Preview: New Zealand look to secure semi-final berth against Ireland
The Kiwis started their campaign on a bright note with a massive 89-run win against defending champions and tournament hosts Australia, and followed it up with yet another big win against Sri Lanka by six wickets, with a washed-out game against Afghanistan in between.
All they needed after that was another victory to book their berth for the semi-finals but Jos Buttler's men halted their progress in a spectacular manner.
New Zealand lost by 20 runs but their big victories in the previous two matches helped them in staying at the top of the table, with a massive NRR of +2.233 to their name.
Now the situation is such that all of Australia, England and New Zealand have five points with one game to go. If all three teams end up winning their remaining encounters, it will come down to NRR to decide the two semifinalists from this group.
The Kiwis will certainly be ahead in that race owing to the massive NRR difference. What they can't afford here is a loss as that will certainly clear the path for England and Australia, provided they win their remaining matches. That's what Kane Williamson's men will look to avoid in this contest.
Ireland may be out of the semi-final race already but they have already shown that they are a force to reckon with on their day. They have already taken a giant down in this tournament as they defeated England in a rain-hit encounter and that speaks volumes of their ability as a team. New Zealand certainly can't take them lightly.
Ireland have a steady mix of youth and experience in their batting unit. Paul Stirling and Andrew Balbirnie are seasoned campaigners and they have already played a couple of good knocks in this competition.
Youngsters like Curtis Campher, Lorcan Tucker and Harry Tector have also shown what they are capable of doing. Tucker played an excellent hand of 71* against Australia, albeit in a losing cause, but he impressed everyone with his composure and stroke play.
The bowling attack is also one to fear. Josh Little has been a wicket-taking threat throughout this tournament, whereas Barry McCarthy has kept contributing silently from the other end as well.
Mark Adair's exploits with the new ball are also well-known and Campher is also more than capable of chipping in with a few economical overs. That's why they will look to kill the game early.
Ireland's only weak point is probably their spin attack, which doesn't inspire confidence. New Zealand, on the other hand, have often collapsed against quality spin attacks before and Andrew Balbirnie will certainly miss a quality spinner in his ranks for this contest.
With New Zealand, they need to put the disappointment of their loss to England behind and focus on this contest. They have a well-balanced team with in-form batters like Devon Conway and Glenn Phillips, and bowlers like Trent Boult and Lockie Ferguson, who have also been at the top of their game.
They are a quality side and are far more experienced in big games than Ireland. All they need to do now is keep their composure in this crucial match. If they can do that, other things will fall into place on their own.
Predicted Playing XIs
Finn Allen, Devon Conway (wk), Kane Williamson (c), Glenn Phillips, Daryl Mitchell, James Neesham, Mitchell Santner, Tim Southee, Ish Sodhi, Lockie Ferguson, Trent Boult
Paul Stirling, Andrew Balbirnie (c), Lorcan Tucker (wk), Harry Tector, Curtis Campher, George Dockrell, Gareth Delany, Mark Adair, Barry McCarthy, Fionn Hand, Joshua Little
Glenn Phillips: The middle-order batter has been in superb form. Phillips scored a match-winning century against Sri Lanka and followed that up with another excellent knock of 62 from 36 deliveries against England. He has been brilliant in a very tough middle-order role and will be the key to New Zealand's success in this contest once again.
Josh Little: The left-arm pacer is Ireland's highest wicket-taker in this T20 World Cup. Little has claimed eight wickets so far, at an excellent strike rate of 17.2 and he has maintained a pretty good economy rate of 7.26 to go with that as well. He has bowled equally well in all phases of the innings and will be looking to deliver another good performance against the Kiwis.
Dream11 Fantasy Picks
Captaincy Pick: Glenn Phillips
Glenn Phillips has scores of 104 and 62 to his name in the last two matches. He has the ability to finish the matches for his side and can wreak havoc on any bowler on a given day. Notably, the 25-year-old has played three matches against Ireland, scoring 148 runs at an average of 148 and a strike rate of 132.14. Phillips’ highest score against Ireland is an unbeaten 69, which came in Belfast earlier this year. He has played 52 T20Is and has amassed 1272 T20I runs at a strike rate of 147.56.
Must-have Pick: Trent Boult
Trent Boult has bowled phenomenally well in this T20 World Cup. The New Zealand quick has picked six wickets in three matches at a superb average of 12.83 and an outstanding strike rate of 6.41. He helped his team defend 168 against Sri Lanka by taking as many as four wickets while giving away just 13 runs in his four overs.
The left-arm pacer has not played a single T20I match against Ireland till date, and he would look to surprise the lower-ranked opposition in his first meeting with them. Overall, the 33-year-old has played 53 T20I matches and grabbed 72 wickets at an average of 21.88 and an economy rate of 7.82.
Differential Pick: Harry Tector
Ireland batter Harry Tector might have scored 66 runs in this T20 World Cup but underestimating him could be a big error for any opposition. After scoring 45 runs against Sri Lanka, the 22-year-old has registered scores of 0 and 6 against England and Australia respectively.
In three T20I matches against New Zealand till date, the right-hand batter has managed to score only 30 runs at an average of 10 and a strike rate of 100. But Tector has scored 440 runs at an average of 24.11 and a strike rate of 125.76 since the start of 2022. The player, who scored 103 runs at a strike rate of 168.85 in two matches against India in June, has all the capability in the world to change the course of a match on his own. Having him as your ‘differential pick’ can be a very wise decision.
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