England v New Zealand - ICC Cricket World Cup 2019
England v New Zealand - ICC Cricket World Cup 2019

Not so pathetic now: Poms’ 27-year first

England qualified for the Cricket World Cup semi-finals for the first time in 27 years with a 119-run win over New Zealand, which is also effectively heading to the playoffs despite a third straight loss.

The Poms, after a 8/305 to 186 victory, will play India in the semis if Australia holds top spot. The Aussies need a win in their final group game against South Africa to set up a final four match-up against the stumbling Kiwis.

Jonny Bairstow made history by becoming the first Englishman to score successive World Cup tons, backing up a century against India with 106 against the Kiwis.

Bairstow showed there's nothing "negative and pathetic" about his batting after they were the words used by former England captain Michael Vaughan to describe his fellow Yorkshireman for suggesting that pundits wanted England to lose at the World Cup.

Bairstow has acknowledged that criticism fired him up before scoring 111 against India in a crucial win at the weekend, and he followed that with a tremendous knock against the Kiwis, prompting Vaughan to jump on Twitter.

 

 

England captain Eoin Morgan said Bairstow produced the "match-winning" innings.

"I thought we were outstanding today," Morgan said, "and it started with the two boys again at the top of the order, laying a good solid platform, batting how they do.

"Guys are buzzing and smiling at how ridiculous some of the shots the two guys are playing. Good balls are being hit for four or six."

The Black Caps never looked like chasing down the target after the run-outs of Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor in successive overs left them struggling at 4/69.

New Zealand was eventually dismissed for 186 and leapfrogged in the standings by England, which will end the group stage in third place. The tournament host will play in the second semi-final, at Edgbaston on July 11, against the team that finishes in second place - currently India.

England, which entered the tournament as the world's top-ranked team, marches into the semis following morale-restoring wins over India and New Zealand back to back. New Zealand, which had lost to Pakistan and Australia before heading to Chester-le-Street for its group closer, is set to play in the first semi-final in Manchester on Tuesday when it will have to find momentum from somewhere.

New Zealand is currently two points ahead of fifth-place Pakistan, whose final group game is against Bangladesh on Friday, but is highly unlikely to lose its place in the top four because of a far superior net run-rate than its rival.

 

Jonny Bairstow is proving the doubters wrong.
Jonny Bairstow is proving the doubters wrong.

England enjoyed two strokes of fortune in a match it needed to win to guarantee a semi-final spot. The first was winning the toss on a pitch that slowed and broke up as a sunny day wore on, making batting increasingly difficult.

Bairstow and fellow opener Jason Roy (60 off 61 balls) enjoyed a third straight century stand before it was broken at 123, giving England a platform for a shot at a massive total.

But from 1/194, England lost Joe Root (24), Bairstow and Jos Buttler (11) in a 19-ball spell to slump to 4/214, and the boundaries began to dry up.

Eoin Morgan's 42 off 40 balls helped to inch his team past 300, but New Zealand was back in the contest after restricting England to only 111 runs in its last 20 overs.

That was until the early loss of openers Henry Nicholls (0) and Martin Guptill (8) was compounded by Williamson - New Zealand's rock and captain - getting sent back to the pavilion in the harshest of ways.

Taylor played a straight drive that glanced off the fingertips of bowler Mark Wood and onto the stumps, with Williamson out of his ground at the non-striker's end. After a lengthy look at the replays, Williamson was given out for 27.

 

England can breathe easier now.
England can breathe easier now.

Taylor departed for 28 the next over after choosing to go for a risky second with the ball heading to Adil Rashid at fine leg. Rashid's throw was pinpoint and Jos Buttler removed the bails with Taylor short of his ground.

Once a 54-run partnership between Tom Latham (57) and Jimmy Neesham (19) was ended, New Zealand was simply delaying the inevitable by mostly blocking out to ensure the team's net run rate wasn't too affected.

The English ended a run of five straight losses to New Zealand at World Cups, the latest being a humiliating eight-wicket defeat in 2015 that led to their group-stage exit and a makeover of the one-day game in England. It has resulted in England reaching the semi-finals for the first time since 1992, when it lost to Pakistan in the title match.