England rescued their Twenty20 World Cup hopes as they held their nerve to see off New Zealand by 20 runs at the Gabba in Brisbane on Tuesday. England, who had been facing almost certain elimination had they lost, moved up into the top two in Group 1 along with their opponents with one round of matches to go. Only the top two reach the semi-finals. It puts enormous pressure on hosts and defending champions Australia, who must now win their last match against Afghanistan and hope England and New Zealand stumble.
Skipper Jos Buttler smashed 73 off 47 balls as England reached 179-6 and finally started to show why they were one of the pre-tournament favourites.
They then got away to a perfect start in the field when New Zealand opener Devon Conway leg-glanced a ball from Chris Woakes and Buttler took a spectacular diving catch.
It got worse for the Kiwis when Finn Allen pulled a slower ball from Sam Curran to Ben Stokes at deep mid-wicket, leaving New Zealand 28-2 after five overs.
The Black Caps were struggling against a tight bowling attack, but the momentum swung firmly towards them when Moeen Ali dropped the in-form Glenn Phillips when he was on 15 and New Zealand 64-2.
Phillips skied an attempted pull shot straight to Ali, who somehow didn’t get a hand on it.
Phillips, who blasted a century against Sri Lanka in New Zealand’s last match, made the English pay as he raced to his half century off only 25 balls.
Buttler was ringing the changes with his attack as he tried seven bowlers to try and make the breakthrough.
His seventh choice finally paid off when Kane Williamson (40) squeezed a Stokes delivery to Adil Rashid at short third.
James Neesham came and went for six but Phillips kept on smashing the England attack all over the Gabba.
He lost Daryl Mitchell, caught on the boundary by substitute fielder Chris Jordan off Mark Wood, before falling the same way off Sam Curran almost immediately.
Once Phillips fell, New Zealand’s challenge was as good as over as the lower order struggled to find the boundary.
Earlier, Buttler was dropped twice during his entertaining knock, passing former captain Eoin Morgan as the highest run-scorer for England in T20 internationals.
New Zealand, England and Australia are all on five points after four games with New Zealand top of Group 1 on net run rate, with England second.
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