New Zealand pacer Adam Milne said that his team is aware of facing a tough challenge from England in the semi-finals of the ICC T20 World Cup 2021. He added that New Zealand back themselves to do well against any opposition, including a ‘world-class’ England team.
“Obviously, they’re a world-class team that’s sort of proven over the last few years that in white-ball competitions they’re extremely strong. They’ve got a powerful batting order and a very skilled bowling group. We know it’s going to be a real tough challenge. But saying that we’ve got a really good group again also some really skilled bowlers, seamers, and spinners, and a really good batting group. We’re confident we can go out and beat anyone in this tournament,” said Milne in the post-match press conference after New Zealand defeated Afghanistan by eight wickets in their final Super 12 match on Sunday.
Milne feels that England will still be a force to reckon with despite opener Jason Roy’s availability in doubt due to a calf injury. Roy retired hurt on 20 after injuring his calf in England’s 10-run defeat to South Africa on Saturday.
— England Cricket (@englandcricket) November 7, 2021
“Obviously very disappointed for Jason. You don’t want to wish that on anyone. Having been in the same sort of position myself. But I think when you look at the England order, they’ve got guys that can easily slot into open, Jonny Bairstow has opened before. So, I think whatever team they have coming out against us, it’s going to be a really strong team. We’ll have to be right on the mark.”
Talking about New Zealand’s bowling performance in restricting Afghanistan to 124/8, Milne was in praise of the unit clicking together. “I think it was pleasing to have a good performance for the whole bowling unit. I thought the way Timmy and Trent started us off really sort of brought a great intensity to the start of the bowling spell. And then I was able to sort of continuing on that, which was good.”
Milne sounded happy about being a part of the team in the semi-finals after missing the 2015 Cricket World Cup semi-final and final due to a left heel injury. Originally drafted as a reserve for the ongoing event, Milne was added to the main squad after Lockie Ferguson was ruled out due to a calf muscle tear.
“Obviously to come from the reserves and be part of the World Cup now is pretty special, and to qualify for the semi-finals, it’s a great moment. And hopefully looking forward to the semi-final, we can put on a performance and make it into the final.”
The 29-year-old signed off by praising Afghanistan’s ascent in world cricket with players like Rashid Khan dominating T20 franchise leagues. “Obviously they’re a great team. They’ve got some great players. Now the way they’ve sort of built over the last sort of two years, you can just see by the presence of their players, and the big T20 tournaments, the IPL and the Blast and Big Bash, a number of their players are playing in all of those tournaments.”
“It really shows the development of the team cricket-wise. They’ve got some extremely skilled players. Rashid Khan’s one of the best bowlers, if not the best bowler, in T20 cricket. They’re an incredibly talented group, and I only see them continuing to develop and become better and better.”