Image courtesy of: The Guardian
Cook effectively crushed New Zealand’s hopes of making it to the semi-finals
England found themselves within touching distance of the semi-finals after captain Alastair Cook’s blistering innings of 64 pretty much knocked New Zealand out of the running, despite a lone effort by Kane Williamson.
Cook’s 64 off 47 balls, which included four boundaries and two sixes, was by far the highest score in the batting line-up as Joe Root was the only other batsman to cross the 20-run mark.
New Zealand skipper Brendon McCullum won the toss and chose to bowl first in rainy conditions.
Due to the persistent rain, the match was eventually scaled down to 24 overs per side.
Cook wasted no time in getting settled at the crease and from the first ball of the innings, it was clear that he had switched his mindset from ODI mode to Twenty20 mode.
While Cook was blazing away, his team-mates continued to fall like dominos, giving New Zealand the edge, until Root’s 38 off 40 deliveries catapulted England into a dominant position, which gave them the advantage once again.
After Cook and Root both departed, the lower order batsmen succumbed to the might of Mitchell McClenaghan and Kyle Mills.
Eoin Morgan’s 15 and Jos Buttler’s 14 helped England reach 169 before they were bowled out with three balls to spare.
Mills was the top New Zealand bowler with four wickets, while McClenaghan picked up three and the spin duo of Daniel Vettori and Nathan McCullum snapped up one wicket apiece.
Chasing a difficult target of 170 to win, New Zealand’s innings got off to a horrible start and within almost no time at all, the Blackcaps found themselves in a big hole, with the scoreboard reading 62/5.
Williamson’s 67 off 54 balls, which included eight boundaries and one maximum, provided some resistance, but as soon as he was dismissed by Stuart Broad, New Zealand’s chances of winning the match were near impossible.
However, the phrase ‘impossible is nothing’ must have been going through the mind of debutant Corey Anderson, who smashed an impressive 30 runs off 24 deliveries to give New Zealand a boost in the right direction.
However, some things just aren’t meant to be, as the Blackcaps found themselves 10 runs short of their target at the end of their 24 overs.
England pace bowler James Anderson wreaked havoc on the New Zealand batting line-up, taking three wickets, while Tim Bresnan and Ravi Bopara each picked up two wickets and Broad chipped in with the all-important wicket of Williamson.
McCullum praised his batsmen for their effort during the chase, but admitted that his side had plenty of chances to limit the number of runs England scored.
“Kane and Corey gave us a chance but it wasn’t until they got going and in the end we were short,” he said. “It’s one of those things [dropping catches], Nathan is normally very good. The run rate has kept us going, it’ll be hard to cheer for Australia but if it keeps us in the tournament, then good.”
Cook was pleased with his side’s performance and was named the Man of the Match for his outstanding innings of 64.
“It was quite a stressful day, especially with those last few overs,” he said. “We thought we were above the rate but Anderson and Williamson took it on, luckily we got over the line. We were very good in the field today and I thought we were good with the bat, maybe 10 runs short. We’re happy to be in the semi-final, that was a good performance. We’re two games away now. Graeme’s got a calf injury but we’re very lucky to have James Tredwell to step in.”