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T20 World Cup: England trump New Zealand to stay alive

England trump New Zealand
England's Sam Curran, second left, is congratulated by teammates after taking the wicket of New Zealand's Glenn Phillips during the T20 World Cup cricket match between England and New Zealand in Brisbane, Australia, Tuesday, Nov. 1, 2022. (AP Photo/Tertius Pickard)

BRISBANE, November 1: Clinical England rescued their Twenty20 World Cup campaign as they held their nerve to beat New Zealand by 20 runs at the Gabba in Brisbane on Tuesday.
England, who had been facing almost certain elimination had they lost, moved into the top two in Group 1 along with their opponents with one round of matches to go.
Only the top two reach the semi-finals.
It puts enormous pressure on hosts and defending champions Australia, who must now win their last match against Afghanistan and hope England or New Zealand stumble.
“We had a poor performance (losing against Ireland) but there’s a lot of confidence in the group,” said England skipper Jos Buttler, who propelled England to 179-6 after he smashed 73 off 47 balls. Alex Hales also struck a half-century.
“We were aiming for 160-165, but we managed to push beyond that — we left it all out there tonight,” said Buttler.
The captain played a crucial role with the bat as England finally started to show why they were one of the pre-tournament favourites. Their fate is now in their own hands.
England got away to a perfect start in the field when New Zealand opener Devon Conway leg-glanced a ball from Chris Woakes and Buttler took a spectacular diving catch.
It got worse for the Kiwis when Finn Allen pulled a slower ball from Sam Curran to Ben Stokes at deep mid-wicket, leaving New Zealand 28-2 after five overs.
The Black Caps were struggling against a tight bowling attack, but the momentum swung firmly towards them when Moeen Ali dropped the in-form Glenn Phillips when he was on 15 and New Zealand 64-2.
Phillips skied an attempted pull shot straight to Ali, who somehow didn’t get a hand on it.
Phillips, who blasted a century against Sri Lanka in New Zealand’s last match, made the English pay as he raced to his half century off only 25 balls.
Buttler was ringing the changes with his attack as he tried seven bowlers in the search for a breakthrough.
His seventh choice finally paid off when Black Caps skipper Kane Williamson (40) squeezed a Stokes delivery to Adil Rashid at short third.
James Neesham came and went for six but Phillips kept on smashing the England attack all over the Gabba.
He lost Daryl Mitchell, caught on the boundary by substitute fielder Chris Jordan off Mark Wood, before falling the same way off Sam Curran almost immediately.
Once Phillips fell, New Zealand’s challenge was as good as over as the lower order struggled to find the boundary.
“Credit to the way England played,” Williamson said.
“They put us under pressure. They played beautifully, hats-off to them, they were pretty clinical.
“It was a slightly above-par total. We tried to take it a little deeper, but credit to the way they bowled.”
Earlier, Buttler was dropped twice during his entertaining knock, before passing former captain Eoin Morgan as the highest run-scorer for England in T20 internationals.
Williamson was left to rue letting Buttler off the hook.
“He’s one of, if not the best player in the game,” Williamson said.
“If you do that he’ll make you pay, he made the boundaries look small, which they certainly are not.”
New Zealand, England and Australia are all on five points after four games.
But New Zealand, last year’s beaten finalists, top Group 1 on net run rate, with England second.
New Zealand, who could have sealed a spot in the semi-finals with victory, play Ireland on Friday — the same day the hosts are in action against already eliminated Afghanistan.
England face Asian champions Sri Lanka on Saturday to wrap the group up.
Sri Lanka beat Afghanistan to keep semifinals hopes alive
Wanindu Hasaranga led an inspired bowling effort before Dhananjaya de Silva hit a fine fifty as Sri Lanka kept their semifinals hopes alive with a six-wicket win over Afghanistan in the T20 World Cup here on Tuesday.
Mystery spinner Hasaranga (3/13) and pacer Lahiru Kumara (2/30) shared five wickets among themselves to restrict Afghanistan to 144 for 8.
Dhananjaya then took control of the Sri Lankan innings with a strokeful unbeaten 66 off 42 balls as the reigning Asia Cup champions crossed the line with nine balls to spare.
With the win, Sri Lanka climb up to the third spot in group 1.
Afghanistan, on the other hand, dropped out of semifinal contention.
Defending a modest total, Sri Lanka started off well but Mujeeb ur Rahman (2/24) produced a leading edge to mark the end of Pathum Nissanka (10) putting the Sri Lankans under pressure. Fazalhaq Farooqi (1/22) bowled a maiden in the following over to tighten the screws.
However, Kusal Mendis (25) hit back-to-back boundaries in the next over, both over midwicket as Sri Lanka dallied to 28 for 1 in the Powerplay.
Rashid Khan (2/31) struck in his first over as Mendis went for a premeditated sweep but top-edged for the keeper to catch it.
While the Afghans tried to build pressure by bowling dots, Sri Lanka continued to score at a healthy rate, milking boundaries and sixes every now and then.
Rashid’s second over went for 14 runs as de Silva hit a four down fine leg before slogsweeping the star spinner over deep mid-wicket for a six.
Dhananjaya continued the onslaught with a six off Mohammad Nabi in the next over to keep the required run rate within seven.
Together with Charith Asalanka (19), Dhananjaya stitched a 54-run stand followed by a 42-run partnership with Bhanuka Rajapaksa (18) to take Sri Lanka to victory.
Earlier, while the Afghans were able to stitch a few partnerships at the top, Sri Lanka did well to strike at regular intervals.
The ball swung in the opening two overs but after that the Sri Lankan bowlers struggled to get their lengths right as Rahmanullah Gurbaz (28) donned the role of the aggressor.
The wicketkeeper batter danced down and hit a glorious straight drive off Kasun Rajitha to register the first maximum of the innings.
The Afghans then hit three more fours and a six to collect 42 off the first six overs.
However right after the powerplay, Kumara fashioned the first breakthrough for the Sri Lankans.
Gurbaz looked to go big but there was just enough movement as the ball traversed the gap between the bat and pad to crash into the stumps.
The spinners were then able to slow down the proceedings after the wicket but Usman Ghani (27) whacked Kumara for a six to long off.
Looking to up the ante, Ghani once again tried to go for it in the 11th over off Hasaranga, who was brought back into the attack.
However, the Afghan was done by a googly that had a touch of bounce on it and skipper Dasun Shanaka pouched it at deep mid-wicket.
Ibrahim Zadran (22) became Kumara’s second victim in the 13th over.
With wickets in hand, Mohammad Nabi (13) dispatched a slower one to extra-cover. But the skipper wasn’t able to stay in the middle for long as Afghanistan failed to fire in the death overs, losing five wickets for 40 runs off the last 30 balls.
Sri Lanka were once against guilty of being sloppy on the field. (AFP/PTI)

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