England limited-overs coach Ashley Giles is relishing the prospect of what is effectively a Champions Trophy quarter-final clash with familiar foes New Zealand at Cardiff tomorrow.
Following a victory over Australia and defeat against Sri Lanka, Alastair Cook’s side know only emerging triumphant versus the Black Caps will guarantee a semi-final berth.
Recent history suggests a tight encounter is in the offing; England overcame New Zealand 2-1 away from home this winter before losing the reverse rubber by the same scoreline.
“Well, we've played cricket against New Zealand in this recent period,” said Giles. “We played a series against them in New Zealand which we won 2-1, we lost the one here 2-1, so it's the decider, I suppose, and it is a quarter-final.
“If you're going to go on and do well in world tournaments, these are the sort of games you've got to win.”
A significant cloud hangs over England’s hopes, with the forecast in Wales looking indifferent.
Should the game be washed out, New Zealand would progress on net run-rate, leaving Giles et al left to hope Australia deliver a narrow win over Sri Lanka the following day.
Giles is unsurprisingly hoping predictions of inclement weather prove unfounded, yet was keen to focus on the threat posed by England’s opponents.
“I guess we're all hoping the weather stays at bay and we just get on with a full day's cricket, but they're a good side,” he said.
“We know the Kiwis are a gritty side, well-organised, well-led, but so are we, and our focus has got to be on what we do well.”
Tomorrow’s encounter will be the second opportunity for England to reach the last four after they failed to do so when Sri Lanka chased down 294 at The Oval on Thursday, Kumar Sangakkara striking a brilliant 131 not out.
“It was disappointing to lose the game the other day to Sri Lanka, but it took an incredibly good innings from one of the best players in the world to do that,” added Giles.
“So, you know, that does happen. But we always prepare as well as we possibly can to limit those opportunities for sides to beat us.”