New Zealand struck at vital junctures but couldn't restrict England below 300    Getty Images
New Zealand struck at vital junctures but couldn’t restrict England below 300 Getty Images

In match 6 of ICC Champions Trophy 2017, England posted 310 in 49.3 after New Zealand opted to bowl. The hosts had a stop-start innings with wickets falling at regular intervals and whenever a pair looked in control to take the game away from the Kiwis. Adam Milne and Corey Anderson were among the wickets for New Zealand; on the other hand, Alex Hales, Joe Root, Ben Stokes and Jos Buttler all got to 48 but none of them made it past 64. Nevertheless, they kept England in the hunt and took them to a challenging score. England will be eager to win this clash and become the first side to cement their spot in the knockout stage. On the other hand, New Zealand have to emerge victorious to keep their semi-final alive in the competition with their tournament opener being washed out against Australia. Full Cricket Scorecard: ICC Champions Trophy 2017, England vs New Zealand, Match 6 at Cardiff

Tim Southee started proceedings with Jason Roy facing him. Southee got swing from ball one and conceded 4 off the first over. When he over-pitched, Roy clobbered him past cover. Hales continued from where he left against Bangladesh by getting his first runs of the day courtesy a boundary off Trent Boult. The duo was in no hurry with an out-of-form Roy looking to buy time while Hales carried on with his cautious approach. The first mark of aggression was displayed by Hales as he slammed a six off Southee before losing his partner to Adam Milne. Roy moved across, exposing his middle- and leg-stumps, and Milne dropped it straight and quick. Roy’s strings of poor scores continued as he departed for 13.

Hales was joined by Root and the duo went about their business comfortably. Ahead of this innings, Root and Hales had registered 13 fifty-plus stand in 22 innings. They added another to that list with ease. Kane Williamson brought on Mitchell Santner and James Neesham to inject a breakthrough but the move paid no dividend. He went back to Milne who got rid of Hales (56) instantly. Having conceded a six, Milne followed it with a slower delivery to fox Hales, who was anticipating a short ball and was too early on his shot.

Hales’ dismissal brought the in-form Eoin Morgan at the crease. Williamson needed to break the partnership quickly, so he recalled Boult. Morgan was deceived by a short ball but smacked the very next delivery, coming down the track, for a four. He was playing his shots before chasing by a wide ball and getting a thick edge off Anderson. It was Anderson’s maiden scalp against England and a prized one, too.

Stokes joined Root who slammed his 22nd fifty and looked in full control in the middle. The pair got the odd boundary and survived a few close run-out chances. Then, against the run of play, Root chopped one onto the stumps to give Anderson another vital wicket.

England were looking threatening with Stokes and Buttler getting their eye in before the death overs. Sensing a need to remove both men, Williamson again resorted to Boult. Boult banged one short outside off. Stokes, trying to use the pace of the ball, ended up connecting it lot better than he wanted, hitting straight to third-man for 48.

Moeen Ali and Adil Rashid got starts but fell early. Moeen was out on a poor delivery from Anderson as Boult took a good catch at backward square-leg. Rashid, on the other hand, missed the length completely from Santner and was trapped lbw in the 44th over. Both the batsmen fell after striking a four for 12 apiece.

The onus rested on Buttler’s shoulders to bat with the tail. Williamson kept Southee for the end overs and also had Boult’s services by giving him short spells in between. Nonetheless, Buttler guided the side towards the 300-run mark courtesy his 14th fifty (second versus the Black Caps). He was ably supported by Liam Plunkett (15) who smashed a huge six to bring England’s 17th total in excess of 300 (batting first) since the 2015 ICC World Cup.

New Zealand have been the most expensive side in the last Powerplay overs (8.23 per over) and conceded 89 runs in the last 10 overs. However, they managed to dismiss the English innings with 3 balls remaining.

Kiwis will rely on Martin Guptill to provide a blazing start and Williamson to carry the innings on his shoulders. Nonetheless, their rusty middle order will have to stand tall in a daunting chase.

The innings, apart from the glamourous shots and wickets, also witnessed a minute of silence with players from both dens depicting their solidarity with the victims of the recent London attacks.

Brief scores:

England 310 all-out in 49.3 overs (Alex Hales 56, Joe Root 64, Ben Stokes 48, Jos Buttler 61*; Tim Southee 2 for 44, Corey Anderson 3 for 55, Adam Milne 3 for 79) vs New Zealand.

Full Cricket Scorecard: ICC Champions Trophy 2017, England vs New Zealand, Match 6 at Cardiff