England will look to bounce back from a chastening opening defeat to Australia when taking on the 2015 Cricket World Cup’s other co-hosts New Zealand in Wellington on Friday. Entering the tournament in patchy form, England’s poor record against Australia Down Under continued with a 111-run defeat in front of a full house at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. For England, it is an tough beginning to their attempts to win a first World Cup, with New Zealand another of the leading contenders to lift the trophy. Captain Eoin Morgan, who admitted his disappointment with England’s opening performance, is eager to get a much-needed confidence boost in their second match.
“There is a sense of frustration,” he said at a press conference this week. “The big games that we play, these first two games in particular are great practice for the later stages of the tournament. If we can get wins under our belts against good opposition it can breed confidence for later in the tournament. Ideally you’d build that before the big games, but it’s just the way they fall.”
England made a surprise lineup change ahead of their debut in the tournament, when dropping Ravi Bopara and bringing in Gary Ballance. If they are too bounce back with a win, they will need a much improved performance from their upper order. Not least Morgan himself. The Irish-born batsman, who only took over the one-day captaincy from Alastair Cook two months ago, was caught for a duck against Australia to leave his runs total from his last five ODI innings at just two.
"I don't understand it," he said. “I've done the same things that I've been doing since the start of the tour and I started the tour with a hundred. That's only five games ago. You don't look any further than what's in front of you and I've done that and it hasn't worked. But I believe it will work and when it does hopefully I can cash in on it and hopefully make it either a match-winning performance or build on somebody else's performance.”
New Zealand will also be after an improved batting display. After beating Sri Lanka to open the World Cup, the semifinalists in 2011 and 2007 looked headed for an emphatic win over Scotland on Tuesday when bowling the minnows out for 142. But the chase became rather more complicated than it should have been as New Zealand, despite progressing toward their target at speed, lost seven wickets before getting over the line. But veteran all-rounder Grant Elliott believes there is no reason to panic.
“We got a win and a great net run rate, so we got our objective,” he said, reports ESPN Cricinfo. “As individuals you look at your dismissals and you chat about your dismissals with the coaches to move forward. If losing quick wickets was a common trend, it would be a concern, but we've seen in the past two months that there's been quite a lot of consistency with the batting.”
Betting odds (via bovada.lv): New Zealand 1/2, England 33/20
Prediction: If England get into bat first and play to their potential, they’re capable of posting a sizable total. But this will be a tough fixture in which to find their form and New Zealand should continue their perfect record.
Match time: Thursday, 8 p.m. EST
TV info: DISH Network, Mediacom and Time Warner Cable subscribers can watch the match via pay per view. More info here.