A superb 78 from Jason Roy guided England to an emphatic victory over New Zealand in the first semifinal of cricket’s World Twenty20 in Delhi. England’s bowlers had set up the win with some exemplary death bowling to limit New Zealand to just 153 for 8 from their 20 overs. And, while New Zealand’s impressive bowling and assessment of conditions had guided them to a 100 percent record in their group, this time they had no answer for England and Roy. His big-hitting got England off to a dream start and, although his dismissal, immediately followed by that of captain Eoin Morgan caused a brief flutter of nerves, England had enough to ease to a seven-wicket win with 17 balls remaining.
With a young team and a history of being behind the times in limited-overs cricket, such success seemed inconceivable just a few months ago. Their prospects were even bleaker, when, following an opening loss to the West Indies, they were set a total of 230 for victory by South Africa in a must-win second match. But Morgan's side have emerged victorious from a succession of tense examinations with a combination of big hitting and well-time wickets. And as they seek a repeat of their 2010 triumph, they now await the winner between India and the West Indies in Sunday’s final in Kolkata.
New Zealand came into the semifinal as favorites after breezing through the group phase. While they lost the toss, captain Kane Williamson claimed he would have chosen to bat, even if his team had not been put in by England. His team’s start backed up that statement.
Although danger man Martin Guptill was dismissed in just the third over when getting an outside edge to David Willey, New Zealand soared through to the end of the 10th over. Williamson and the big-hitting Colin Munro put on a partnership of 74, putting England firmly on the back foot and leaving New Zealand eyeing up a score getting close to 200.
But the tide turned dramatically in the second half of New Zealand’s innings. Standing at 89-1 at the end of the 10th over, they were 64-7 for the final 10. Liam Plunkett got the big wicket of Munro in the 14th over and after that the wickets started to tumble rapidly. Ben Stokes took the accolades, with three wickets, including two in as many balls as New Zealand collapsed. The fall of wickets prevented any chance of regaining their momentum and England finished the innings delighted at restricting them to just 20 runs from the final four overs. Even a single off the final ball eluded the Black Caps, with Mitchell McClenaghan run out.
Still, there was reason for optimism for New Zealand, despite a total that was certainly below par on the Delhi pitch. New Zealand’s victories over India, Australia, Pakistan and Bangladesh in the group had all come about thanks to their bowlers expertly defending fairly modest totals.
Immediately, though, England put themselves in the ascendency. Roy smacked four boundaries off the opening over, and, supported by the more reserved Alex Hales, continued the punishment for New Zealand. Having got lucky with an edge that dropped safe near the boundary in the second over, Roy went onto get his first Twenty20 international 50 off just 26 balls.
Traveling at more than 10 runs and over, England had reduced their requirement for victory to just a run-a-ball. New Zealand badly needed to break up the partnership and finally did so after 82 runs had been out on the board when Hales failed to get enough purchase on a big hit off Mitchell Santner and was easily caught out on the boundary.
Roy, though, remained to race onto 78 from only 44 deliveries. He was finally dismissed in the 13th over after swinging and missing at a straight delivery from Ish Sodhi. The spinner immediately made further inroads, accounting for Morgan’s second golden duck of the competition, with a ball that straightened up and hit the pads right in front of middle stump.
The dismissals briefly changed the tone of the innings, as New Zealand slowed England’s onslaught. But whereas New Zealand had limped over the line at the end of their innings, England powered over. Six boundaries came off nine deliveries, five from Jos Buttler as he and Joe Root led England to a crushing win.