England bank on Joe Root to unravel Kiwi spinners' web

Joe Root's classy knock against the Proteas fired England to a successful record chase of 230.

New Delhi: England hope in-form batsman Joe Root and "home" advantage can make the difference against undefeated New Zealand in the first World Twenty20 semifinal on Wednesday.

Eoin Morgan's team will be playing their third match in a row in New Delhi, but for the nomadic Black Caps it will be their fifth different venue in five tournament matches.

"It's a home game even if we are in India," said England all-rounder Ben Stokes, who tipped Root to destroy New Zealand's formidable spin attack, which has so far been on top in favourable Indian conditions.

The Kiwis have won the toss, batted first and used their spin bowlers to great effect to defend totals in all four of their group matches.

"Root is a class player and he is one of the best around in all three formats of the game at the moment," said Stokes of his 25-year-old teammate.

Only India's Virat Kohli of all the players to reach the semifinals has scored more runs than Root's 168, which included a match-winning 83 against South Africa.

His classy knock against the Proteas fired England to a successful record chase of 230 and got their bid for a second World T20 title back on track after an opening-match defeat to the West Indies.

The 2010 champions then squeaked past minnows Afghanistan and defending champions Sri Lanka to finish second in Group One on six points behind the West Indies.

Stokes on familiar ground:

England were reduced to 85 for 7 against Afghanistan before eventually winning by 15 runs and then Angelo Mathews' valiant 73 almost saw England come unstuck in a nervous 10-run triumph over Sri Lanka.

But Stokes, whose tight "death" bowling was crucial to the victory over Sri Lanka, believes the hard-fought manner of the wins -- with both matches being in Delhi -- gives England an edge.

"We are a little bit more used to the conditions," he told reporters on Monday.

New Zealand, who were unfancied coming into the tournament following the retirement of former captain Brendon McCullum, haven't put a foot wrong on their travels since stunning favourites India in their first game.

Captain Kane Williamson has deployed his spinners to supreme effect as the Kiwis became the only side to progress unbeaten from the Super 10 stage, despite a schedule that took them to Nagpur, Dharamsala, Mohali and Kolkata.

"We have done a lot of travel but the boys have been great and have embraced the schedule and the pitches," said Williamson, 25.

Spinners Mitchell Santner and Ish Sodhi have shared 17 wickets as their two most experienced pacemen -- Tim Southee and Trent Boult -- warmed the substitutes' bench.


England: Eoin Morgan (Captain), Moeen Ali, Sam Billings, Jos Buttler, Liam Dawson, Alex Hales, Chris Jordan, Liam Plunkett, Adil Rashid, Joe Root, Jason Roy, Ben Stokes, Reece Topley, James Vince, David Willey

New Zealand: Kane Williamson (Captain), Corey Anderson, Trent Boult, Martin Guptill, Grant Elliott, Colin Munro, Mitchell McClenaghan, Nathan McCullum, Adam Milne, Henry Nicholls, Luke Ronchi, Mitchell Santner, Ish Sodhi, Tim Southee, Ross Taylor

( Source : AFP )
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