England are into the semi-finals of the Champions Trophy after beating New Zealand by 87 runs with an accomplished all-round display yesterday. On a cold, blustery and sometimes wet day in Cardiff, England had set a total of 310, Joe Root top-scoring with 64 from 65 balls and Jos Buttler making a rapid unbeaten 61.
With their reply at 158-2 after 30 overs and Captain Kane Williamson on 87, New Zealand appeared to be timing the chase with precision.
But Mark Wood’s clever cross-seam delivery saw off Williamson, and when the experienced Ross Taylor fell 10 runs later England took control. It means they can afford to lose their final group match, against Australia on Saturday, and still qualify for the last four.
New Zealand must now beat Bangladesh on Friday and hope Australia do not win, their own rain-abandoned fixture against Steve Smith’s men continuing to haunt them.
Earlier, Jos Buttler hit 61 not out off 48 balls to lift England out of a mid-innings wobble and take it to 310 all out in 49.3 overs.
England, who were a pre tournament favourite for the Champions Trophy 2017, showed why it had that status with its batting depth on display.
Its start was powerful, with Alex Hales and Joe Root (64 off 65) hitting half-centuries, and Ben Stokes making a powerful 53-ball 48 in the middle, but with Adam Milne (three for 79) and Corey Anderson (three for 55) striking in the middle, England were in danger of being bowled out.
However, Buttler’s big-hitting ensured it crossed the 300-mark after being put in to bat by Kane Williamson.
England’s start was handy rather than dominant, despite Hales finding the fence fairly regularly.
That was because Jason Roy’s poor form continued, with the opener falling for 13 off 23, bowled while walking across the stumps to the pacy Milne. Roy’s ODI scores since May now read 0, 20, 1, 8, 4, 1, 13 – and there will be serious questions about his place in the side despite the management having backed him to the hilt. However, with the rest of the top order in good touch, the flow of runs was more than steady. Williamson rotated his bowlers, trying to find a way to keep England quiet but that proved mostly impossible. Hales was aggressive in the initial overs, taking Trent Boult and Tim Southee for boundaries, including a pull for six off Boult that flew into the mid-wicket stand, helped along by a strong breeze that stayed more or less constant through the innings. Roy fell in the eighth over, but Root was his usual classy self from the moment he came out. Root never looked in a hurry but was still gathering runs at a runa-ball, driving and flicking with ease, and showing exactly why he is among the foremost all-format batsmen in the world.