CHESTER-LE-STREET, United Kingdom (AFP) – Jonny Bairstow starred with the bat as England booked their place in the World Cup semi-finals on Wednesday night, crushing New Zealand by 119 runs in Chester-le-Street.
It is the first time England have reached this stage since 1992, when they made the last of their three losing appearances in the final.
England, who have never won the World Cup, were set for a huge score at 194-1 off 30 overs before managing just 111 runs in the last 20 against a New Zealand attack missing injured fast bowler Lockie Ferguson.
But a total of 305-8, underpinned by Bairstow’s second consecutive century, proved more than enough for the home side, who beat India last Sunday to put themselves back in contention after worrying defeats to Sri Lanka and Australia.
Bairstow (106) and Jason Roy (60) got England off to a flying with an opening partnership of 123 – their third century stand in a row – and 42 from captain Eoin Morgan helped them pass 300.
New Zealand could only manage 186 in reply as they suffered a third successive defeat following losses to Pakistan and champions Australia – the team that beat them in the 2015 final.
One consolation for the Black Caps is that they should still join Australia, India and England in the semi-finals of the 10-team group stage.
It would take a colossal change in net run-rate for Pakistan to overtake them, even if Sarfaraz Ahmed’s side beat Bangladesh at Lord’s tonight.
“I thought we were outstanding today. It started with the two boys at the top of the order,” Morgan said.
“They set a good solid platform playing in the manner they do. Jonny getting his hundred was match-winning.
“The wicket did change after the 25th over and it did slow up. It was difficult to score.
“Every batsman found that, so to have so many on the board was encouraging. It was about trying to get as close to 300 as possible.”
England are now guaranteed to finish third in the standings and will play in the second semi-final at Edgbaston on July 11.
As things stand, they are in line to face India, currently second, but it is still possible for Virat Kohli’s men to leapfrog Australia at the top of the standings.
The first semi-final between the first and fourth-placed sides is scheduled for Old Trafford next Tuesday.
New Zealand, who would have guaranteed their semi-final spot had they beaten England, were quickly in trouble, losing Henry Nicholls in the first over and the out-of-form Martin Guptill shortly afterwards.
But worse followed when senior batsmen Kane Williamson (27) and Ross Taylor (28) were dismissed in contrasting run-outs.
Black Caps skipper Williamson was unlucky, with fast bowler Mark Wood getting his fingertips to a Taylor drive and deflecting the ball onto the non-striker’s stumps with Williamson out of his ground.
After a brief stoppage when a streaker ran onto the field, the Black Caps lost Tom Latham, caught behind for 57, to leave them all but beaten at 164-7.
“England did get the best of the conditions but they were the better team,” said Williamson.
“They outplayed us in all facets. The conditions didn’t decide the result. Full credit to the way England played today.”