ODI THRILLER SEQUEL
England and New Zealand open Cricket World Cup 2023 in a repeat of 2019 final
England will take on New Zealand in the opening match of the 2023 Cricket World Cup on Thursday at the 130,000-capacity Narendra Modi Stadium in India.
In a replay of the 2019 Cricket World Cup final, England and New Zealand will face off again, but this time in the first match of this year’s edition, on Thursday.
Instead of Lord’s Cricket Ground in England, they will clash at the 130,000-capacity Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad in India — the largest cricket stadium, by capacity, in the world.
It’s a fitting opening to the quadrennial tournament.
“To play the opening game here at an amazing venue is pretty special,” stand-in Black Caps skipper Tom Latham said to the media on Wednesday.
“We’ve played England a lot recently over a few formats over the last couple of years… We’re solely focused on the job at hand tomorrow [Thursday].
“We’ve had time to reflect on what a fantastic game it was four years ago [the World Cup final in 2019]. Everyone will probably say it’s one of the best games of cricket to be played.
“From our point of view, we’ve parked that and we’re really looking forward to what the challenges present tomorrow. To play a fantastic England side in a World Cup opener is really special. It can’t get much better than that.”
After both teams scored 241 runs after their allotted 50 overs and then 15 runs apiece in the super over, England eventually won the final and the tournament through a somewhat controversial boundary countback.
New Zealand’s regular skipper and player of the tournament in 2019, Kane Williamson, will miss the opening clash as he continues to recover from an anterior cruciate ligament injury he sustained during the Indian Premier League this year.
Experienced fast bowler Tim Southee is also out with an injured thumb.
Despite those injuries, at least six players from each side that played in the 2019 final should feature in the opening fixture.
‘Hard to beat’
England beat New Zealand 3-1 in a four-match One Day International (ODI) series in England last month.
England, along with hosts India, enter the tournament as favourites for the title.
“We are not focused on what people are predicting; from our point of view we are solely focused on what we have to do,” Latham said.
“If we can play our brand of cricket in these conditions, which is pretty different to the last two ODI World Cups, in Australia and England… If we play to the best of our ability then we are hard to beat on the day.”
New Zealand enter the tournament with some confidence after a 2-0 series win over Bangladesh as well as a seven-run warm-up match win over South Africa.
“I don’t think it has any bearing on the next game,” Latham said.
“It’s about turning up on that particular day and trying to play your best brand of cricket. If we play to the best of our ability then we can beat anyone in the world.”
England enter the tournament in high spirits with all their bases covered with their wide array of all-rounders, although star all-rounder Ben Stokes — who made his return to the ODI format for the World Cup — will play the tournament solely as a batter because of a niggling knee injury.
Stokes was the player of the match in the previous final after smashing a well-constructed unbeaten 84 off 98 deliveries.
“We’re going to try to win a World Cup — we don’t see ourselves as defending champions,” said England captain Jos Buttler.
“It’s very much a new tournament and we know it’s going to be tough because there are some top, top teams.
“But we know we’re a really good team, a dangerous team; we’ve got a lot of experience in the group and we back ourselves.” DM
England and New Zealand face off in the opening match of the Cricket World Cup from 10.30am on Thursday.