Dubai: A ruthless New Zealand will be eyeing to strengthen their semifinal chances with a solid knockout punch on an already struggling Scotland in a Group 2 Super 12 match of the ICC T20 World Cup here on Wednesday.
Handed a defeat by Pakistan in their tournament opener, Kane Williamson and his troops made a strong comeback in their next game.
They produced a clinical performance to beat tournament favourites India by eight wickets, taking a giant stride towards a semifinal spot.
New Zealand need to win their remaining three matches to make the last four, so the Black Caps can ill afford to slip up. They will also be eyeing dominant wins to improve their net run rate which could come into play later on.
Having already played Pakistan and India, they’re expected to breeze past Scotland and Namibia while the clash against Afghanistan could be tricky.
The Kiwis have a potent bowling attack and in both the games, they have showed why their bowlers are rated so highly. Defending a modest 134, they made life difficult for Pakistan batters before stifling a star-studded Indian line up.
Spinners Ish Sodhi and Mitchell Santner were sensational against India. In their eight overs, the duo gave just 32 runs while also securing crucial scalps of Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli, while the pacers, led by star seamer Trent Boult, too contributed handsomely.
In the batting department, Daryl Mitchell has embraced his role as an opener. Along with veteran Martin Guptill, the two make a formidable pair. After the failure in the tournament opener, the unit was not tested much against India.
The biggest worry, however, remains Williamson’s fitness. He is still not hundred per cent and continues to play with an elbow injury. But resting the skipper, a pillar of the New Zealand side, from either of the two games would be a risk the Kiwis may not be willing to take.
Scotland, on the other hand, entered the Super 12s stage high on confidence, having beaten all their opponents in the qualifiers but things have gone awry for the Scots as they slumped to back-to-back defeats at the hands of Namibia and Afghanistan.
Against Afghanistan, they were skittled out for a paltry 60 in 10.2 overs and were handed a 130-run defeat. In their second game, they were a touch better, managing 109 in 20 overs. But against a top team like New Zealand they will have to give a better account of themselves.
Scotland bowled their hearts out against Namibia but their batters’ inability to put enough runs on the board led to their downfall once again.
The batting trio of Richie Berrington, George Munsey and Matthew Cross produced the goods in the qualifying matches but their batting line-up has looked clueless in Super 12s stage.
The spin trio of Chris Greaves, Mark Watt and Michael Lesk did well in the previous outing and will look to replicate the performance. However, it is imperative that their batters put runs on the board to have a shot at New Zealand.
As is the trend, teams chasing win the matches here, so the toss will be crucial.
New Zealand: Kane Williamson (c), Martin Guptill, Daryl Mitchell, Devon Conway, Tim Seifert (wk), James Neesham, Glenn Phillips, Mitchell Santner, Ish Sodhi, Trent Boult, Tim Southee, Mark Chapman, Adam Milne, Kyle Jamieson, Todd Astle.
Scotland: Kyle Coetzer (c), Richie Berrington, Dylan Budge, Matthew Cross, Josh Davey, Alasdair Evans, Chris Greaves, Michael Leask, Calum MacLeod, George Munsey, Safyaan Sharif, Hamza Tahir, Craig Wallace, Mark Watt, Bradley Wheal.
Match starts at 3.30 PM IST.
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