When at team chases a score in a rain-curtailed match, they have a distinct advantage since not only are they aware of the exact target, but are also in the know-how that they have less overs to bat with all wickets in hand. In this case, New Zealand, batting second against England, needed 170 in 24 overs. The target did look daunting, however in an era of T20 cricket, it is very much achievable. What New Zealand had to do was look at the match as a T20-type clash and bat accordingly. They did make an effort, but the English bowlers were just brilliant on the day.
James Anderson’s strikes at the top of the order put the Kiwis on the back foot right away. New Zealand needed a good start chasing the challenging target, but Martin Guptill and Luke Ronchi could not see through the opening spell and gave the hosts a significant advantage. There would still have been hope for New Zealand had their two most experienced batsmen put their hand up. Instead, Ross Taylor and skipper Brendon McCullum gave their wickets away before reaching double figures. And when James Franklin fell cheaply, the Kiwis had lost half their side for 62, which meant the game was all but over.
Under the circumstances, Kane Williamson batted exceedingly well, counter-attacking on every opportunity. He got good support from debutant Corey Anderson, who batted with a great sense of maturity in his first game. Their partnership gave New Zealand a glimmer of hope. But just when it looked that New Zealand could take the game all the way, Stuart Broad chipped in to send back Williamson for 67. It was the wicket that swung the match England’s way completely. Corey Anderson was also dismissed soon after, and the New Zealand chase faded away.
From England’s side, Anderson was undoubtedly the man who made the difference. His three-wicket spell broke the back of New Zealand’s chase. The good part was that he got excellent support from the other bowlers as well. Both Tim Bresnan and Ravi Bopara picked up two wickets each while Broad chipped in with one. And, although James Tredwell did not pick up any wickets, he ensured the pressure was maintained on New Zealand, with a tight spell of bowling.
Earlier in the day, England rode on their skipper Alastair Cook’s brisk half-century to post a challenging score. Cook, who normally prefers to let the others do the big hitting, showed another side to his game, going after the bowling on a day most of the others struggled. Joe Root was the only other England batsman to come up with a score of note even as the likes of Ian Bell and Jonathan Trott failed. The lower-order also collapsed with the big hitters Eoin Morgan and Joss Buttler not coming to the party again. Mitchell McClenghan and Kyle Mills were excellent with the ball, sharing seven wickets among themselves. At the halfway stage it seemed that the game was well balanced, but England’s early strikes gave them the much-needed boost, as they ended up booking a place in the semis.
--By A Cricket Analyst