England vs New Zealand may not be the World Cup final everyone imagined when the tournament kicked off at The Oval on May 30th, but no one would begrudge the two teams their day out in the sun — if the weather staus clear — at Lord's on Sunday. New Zealand will be hoping to go one better than last time, when they lost in the final to Australia. England have made the World Cup final three times, and ended up as the losing side on all occasions.
Following a wobble against Pakistan, the hosts trashed Bangladesh by runs on Saturday to move up to second place in the standings.
The only minor blot in England's copybook at the weekend was Jos Buttler's injury, which forced the year-old to hand his wicket-keeping gloves to Jonny Bairstow. Buttler, however, should take his spot as usual on Friday.
The West Indies, meanwhile, were left frustrated as rain caused their game against South Africa on Monday to be canceled after the Proteas had lost two early wickets.
The washout meant both teams were awarded a point, which was enough to lift the West Indies into sixth place on the table and keep them in contention for a semifinal spot.
Things could have been even better for the Windies, who thrashed Pakistan but then let the chance of beating Australia slip through their fingers.
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However, bookmakers expect England to have the edge in Southampton. The former followed scores of 54 and 8 in the first two matches with against Bangladesh, when Bairstow notched his first half-century of the tournament.
As far as the West Indies are concerned, Chris Gayle is yet to hit top gear. A 50 against Pakistan was followed by a meager 21 against Australia before adverse weather prevented the batsman to bat against South Africa. Form England rebounded from a defeat against Pakistan in fine style by thrashing Bangladesh by runs on Saturday.
Roy got his first century of the tournament, while Bairstow and Buttler both made half-centuries as England's batting line-up flexed its muscles.
The contrast between England's batting unit a West Indies bowling attack that has so far relied on pace and aggression should make for an intriguing contest. Sheldon Cottrell has already picked up five wickets for the West Indies, while Andre Russell and Jason Holder have also caused no shortage of problems to batsmen.
When the roles are reversed, England will again be calling on Jofra Archer to make inroads. The fast bowler has been a revelation so far taking six wickets in three games, well supported by Mark Woods.
Conversely, England's spin bowlers have been largely innocuous with both Moeen Ali and Adil Rashid failing to make a significant contribution.