With seven wickets in hand and 27 balls remaining against England, New Zealand were 54 runs away from sealing a semi-final spot. But New Zealand lost, and that complicates things before their final Group 1 game against an unpredictable Ireland. One more defeat, and a window opens up for both England and Australia to sneak past them into the final four.
The first time they had to go against that template, against England, their bowlers struggled early and their batters appeared to succumb to the pressure of the required rate.
Ireland LWLWW (Last five completed matches; most recent first)
New Zealand LWWLW
In the spotlight
New Zealand’s top three have all struggled in recent games. Devon Conway has 96 runs all tournament with 92 of them coming in one innings, Finn Allen has fallen off after blasting a 16-ball 42 against Australia, and the No. 3 Kane Williamson has scored his runs at less than a run a ball. They’ve been helped by Glenn Phillips stepping up with 178 runs in four innings, but the top three will not want to rely on the batters who follow them in this potential banana-peel fixture.
Wickets have been hard to come by for Ireland’s fast bowlers, barring Josh Little. Barry McCarthy and Curtis Campher have averaged in the high 30s, while Mark Adair has gone wicketless in his last four games, getting carted for 59 in his four overs in the most recent of them, against Australia. They now have one last chance to make an impact on this tournament.
Ireland have three unused players in the squad: uncapped opener Stephen Doheny and fast bowlers Graham Hume and Conor Olphert. While Doheny might not find a place at the top, Ireland wouldn’t mind giving a chance to one of the seamers given the current group’s indifferent returns.
Ireland (probable): 1 Paul Stirling, 2 Andy Balbirnie (capt), 3 Lorcan Tucker (wk), 4 Harry Tector, 5 Curtis Campher, 6 George Dockrell, 7 Gareth Delany, 8 Mark Adair/Graham Hume, 9 Fionn Hand, 10 Barry McCarthy/Conor Olphert, 11 Josh Little.
New Zealand have used only 12 players in this World Cup, with a fit-again Daryl Mitchell taking the place of Mark Chapman after the first game. Fresh injuries aside, they are likely to field the same XI.
New Zealand (probable): 1 Finn Allen, 2 Devon Conway (wk), 3 Kane Williamson (capt), 4 Glenn Phillips, 5 Daryl Mitchell, 6 James Neesham, 7 Mitchell Santner, 8 Tim Southee, 9 Ish Sodhi, 10 Trent Boult, 11 Lockie Ferguson.
Pitch and conditions
The weather is expected to be pleasant, with no rain forecast in Adelaide on Friday. Given the long straight boundaries and short square boundaries at the venue, expect the bowlers to stay away from the shorter lengths.