Ben Jones analyses the key head-to-heads for Sunday’s clash.
This has been a tournament where the performance of the top order in the first innings has been enormously influential. In games where the side batting first has won, their opening partnership have averaged 71.17; in games where they have lost, it’s averaged 16.93. Scores have been comparatively low, given what we’ve come to expect in English ODIs over the last four years, and games have had a more traditional feel to them.
As such, Sunday’s final is likely to be won in the battle between the top order and the new ball bowlers. With that in mind, here are the key head-to-heads we can expect to see decide the destination of the World Cup.
CHRIS WOAKES v MARTIN GUPTILL
Woakes has dismissed Guptill four times in ODI cricket, from just 115 balls, at an average of just 24. Generally, the English seamer has looked to keep a very tight line to the Black Caps opener, offering him very little width. This has brought two results, the first being that two of those wickets have come to balls in line (or almost) with the stumps, and the second being that his widest ball also brought a wicket, as Guptill looked to make the most of a rare gift. Guptill has had a poor tournament, but he’s still the most potentially destructive player in the New Zealand line-up, and Woakes will feel he needs to be at his best to get him early – but his confidence will be raised knowing he already has a plan.
TRENT BOULT v JOE ROOT
The New Zealand left-armer has dismissed Root three times in 94 balls, at an average of 28.33. Only one of those has been the classic in-swinger to the right-hander, a loose ball outside off and a strangle down the legside. Whilst Root’s scoring rate of 5.4rpo against Boult suggests he’s not getting tied down, the psychological boost for the Kiwi seamer is obvious.
TRENT BOULT v JASON ROY
Roy’s swaggering innings against Australia was when the party started for England, but it was his first ball in international cricket when the renaissance really started. He threw his hands at a wide one from Boult, and was caught at backward point – symbolic at the time, but more concerning now. Roy’s record against Boult hasn’t improved since then particularly, with three dismissals from 72 balls at an average of 18.
ADIL RASHID v KANE WILLIAMSON
Not strictly a new ball battle, but one of England’s key attacking weapons does not have good history with New Zealand’s skipper. Williamson is currently 164 (130) against Rashid, only once dismissed. Whilst some of those encounters took place at the very start of Rashid’s ODI career, when he was still learning his craft, that is a concern for England’s hierarchy. They need a way to break the game open if Williamson gets in, and Rashid is normally their trump card.
BEN STOKES V ROSS TAYLOR
Taylor has bossed spin for four years now, averaging 83.31 against it, albeit only scoring at 4.57rpo. England need to attack him with pac, and they need to pitch it up; against short balls since the last World Cup he averages 110, but only 29 against full balls. Woakes is probably England’s most natural pitch it up bowler, especially with the new ball; if Morgan’s side can get him in early, then they’ll look to dismiss him with full deliveries. Ben Stokes has been England’s fullest bowler in this World Cup, bowling 26% of his deliveries pitch up – he could be the man to target Taylor’s weakness.
Ben Jones is an analyst at CricViz.