England beat New Zealand by 10 runs in their final group game of the Champions Trophy on Sunday to book their place in Wednesday’s semi-final at The Oval.
In a rain affected match reduced to 24 overs per side at the SWALEC Stadium, Black Caps skipper Brendan McCullum won the toss and decided to field first. England skipper Alistair Cook was in sparkling touch, playing beautifully for his 64 from just 47 balls – despite being dropped 3 times by Nathan McCullum. Cook’s opening partner Bell and number 3 Jonathan Trott both departed in quick succession to leave England on 25-2. Joe Root, returning from his brief foray into the bar brawling world, joined his captain at the crease and proceeded to punch (see what I did there?) the Kiwis around for his 38 from 40 balls. After Root departed, the middle order had something of a collapse, with Eoin Morgan making 15, Jos Buttler 14, and 9 from Ravi Bopara, taking England’s total to 169 all out from 23.3 overs.
England’s pace trio of Anderson, Broad and Bresnan then took 6 wickets between them as New Zealand were reduced to 62-5. Kane Williamson and debutant Corey Anderson then started to worry England as they went about rebuilding the innings, blasting a partnership of 73 from just 45 balls, before Williamson holed out to James Anderson off the bowling of Stuart Broad. Kiwi Anderson departed not long after for a swinging 30 from 24, with English Anderson once again claiming the catch, this time off the bowling of Tim Bresnan. Nathan McCullum was the 8th wicket to fall, caught behind by Buttler off Anderson – who finished with 3-32 from his 5 overs – as England managed to close out a game that Captain Cook later described as “stressful”.
If England finish as group winners – which they will do unless Australia beat Sri Lanka convincingly on Monday – they should face perennial world tournament ‘chokers’ South Africa on Wednesday. On the other hand, if Australia do win convincingly, England would then face in form – and surely now tournament favourites – India, in Cardiff on Thursday.