England secured a semi-final berth with an 87-run victory over New Zealand in Cardiff on Tuesday.
The first clash at Sophia Gardens in the 2016 Champions Trophy conjured up memories of the only previous encounter between the two sides at the venue. In the 2013 edition, England had been bundled out for a modest 168, before completing an unlikely victory by ten runs.
New Zealand won the toss and chose to bowl, hoping to use the moisture in the pitch and the cloud cover, which was expected to arrive later on in the day to their advantage.
England made the most of the first use of the wicket. A fantastic 64 from Joe Root and a late-innings cameo from Jos Buttler (61) lifted the hosts to 310 in their fifty overs.
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The New Zealand reply was delayed due to a wet outfield, but when it did get under way, it got off to an awful start when Jake Ball clean-bowled Luke Ronchi for a first-ball duck. This clearly rattled New Zealand somewhat as they crept to 10-1 at the five-over mark.
Martin Guptill finally broke the shackles as he took ten runs off Ball, highlighted by two fours. The resurgence continued with a couple of handy overs, courtesy of Kane Williamson and Guptill, the pair passing the 50-mark in the 13th over.
Ben Stokes broke the threatening partnership by dismissing Guptill for 27. This brought Ross Taylor to the wicket.
Williamson and Taylor lived up to their reputation as a successful batting partnership. The pair added 95 for the third wicket in 16.5 overs to keep their side in the hunt. Williamson continued his fantastic run of form against the English as he notched up his fifth consecutive fifty against them.
The pendulum seemed to be swinging in New Zealand’s favour, but Mark Wood captured Williamson just as he was beginning to hit his straps, for 87 (eight fours).
The departure of Taylor just three overs later for 39 in the 34th over all but ended the Kiwis challenge.
It was somewhat of a procession from there with the final six New Zealand wickets falling for the addition of a mere 32 runs.
England’s final Group A match is against Australia on Saturday.
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