England advances to World Cup semifinal
England has managed to make it to its first Cricket World Cup semifinal since 1992. Save for a miracle, New Zealand is into the last four, too.
Propelled by another century by Jonny Bairstow and a freakish run-out that removed dangerman Kane Williamson, England coasted to a 119-run win over New Zealand on Wednesday to climb back into the playoff spots after its final group-stage match.
The English, who are guaranteed to finish in third place, will play in the second semifinal — at Edgbaston on July 11 — against the team that finishes in second place. That is currently India.
Back-to-back defeats, to Australia and Sri Lanka, meant the knockout stage started early for England and the tournament hosts responded to being in a perilous situation by winning pressure-filled matches against India and now New Zealand.
“Maybe at the end of the World Cup, if everything goes to plan, we’ll look back on the Australia and Sri Lanka games and say that they built our competition and the character of the team. That was a huge test and we got through it,” England fast bowler Mark Wood said.
“I’m hoping at the very end, when we’re lifting that trophy high, we can say we were tested and we got through it.”
New Zealand is currently two points ahead of fifth-place Pakistan, whose final group game is against Bangladesh at Lord’s on Friday, but is highly unlikely to lose its place in the top four because of a far superior net run-rate than its rival. Pakistan must beat Bangladesh by a margin in excess of 300 runs — something never before achieved in ODI history.
It means the Black Caps are already preparing to play the first semifinal in Manchester on Tuesday when it will have to find momentum from somewhere, having lost to Pakistan and Australia before its group closer against England.
England made 305-8 off its 50 overs and New Zealand never looked like chasing down the target after the run-outs of Williamson — who was out of his ground at the non-striker’s end when the ball glanced off Wood’s fingertips and onto the stumps — and Ross Taylor in successive overs left them 69-4.
New Zealand was eventually dismissed for 186.
“I think they got the best of the decisions,” Williamson said, “but they were also the better team.”
The other stroke of fortune England enjoyed at Chester-le-Street was winning the toss on a pitch that slowed and broke up as a sunny day wore on, making batting increasingly difficult.