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Cricket news - Semi-final rest bite up for grabs

England have the most to lose yet seem to be the most at ease

Sweden v Denmark, 2004. They couldn't, could they?

Just to refresh your memories, or even fill you in as assumed football knowledge is a huge faux pas in cricket circles, here's what went down...

Heading into the final round of group matches at the European Championships of that year, it emerged that if Sweden and Denmark played out a 2-2 draw, they would both qualify for the latter stages, knocking out Italy in the process. Naturally, both coaches and players came out in strong opposition to the assertion they would conspire to bump the Gli Azzurri. Then - yep, you guessed it - 2-2 was how it finished, and years later it emerged those on the pitch were jovially in cahoots.

Of course, there's no way England and New Zealand will hold out for the point that sends them both through. For starters, orchestrating the charade is a logistical nightmare. But the paranoia of Pakistan fans has been set to 11 after India's slow-go in the last 10 overs of their defeat to the hosts on Sunday, so who knows what kind of nonsense Twitter will throw up.

But a point for England would ensure a semi-final spot as even if Pakistan beat Bangladesh on Friday, the net run rate of 1.208 between the sides would be too great to make up. For New Zealand, 12 points would make them untouchable and wrap up third-place for themselves.

Here we are though: third v fourth, 11 v 10 on points, the stumbling dark horses and line-fluffing hosts. The Blackcaps started like a train, while Eoin Morgan's three Lions found themselves unstuck with three defeats and only six played. A win over India has pepped up the latter, while the former were turned over by Pakistan and Australia in succession. How quickly moods change.

England have the most to lose yet seem to be the most at ease. Sunday's win over India has put a spring in their step. By contrast, New Zealand's tame defeat against Australia the day before dictates the narrative going into this fixture. Kane Williamson has been at the centre of it.

Is he too passive as a captain? Is he scoring too many of the runs? Is he... too Kane Williamson?

Of course, compared to Brendon McCullum, Williamson is your grandad's slippers. But then Morgan is your dad's slippers up against the cavalier Kiwi. Ross Taylor summed it up best when addressing questions on the current skipper: "We'd love as a team to let a little pressure off him and score some runs. He can't do everything." Morgan also sang Williamson's praises as a "quality, quality cricketer who is extremely humble and open to learning".

But this feels like neither the time nor the place to be worrying about relatively trivial matters such as, you know, captaincy and the like. Both these sides finish their group fixtures on Wednesday and will not want to be turning their attention to Lord's on Friday instead of resting bodies and minds ahead of a prospective knock-out match.

The head-to-head between the two have always been pretty close, even if New Zealand's comical eight-wicket win in the 2015 World Cup was as one-sided as they come in 50-over cricket (the game was done in 45.4 overs). In the series last year, England secured a 3-2 win away from home, though Taylor did enjoy a fruitful time with a magnificent 181 not out in the fourth ODI to send the series into a decider. Had he been fit for that encounter, things might have been different.

When: June 17, 2019, 09:30 AM GMT / 10:30 AM LOCAL

Where: The Riverside, Durham

What to expect: The most notable thing about this particular ground are the longer square boundaries. Durham's Twenty20 side enjoyed success by utilising the open space at cover and midwicket: putting on scores of 140-odd through primarily aiming their bigger shots straighter and running hard between the wickets for everything else. Pace off the ball generally works here, too. But, of course, these pitches are covered by the ICC rather than the club. It is a fresh pitch, though, and after Sri Lanka and West Indies scored 653 runs across 100 overs on Monday.

Team News

England: A clean-ish bill of health with Roy and Archer pulling up nicely after their touch-and-go outing against India. Moeen will sit out again. England unchanged.

Probable XI: Jason Roy, Jonny Bairstow, Joe Root, Eoin Morgan, Ben Stokes, Jos Buttler, Chris Woakes, Mark Wood, Jofra Archer, Liam Plunkett, Adil Rashid

New Zealand: Wind will be the determining factor here. Taylor speculated that if the flags fluttered as much as they did on Tuesday then New Zealand would consider going in with two spinners. But the suggestion is Tim Southee could play his first match of the competition. He has a fine record against England across formats, and his ODI numbers read 35 wickets at 28.14. And of course, that 7 for 33 in the last World Cup.

Probable XI: Henry Nicholls, Martin Guptill, Kane Williamson, Ross Taylor, Tom Latham, Colin de Grandhomme, Jimmy Neesham, Mitchell Santner, Ish Sodhi/Tim Southee, Lockie Ferguson, Trent Boult

What they said:

"It was clear that after the Australia game, there was a huge amount of disappointment in the changing room and the fact that we have been able to turn that around, identify where we are at and identify what we need to do in order to progress to the semis, made things clear about how we want to continue to play, which haven't changed, is important and it's been effective" - Morgan reflects on the last few days.

"I think Kane is a fantastic world-class batsman and a world-class captain, you know. You don't have to look far, the last couple of matches. There's some pundits out there saying he was a great captain. We lose a couple of games and he is a bad captain. He is still a great captain, leads from the front and the team respect him and I love playing under him" - Taylor goes in to bat for his captain.

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