s selection came under scrutiny after their defeat to Ireland but they were due to play an unchanged team against Australia before the game was washed out. As a result, it seems unlikely they will make changes barring a late injury, though Liam Livingstone and Moeen Ali could be shuffled up the order after limited opportunities so far in this tournament. Stokes has hardly trained, but has been declared fully fit.
England (probable): 1 Jos Buttler (capt, wk), 2 Alex Hales, 3 Dawid Malan, 4 Ben Stokes, 5 Liam Livingstone, 6 Moeen Ali, 7 Harry Brook, 8 Sam Curran, 9 Chris Woakes, 10 Mark Wood, 11 Adil Rashid
New Zealand (probable): 1 Finn Allen, 2 Devon Conway (wk), 3 Kane Williamson, 4 Glenn Phillips, 5 Daryl Mitchell, 6 James Neesham, 7 Michael Bracewell/Mitchell Santner, 8 Tim Southee, 9 Ish Sodhi, 10 Trent Boult, 11 Lockie Ferguson
Pitch and conditions
David Hussey describes the Gabba as “probably the best batting pitch in Australia for white-ball cricket”, and the numbers back that up: the average scoring rate there in men’s T20Is is 7.94 per over, the second-highest of any Australian ground. The pitch was on the slow side in Australia’s win against Ireland on Monday, and the same strip will be used on Tuesday, which could bring spinners into play.
Bad weather has followed England around over the last week, and the forecast for the match is not the best either, with rain due to fall throughout Tuesday morning. However, the weather is expected to clear up later in the day, and the Gabba’s renowned underground drainage system could ensure the teams get on to the pitch.
“It’s frustrating when you’ve got the rain around in Melbourne: it was almost like English conditions there. It’s nice to come up to Brisbane where it’s a lot warmer, and we’re all looking forward to getting a full 40 overs in.”
Paul Collingwood is hoping for a dry evening at the Gabba after the washout against Australia at the MCG
“Our brand of cricket might not look as aggressive as them, but we need to stick to what we have done well for a period of time, and make sure we throw our own punches in our own way.”
Lockie Ferguson doesn’t expect New Zealand to make any major adjustments to their style of play against England
Matt Roller is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @mroller98