New Delhi: Former Pakistan bowler Shoaib Akhtar on Saturday picked England as the clear favourites for the final against New Zealand in the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup.
“If England win the toss against New Zealand, they will score big runs against the Kiwis. It is important for Martin Guptill and Henry Nicholls to give a solid foundation to the Kiwi lineup. I support New Zealand, but England will clearly go in as the favourites in the final,” Akhtar said in a video posted on his official YouTube channel.
The bowler said that New Zealand will need to perform in all the departments of the game to pose a threat to England. Akhtar also advocated for Jos Buttler, asking England’s team management to promote the batsman in the batting order.
“Pressure plays a big role in big matches. England is a big team. I think they will create history at Lord’s by winning their first ever 50-over World Cup. New Zealand needs to perform in all departments of the game. Guptill needs to score runs for New Zealand to give the team a solid base at the top,” Akhtar said.
“Jos Buttler should bat at top of the order, and if he gets the opportunity he will score big runs for the team. I hope for a thrilling match, it would be disappointing to see a batting collapse in the finals,” he added.
On the eve of the final, skipper Eoin Morgan on Saturday said that the final against the Kiwis means a huge amount to him and every other player in the dressing room.
“It means a huge amount to me and everyone in the dressing room. It’s a combination of four years of hard work, dedication and it presents a huge opportunity to win the World Cup. We have had huge backing throughout the tournament,” Morgan told reporters at the pre-match conference.
“I certainly feel pretty relaxed. I am also very excited about tomorrow. We are going to enjoy the game regardless of the occasion. You never know what you are going to say to the team before the morning of the game. Everybody is fit in our squad. So it’s good news,” he added.
England have made it to their fourth World Cup final whereas New Zealand have reached the final for the second time.
The three lions last made it to the final in 1992 whereas the Kiwis reached the final in the 2015 World Cup as well.
England had finished the group stage in the third position with 13 points from nine matches whereas New Zealand finished at the fourth spot with 11 points.
When these two teams faced off in the group stage, England came out triumphant as they defeated the BlackCaps by 119 runs.
England takes on New Zealand in the final of the Cricket World Cup on Sunday, July 14 at Lord’s Cricket Ground.