Both England and New Zealand had contrasting runs heading into their last group stage fixture.
New Zealand won five, had one washout, and lost their last two fixtures. They lost to Pakistan at Edgbaston by six wickets and were thrashed by the Aussies in their last fixture at Lord’s by 85 runs after Mitchell Starc destroyed their batting line-up.
England won their last game against India by 31 runs, a result which came on the back of four wins and three losses.
It was a must-win match for both sides but more so for England. If the hosts lost, there was a possibility they would bundle out of their home tournament in the group stages despite starting as overwhelming favourites.
Eoin Morgan won the toss and elected to bat first. The groundsmen stated it was a better pitch to bat on than the one Sri Lanka and the West Indies played on earlier in the week.
The Englishmen needed a good start from the openers, and they delivered a 123-run stand off 112 balls. Jason Roy scored his second consecutive half-century and his third for the tournament, while Jonny Bairstow scored his second consecutive ton. Jimmy Neesham broke the partnership when Roy lobbed the ball to Mitchell Santner in the 19th over, departing for 60 off 61 deliveries with the score at 123.
The only other 50+ partnership of the was between Bairstow and Joe Root. They added 71 runs off 69 deliveries, and when Root faintly edged the ball to Tom Latham, the score was 194.
Following Root’s departure, England kept losing wickets at regular intervals and were restricted well by New Zealand in the last 20 overs, when they only managed 111 runs.
Matt Henry bowled Bairstow for a wonderful 99-ball 106, with 15 fours and one six, and Eoin Morgan chipped in with 42 off 40. Neesham, Trent Boult and Henry all had economy rates under six an over and picked up two wickets apiece as England ended up with 305/8 off 50 overs.
New Zealand needed a good start, but lost both their openers early – not for the first time this World Cup. Henry Nicholls was given out for a golden duck, lbw off the bowling of Chris Woakes. Replays showed that if he had reviewed the decision, he would have been not out. Martin Guptill’s horrible World Cup campaign continued when Jos Buttler took a spectacular catch down the leg side to remove him for eight.
Two game-changing moments came through a couple of contrasting run-outs. Kane Williamson departed for 27 off 40 via a deflection off Mark Wood’s fingertips during his follow-through. Not long after, Ross Taylor was caught short trying to take on Adil Rashid in the deep, gone for 28 off 42.
Jimmy Neesham and Tom Latham stitched a solid 50-run partnership at just better than a run a ball before Neesham chopped on off Wood for 19. When Colin De Grandhomme tried to pull Ben Stokes for six and got in the deep by Joe Root, New Zealand’s innings was in total disarray and slowed down from there.
Latham went for 57 off 65 balls, his knock the only positive in the innings.
When Boult was stumped off Rashid’s bowling, it ended a 119-hammering five overs early.
England were excellent, winning their second straight must-win encounter. They’re looking dangerous at the right time.
New Zealand, though, have plenty to ponder upon before their next fixture. They have most likely qualified for the semi-finals provided Pakistan don’t pull off a miraculous thrashing off Bangladesh. The struggling Black Caps will face the team that comes first at Old Trafford on Tuesday, and they have six days to turn their fortunes around.