Kane Williamson once again played a lone battle of 98-ball 87 vs England    Getty Images
New Zealand’s middle-order faltered once again vs England Getty Images

After the hammering at the hands of England in Cardiff on Tuesday, New Zealand s fate is no longer in its own hands. It must defeat Bangladesh in its last league game on Friday, and even that will not guarantee it a place in the semi-final; it would then have to rely on England to defeat Australia in the battle of the old foes the following day.

New Zealand had its chances against England, but the host showed why it is such a feared limited-overs force these days. I was quite in agreement with Kane Williamson s decision to field first, which was based on cold logic and an honest assessment of the conditions.

When I reached the ground in the morning, with the threat of rain imminent, the dampness in the air was obvious. Also, as I stood right behind the pitch, I could see a tinge of green, and it appeared as if there was a little bit of moisture on the surface, that the pitch would be a little bit tacky. Full Cricket Scorecard: ICC Champions Trophy 2017, England vs New Zealand, Match 6 at Cardiff

All of that suggested generous seam movement — because the pitch had been under the covers for a day — as well as some swing because of the atmospheric conditions. But to be fair to the New Zealand bowlers, neither of the white balls swung at all, and it barely moved off the straight either.

Having said that, England played really well, it assessed the conditions excellently. It took the game to New Zealand, and kept taking it to the Black Caps. Each time England threatened to run away with the game, New Zealand picked up wickets; the teams traded blows through the middle period.

At one stage, New Zealand had the chance to bowl England out for around 280, but the depth in its batting and the pyrotechnics of Jos Buttler took the host to 310. We have seen in the recent past that totals in that region have been chased down fairly regularly, but given the conditions and the nature of the surface, England would have been reasonably happy and comfortable at the break with the total it had put on the board.

The New Zealand bowling was ok, but it probably wasn t as consistent as it needed to be for long periods of time. Given how New Zealand believed the pitch would play, the ploy was clearly to bang the ball into the wicket, downwind into the river. In hindsight, New Zealand could have done a couple of things differently maybe brought another man on to the leg-side, made a couple of changes tactically, but then again, the frontline England bowlers bowled alright and still went for nearly six runs an over, which is just the nature of the limited-overs game these days.

I was quite happy to see England pick Adil Rashid in the playing XI, even though it was to New Zealand s detriment somewhat! I have been a big fan of playing attacking leg-spinners, and I thought Rashid bowled well even though he went for runs early on. Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor played him beautifully, and pretty much took him out of the game during their partnership.

However, as we saw with Adam Zampa in Australia s last game against New Zealand, when you expose a new player to a quality leggie, it is never easy. Rashid tied Neil Broom up and eventually dismissed him for a strike-rate of just over 50, and then had Mitchell Santner stumped too, for good measure. After his first five overs, he had figures of none for 30, and eventually finished with 2 for 47 from 10. As a bowler myself, I like seeing that the positive, attacking style with the ball that teams embrace in modern-day cricket.

The unfortunate injury to Chris Woakes allowed England to bring Rashid in, but it would have been interesting to see which seamer England would have dropped otherwise. I think it might have left out Jake Ball, but I was very impressed with the way he bowled. He implemented the plan of banging the ball into the turf quite beautifully, and the England attack roughed up the New Zealand batsmen on a pitch with a little bit of uneven bounce.

The bounce obviously played on the minds of the New Zealand batsmen, and it was that inconsistency which got rid of Williamson. Once the captain was gone, England just got on top and sadly rolled us over.

The one thing that was notable during England s batting was just how hard teams keep coming even when they are losing wickets. There is none of that consolidation in the middle overs as used to be the norm until say 4-5 years back, because teams are mindful that totals even in the region of 325 aren t necessarily safe anymore.

As a bowler, that doesn t amuse me a lot, but people want to see the ball fly, and if that s what they want, then that s what we must give them, must we not?

This content was first published in www.icc-cricket.com.