England soar past Kiwis


It was a fairytale journey for New Zealand, but it had no fairytale finish. Their magnificent run met a premature end at the hands of England, who led by the brutal charge of Jason Roy, scripted a captivating seven-wicket victory to reach the World Twenty20 final on Wednesday.

Things fell in place for England from the start. They won the toss, put New Zealand to bat and pulled down their speedy march to 153/8 on an absolute batting beauty. The death bowling has been the hallmark of this English side and Ben Stokes (3-26) played an efficient role in putting reins on the Black Caps.

Roy (78, 44b, 4x11, 2x6) then broke the New Zealand attack into smithereens and laid the foundation for England to accomplish the target in 17.1 overs. Roy, it seemed, had been itching to take the guard on the surface. Corey Anderson experienced one of the worst opening over. Roy whacked four of his deliveries to the fence. Turn by turn each Black Caps’ bowler returned with wounded ego and ugly figures, thanks to Roy. The small boundaries of Kotla appeared to have gone even smaller!

Roy muscled the ball with supreme power, his drives scorching the ground, his two sixes laced with effortlessness. It was exhilarating and awe inspiring for the packed crowd and heartbreaking for New Zealand. Even their quick Adam Milne was not spared. Alex Hales, the T20I centurion for England, was reduced to a spectator at the other end. He asserted his presence by sending Milne over long-off boundary. The first four overs bled 49 runs and with it the New Zealand’s talismanic touch in this tournament, too, disappeared.

Their successful spinning duo of Ish Sodi and Mitchell Santner failed to reproduce their magic with pitch hardly assisting any turn. There was no stopping Roy, and as long as he was on crease, there was no way to slow him down either.

New Zealand got their first breakthrough only in the ninth over when Hales was caught off Santner. Sodhi, however, did manage to raise excitement in the 13th over when he dismissed Roy, who was bowled while coming down the pitch, and then trapped Eoin Morgan lbw in the first two deliveries. But with the likes of Joe Root and Jos Buttler in their ranks, England had little to worry.

The two simply feasted on the New Zealand bowling in their unbeaten 49-run stand for the fourth wicket. Sodhi was hammered for 22 runs by Root and Buttler in the 17th over to level the scores. Buttler then pulled the Santner’s first ball over deep midwicket to spark celebrations in the England camp.

New Zealand had been spot on reading the conditions in the tournament but this day perhaps compromised on their pace attack.

The Black Caps top order had got them cruising at 89/1 in the first 10 overs but they lost the plot in the middle overs. Guptill in his brief innings had begun with a bang before the second wicket partnership of 74 off 50 balls between Colin Munro and Kane Williamson got them going. But both departed within three overs and England bowlers again dished out a spectacular display at death to skittle them to a below-par total. It killed the New Zealand dream, and fetched England a flight to Kolkata.

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