England cricket team. Pic: Getty Images
The Englishmen ended their Super 12 campaign with a slender 10-run defeat to South Africa. However, despite finishing on the same number of points as Australia and the Proteas, they topped Group 1 with a superior net run rate.
Eoin Morgan’s men will go into the semis with the edge. Barring the last game against South Africa, they were absolutely dominant in the Super 12 round.
Beginning their campaign with a crushing win over defending champions West Indies, they went on to register comprehensive victories over Bangladesh and Australia. They were challenged by Sri Lanka but Jos Buttler’s maiden T20I hundred made the difference.
3 areas England need to be wary of
As England prepare to take on New Zealand in the first semi-final on Wednesday, we look at three weak areas that could hurt them in the knockout clash.
#1 Opening rejig in the absence of Jason Roy
Jason Roy has been ruled out of the T20 World Cup 2021. Pic: Getty Images
England received a massive setback ahead of the T20 World Cup 2021 semi-final as opener Jason Roy limped off the field against South Africa. He has been ruled out of the remainder of the tournament, with James Vince being named as his replacement.
Roy’s presence at the top of the batting order matters a lot to England. Although he scored only one half-century, he got the team off to a bright start in a couple of games, including the match against South Africa.
What Roy does with his swift hitting at the top is ease the pressure off Jos Buttler, who usually takes a few balls before opening up.
The injury to Roy has thrown England’s plans out of gear to an extent. They will need to go in with a new opening pair for the big match against New Zealand, who are waiting to pounce on any opportunity that comes their way.
It is not an ideal situation for England and Buttler heading into the knockout clash. How they deal with it could have a significant impact on the eventual outcome of the semi-final.
#2 Death-overs bowling
Chris Woakes was taken apart by South Africa. Pic: Getty Images
The loss to South Africa exposed England’s problems with the ball at the death. Chris Woakes and Mark Wood, who are reasonably experienced but, perhaps, lack the late-overs skills in the T20 format, went for plenty. Even Chris Jodran, known as England’s death-overs specialist conceded a few more than expected of him.
There was no dew hindrance for England’s pacers against South Africa, yet Rassie van der Dussen and Aiden Markram pummeled the bowling in the last five overs. New Zealand have decent hitters in their middle and lower-order and could hurt England.
England’s left-arm seamer Tymal Mills, who was picked owing to his ability to get the ball in the block hole during the end overs, unfortunately got injured and has also been ruled out. However, he too was taken for 45 in a low-scoring encounter against Australia.
England cannot afford to slip towards the end with the ball. That was their biggest takeaway from the loss to South Africa which, thankfully for Morgan and co., came too late to affect their fortunes in the T20 World Cup 2021.
#3 Trouble against spinners
Ish Sodhi could trouble England’s batters. Pic: Getty Images
Even without Jason Roy, England have an imposing batting line-up. However, while they have been brilliant against pace bowling, the same cannot be said about their performance against slow bowling. With the exception of Buttler, spin has definitely troubled England’s batters.
Although they bundled out West Indies for 55 in their T20 World Cup 2021 opener, England themselves lost four wickets in the chase, two of them to left-arm spinner Akeal Hosein. The Three Lions batters did not look comfortable at all against the 28-year-old.
Sri Lankan leg-spinner Wanindu Hasaranga also put England in big trouble with early scalps. But for Buttler’s hundred, the result of the Sri Lanka-England clash could have been different. Shifting focus to England’s last Super 12 game against South Africa, left-arm spinner Tabraiz Shamsi outfoxed Jonny Bairstow and Moeen Ali.
New Zealand have a quality leg-spinner in the experienced Ish Sodhi. Considering England’s struggles against slow bowling, he could have a significant role to play in the semi-finals.