England kept their hopes of making the semi-finals of the T20 World Cup alive with a 20-run win over New Zealand at The Gabba.
Jos Buttler (73 off 47) and Alex Hales (52 off 40) hit half-centuries – Buttler having been dropped twice – as England posted 179-6 from their 20 overs before restricting New Zealand to 159-6.
Glenn Phillips’ 62 from 36 deliveries came in vain for the Black Caps, with Moeen Ali breathing a huge sigh of relief after losing the form batter on 15 at cover when he shelled an absolute dolly off the bowling of Adil Rashid.
England had been dumped out of last year’s T20 World Cup by New Zealand at the semi-final stage after their death bowling flopped, but there was no repeat in Brisbane, with Sam Curran’s boundary conceding just five of the 26 runs the Kiwis required from the final over.
England, New Zealand and Australia are all on five points heading into the final round of Group 1 matches, with New Zealand leading the pool on net turnover rate, ahead of second-placed England and third-placed Australia.
New Zealand face Ireland and Australia face Afghanistan in Adelaide on Friday before England face Sri Lanka in Sydney on Saturday.
Should New Zealand, Australia and England all win as expected, the top two spots will be decided on net run rate, with Australia having the most to do with their run rate of -0.304 compared to New Zealand’s +2.233 and England’s. +0.547.
Any slip-ups could yet see Sri Lanka involved in the semi-finals. Ireland have the slimmest of chances to qualify but require an extraordinary set of results.
Buttler, Hales give England strong start in Brisbane
Buttler and Hales shared a first wicket stand of 81 from 62 balls after the former opted to bat on a used Gabba surface.
Buttler was dropped for eight by New Zealand captain Kane Williamson at cover and then again for 40 by Daryl Mitchell at deep runs as he top-scored in his 100th T20 international and overtook former skipper Eoin Morgan as England’s leading run-scorer in T20s – the international competition. cricket.
Buttler was eventually run out in the penultimate over but played a major role in his side plundering 102 runs from their final 10 overs, with Livingstone (20 off 14) the only other player to carry Buttler and Hales reaching double figures.
The captain had spoken at the toss about how England would be “flexible” with their batting order and kept that promise with Moeen (6) and Livingstone pushed up to No.3 and No.4 respectively, with Ben Stokes (8) and Dawid Malan (3no) coming in on No. 6 and No. 8.
England had looked on course for an even bigger total at one point, with Buttler and Livingstone at the crease at the end of the 17th over and the score at 148-2; a cluster of late wickets halted some of their momentum, although they still managed 16 from Lockie Ferguson’s final over.
Each of New Zealand’s three pacemen – Ferguson (2-45), Trent Boult (0-40) and Tim Southee (1-43) – went for at least 10 runs per over, with the containing job done by spinner Mitchell Santner ( 1) -25) and Ish Sodhi (1-23); Santner with the first wicket of the evening when he got Hales stumped in the 11th over.
Moeen and Harry Brook (7) were caught in the deep off Sodhi and Southee respectively; Livingstone was bowled trying to repeat a ramped four over fine leg off Ferguson; and Stokes was caught lbw by a Ferguson yorker off the penultimate ball of the innings.
Stokes’ dismissal left Malan with one ball to face and he picked up three from it after working Ferguson into the leg side; the left-hander was not out along with Curran (6no) where Curran had hit Ferguson for a six on the legs earlier in the last over.
Buttler with brilliant catch at the start of New Zealand’s chase
New Zealand were reduced to 28-2 during a drive-shy powerplay with Buttler’s acrobatic catch down the leg side removing Devon Conway (3) off the bowling of Chris Woakes and Finn Allen (16) spooning Curran to Stokes at deep midwicket – Stokes apparently injured his finger after taking the catch and left the field before returning a short while later.
New Zealand should have been 64-3 in the 10th over, but Moeen inexplicably dropped Phillips, who went on to 91 from 59 balls with Williamson (40 off 40).
The momentum was with New Zealand when Phillips clipped Rashid for consecutive sixes in the 14th over, the batter completing a 25-ball fifty-four days after hitting a scintillating century against Sri Lanka.
The Black Caps needed 67 off 36 deliveries but Stokes got Williamson at short third before Mark Wood and Chris Woakes dampened the score, getting Jimmy Neesham (6) and Daryl Mitchell (3) in the deep respectively.
When Phillips then bowled Curran down the ground with 46 needed from 16 balls – sub-fielder Chris Jordan with his second catch of the evening – the match was all but over.
Buttler: We have dangerous players
England captain Jos Buttler: “I said at pitching, you don’t become a bad team overnight. We have some really dangerous players, and we came out tonight and left it all out there. We hit deep and that allows you to take it over earlier. We know that [qualification] is in our own hands.”
Williamson: England were clinical
New Zealand skipper Kane Williamson: “We struggled to make those breakthroughs to change the momentum. They played beautifully, led by Jos and Alex Hales. Hats off to the way England played, they were very clinical. We had our moments [in the run chase] but we couldn’t get ahead of the game. Thanks to their bowlers.”
What comes next?
England face Sri Lanka in Sydney on Saturday (8am UK time) with New Zealand played Ireland in Adelaide a day earlier (4am UK time on Friday). Both matches are live on Sky Sports Cricket.
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