Cardiff, June 7:
England beat New Zealand by 87 runs in a Group A clash of the ICC Champions Trophy at the Sophia Gardens here on Tuesday to become the first side to qualify for the semi-finals.
Chasing 311 for victory, New Zealand lost the plot after in-form skipper Kane Williamson (87) departed at a crucial juncture and could only manage 223 all out in 44.3 overs.
The hosts had Liam Plunkett to thank for his 4/55 in 9.3 overs while Jake Ball and Adil Rashid picked up two wickets each.
Williamson’s essay was studded with eight boundaries as he and Ross Taylor (39) stitched together a 95-run stand for the third wicket, the highest of the match.
But once Williamson was out, edging a ripper of a delivery from Mark Wood (1/32) to wicketkeeper Jos Buttler, it was downhill for the Black Caps.
Taylor followed suit, picking out Joe Root at midwicket off Ball’s bowling and James Neesham (18), Neil Broom (11), Mitchell Santner (3) Corey Anderson (10), Adam Milne (10) and Tim Southee (2) could only muster 55 runs together which was not enough. Trent Boult was not out on 0.
Earlier, Luke Ronchi got out for a golden duck and Martin Guptill (27) too could not convert his start.
In the first innings, after being put to bat by the Kiwis, half-centuries from Alex Hales (56), Root (64) and Buttler (61) helped England to a respectable 310 all out in 49.3 overs.
All-rounder Ben Stokes played well for his 48 before getting out as Anderson returned best figures of 3/55 while Milne also took three wickets for the cost of 79 runs.
Jason Roy (13) was sent back early by Milne as the opener tried to walk across his stumps to a quick delivery which knocked his stumps as he tried to flick the ball over the leg side.
In-form Root looked to continuing from where he had left off against Bangladesh. The 26-year-old showed no signs of the ankle and calf injury which bothered him in the last game to milk Kiwi bowlers, especially left-arm spinner Santner whom he spanked for 29 runs in 22 balls.
Milne, however, was in the thick of things again, breaking the promising second wicket stand between Hales and Root.
Hales departed just when he was looking good and timing the ball well. His departure brought skipper Eoin Morgan to the crease, but he did not last long, edging a wide Corey Anderson delivery to wicketkeeper Ronchi at 13.
England’s run rate though was always steady, as after the first Powerplay, they were 50/1 while after 30 overs when drinks was called for, they had reached 166/3 with Root looking good on 61 and Stokes joining him at the crease on 19.
Shortly after drinks, Root — who was not getting a lot of the strike — chopped the ball back onto the stumps while trying to cut through the off-side, handing Anderson his second scalp.
Root and Stokes engineered England’s second fifty-run stand with a 54-run association for the fourth wicket.
At the other end, Stokes went from strength to strength but fell short of a half century by playing an unnecessary uppercut that fell to Milne at third man off Boult’s bowling.
Boult took a superb catch at short fine leg off Anderosn’s bowling to dismiss Moeen Ali (12) who failed to support the explosive Buttler.
Adil Rashid (12) fell lbw to Santner despite reviewing the umpire’s initial decision but thankfully for England, Buttler found a steady partner at last in Plunkett.
The 26-year old stumper brought up his fifty with a straight six over long-off, helped by Plunkett with a 10-ball 15, added a vital 49-run partnership for the eighth wicket.
Brief scores: England 310 all out in 49.3 overs (Alex Hales 56, Joe Root 64, Jos Buttler 61 not out; Adam Milne 3/79, Corey Anderson 3/55); New Zealand 223 all out (Kane Williamson 87; Liam Plunkett 4/55)