England defeat New Zealand by 20 runs in Men’s T20 Cricket World Cup in Brisbane
England has kept its T20 World Cup hopes alive with a tense, 20-run victory over New Zealand at the Gabba.
Skipper Jos Buttler scored a sensational 73, having been twice dropped — on 8 and on 40 — as England made 6-179.
Glenn Phillips’ magnificent 62 off 36 balls kept New Zealand in the chase until the final four overs.
However, when he fell to the excellent Sam Curran, New Zealand’s hopes evaporated.
The result means everything rests on the final round of matches in group one, with England second, behind New Zealand and ahead of Australia on net run rate.
When England woke up this morning to persistent rain and leaden skies, there must have been fears of another washout, which would have been almost terminal for their chances of progression.
However, the clouds spent themselves by mid-afternoon and the perfect playing conditions ended up drawing a healthy crowd of 22,547 people to the Gabba, 4,000 more than Monday’s match between Australia and Ireland.
They were not to be disappointed either, witnessing a thrilling tussle between two high-quality teams.
After losing the toss and being asked to field, New Zealand almost got off to a perfect start when Buttler appeared to be caught off Mitchell Santner in the sixth over after a stunning diving effort from Kane Williamson at cover.
Buttler started walking off but replays showed that the Black Caps skipper had let the ball slip through his hands.
With Buttler on eight from eight balls at the time and he made New Zealand pay with a well-crafted 73, hitting his first six with an audacious ramp shot to a Lockie Ferguson ball from outside off to fine leg.
Dropping Buttler once was unfortunate. Dropping him a second time was just careless.
Daryl Mitchell was the guilty party the second time around as Buttler gained a third life for the innings, shelling a simple catch on the mid-wicket boundary when he was on 40 off Ferguson.
Meanwhile, Alex Hales was steadily compiling runs up the other end before he was stumped off Santner for 52 off 40, with Moeen Ali (5), promoted to number three to deal with the spinners, falling shortly after.
Buttler continued to grow into his innings, hitting some sumptuous boundaries off Ferguson (2-45) and Boult (0-40), before dispatching the latter over the sightscreen with a shot that would have not looked out of place in the World Series.
Liam Livingstone’s 14-ball cameo ended when he was clean bowled by Ferguson for 20, and Harry Brook (7) came and went in just three balls before being caught by Finn Allen off Tim Southee.
England rode their luck at times as skyed balls fell safe and excellent balls flew past the stumps, but even accounting for the two dropped catches, New Zealand were slightly off in the field.
It was excellent work though from Williamson that ended Buttler’s superb stay, running out England’s skipper at the non-strikers end after first stopping a blistering drive from Ben Stokes at cover.
Buttler’s innings saw him move past former skipper Eoin Morgan as England’s leading run-scorer in T20I cricket, with 2,468 runs.
Stokes fell LBW to Ferguson for 8 in the penultimate ball of the innings, before Dawid Malan ran three off a poor piece of fielding in the deep — making 179 on the same used strip that Australia scored the same total against Ireland the day prior.
Buttler’s excellent night continued with the gloves, taking a diving catch to dismiss Devon Conway for a 9-ball 3 off a leg-side Chris Woakes delivery.
The dangerous Allen was next to fall, skying Sam Curran to Stokes at mid-wicket.
Concerningly for England, Stokes instantly left the ground with an injury to his left index finger — the same finger he had two surgeries on in 2021 — but he returned two overs later.
England were marginally ahead after the powerplay overs (2-40 to 0-48) and held that lead through 10 (2-66 to 0-77) — but New Zealand caught a huge break in the 10th over when Ali dropped a sitter.
Phillips was on 15 off 10 when Ali casually shelled a sitter at mid-wicket off the bowling of Adil Rashid.
He looked to capitalise instantly, too, smashing a huge six to long-on off a 152 kilometre-per-hour Mark Wood yorker.
To rub further salt into the wounds of Rashid, Phillips slogged two enormous sixes when the England leg spinner returned to the attack, reaching his 50 off 25 balls.
Stokes helped halt the avalanche of runs when he had Williamson caught for a run-a-ball 40 by Rashid, with Jimmy Neesham (6) following shortly after when he was caught by Curran on the square leg boundary off the bowling of Wood, who was regularly clocked in excess of 150kph — peaking at 154.7kph.
Woakes and Curran were charged with bowling the death overs, and the former had Mitchell caught on the long on rope by Chris Jordan — on for Livingstone — for 3 in an over that cost just 3.
However, the big wicket came the following over when Phillips holed out to Jordan for a superb 62 off just 36 balls — leaving New Zealand’s final pairing of Ish Sodhi and Santner with an ultimately unassailable equation of 45 runs from 15 balls.
Earlier in the day, Sri Lanka kept their narrow hopes alive with a six-wicket victory over Afghanistan at the same venue.
Sri Lanka must beat England on Saturday and hope for other results to fall their way in order to progress, while Australia will be relying on a Sri Lanka victory should they beat Afghanistan on Friday.
Afghanistan are out of the tournament, but a narrow defeat, coupled with an England victory would spell the end of Australia’s campaign.