Jos Buttler led England to a victory over the Black Caps. Photo/Getty
The Black Caps have been unable to book a semifinal berth at the T20 World Cup but that ticket should still be collected on Friday.
England earned a measure of revenge for last year’s semifinal loss by outplaying New Zealand in all facets to complete a 20-run victory in Brisbane tonight.
With his side on the edge of elimination, England captain Jos Buttler produced the decisive knock, cracking 73 runs from 47 balls to build the platform for a total of 179-6.
The Black Caps never seized the initiative in the chase, losing their openers cheaply and seeing their innings anchored in the wrong way by Kane Williamson (40 off 40).
Glenn Phillips (62 off 36) threatened to mount another rescue mission but the middle order was saddled with too much work in too little time, leaving three teams on five points with one round to play in group one.
New Zealand remain in the box seat to progress to the semifinals after the big wins over Australia and Sri Lanka boosted their net run rate. A victory of any sort against Ireland on Friday will almost certainly prove sufficient.
England, facing Sri Lanka in their final match, are now well clear of Australia in net run rate, leaving the hosts and defending champions needing a huge reversal against Afghanistan.
The Black Caps knew they would occupy that comfortable position providing they avoided a heavy loss tonight, and at times in the chase they seemed content to conserve wickets and get close to their target.
In that regard, they would have been satisfied with the way the first innings ended after England, having won the toss, feasted on their opponents’ pace options.
Trent Boult had the ball swinging early and could have dismissed Alex Hales from the first over had his inside edge not flown past the stumps to the boundary. The opener, immediately in attack mode, also took to Tim Southee and helped England reach 40-0 after five overs.
Williamson thought he might have curtailed that fast start by removing Buttler with a tough running catch when the batsman was on eight, but a third-umpire check revealed the ball had bobbled loose as the skipper hit the ground.
Worse was to come in the field with Daryl Mitchell shelling a simple chance on the deep midwicket boundary, handing Buttler another life on 40.
The drops and the base England had established left them looking set for a score of 200 but Mitchell Santner and Ish Sodhi combined to take 2-48 from their eight overs.
The three pace bowlers, in contrast, all had economy rates exceeding 10, though four wickets fell in the final three overs from Southee and Lockie Ferguson to somewhat limit the damage.
The damage was done early in the chase, however, as Devon Conway and Finn Allen both fell cheaply while trying to play expansively, seeing the Black Caps crawl to 28-2 with only two boundaries in the first five overs.
Williamson and Phillips initially consolidated well and eventually put on 91 for the third wicket, but with the required run rate already at 10 when the partnership began, the skipper’s slow scoring put pressure on his teammates.
Phillips was forced to hit out when on 15 and somehow survived spooning a chance to cover, with Moeen Ali producing one of the worst dropped catches in recent memory.
The required rate swelled to 12 in the 13th over with Williamson still striking barely over 100. Phillips, conversely, then slogged consecutive sixes to lift his strike rate to 200.
The captain’s wicket – picking out the fielder while aiming to carve Ben Stokes through third man – almost felt fortunate for the Black Caps, especially when Jimmy Neesham pulled his first delivery to the fence.
But needing 57 from the final five overs, Neesham quickly departed and the asking rate grew to insurmountable levels when Mark Wood conceded only three from the 16th.
Phillips and Mitchell both fell swinging for the fences, before Santner and Sodhi saw out the overs to boost what has become the all-important net run rate.